More than just an energy drink?

RedBull - a marketing powerhouse

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Whether you are an energy drink drinker or not, we all know of Red Bull. The market leader sells their product in 171 countries throughout the world, making waves in 2020 when they sold more than 1 can for every single person on the planet, totalling 7.9 billion cans. Aside from ‘Giving Wiiings’ to consumers through a can of caffeine, taurine, B vitamins, sucrose, glucose and carbonated water, Red Bull have an enormous presence across the world of sports, music, gaming and a number of events. 

The brand’s focus on downstream operations, that is the final processes involved with production and sales, is made possible by outsourcing upstream operations like production and logistics. Red Bull themselves don’t, and don’t have to, produce the drink themselves for it to be Red Bull. This sees them fully commit all their resources to marketing as the cost of production is extremely low making the revenue margin immense. Infact, Red Bull charges higher prices than their competitors.

If we go to Coles for a price comparison, 4 x 500mL cans are priced as follows:

  • Monster Green Energy Drink Cans 4 Pack 500mL $13.00 ($6.50 per 1L)

  • Rockstar Punched Tropical Guava Flavoured Energy Drink 4 Pack 500mL $6.85 ($3.43 per 1 L)

  • V Energy Drink Cans 4 Pack 500mL $12.25 ($4.80 per 1L)

  • Mother Energy Drink Cans 4 Pack 500mL $7.50 ($3.75 per 1L)

Where’s the Red Bull can? Well, adding to the premium product perception is the quantity. Red Bull do not have a 500mL can like their competitors. Instead, they charge a monstrous (by comparison) $16.30 for a 4 Pack of 473mL cans, with their famously slick design. That is $8.62 per 1L, $2.12 per 1L more than Monster. So what are consumers really buying when they choose Red Bull over Monster, Rockstar, V or Mother? Active involvement in a brand. 

Red Bull initially hit the club scene - vodka Red Bull anyone? - investing in brand managers at key universities around the world to drive around and hand out cans of Red Bull to students on campus to become the party drink of choice. The brand continues to engage with customers on a deeper level through sponsorships and ownership of sporting teams that consumers feel so close to. If you head to their website, they list all Red Bull athletes across every discipline. Red Bull are meeting consumers where they are already engaged - in sport. But is this all just marketing? 

Reliance on a single consumable product puts significant limits on growth, which is a big risk for energy drink brands. External factors contributing to this risk is an ever increasing concern for health and nutrition. Red Bull are more than aware of this, and their investment in sport is largely a revenue-driving business tactic that just so happens to aid marketing efforts. 

In 2021, Red Bull saw a lot of success outside of drink sales in terms of exposure, awareness and revenue. If we look at motorsports alone, the brand had major impacts on the lives of young athletes as the sponsors behind the First-time F1 champion, MotoGP champion, Indy Car champion, Formula E champion, DTM champion and Super 2 champion, in addition to numerous other wins. 

Energy Drink sales still cover 97% of total earnings for the company, and we still see sponsorship from other energy drinks in these spaces, with Monster focusing on the world of motosport, action sport and athletics. But what Red Bull does so well is putting their consumers first through content strategy. Product sales are second to creating experiences their target market is interested in. They push the brand, not the product. 

While taking a leaf out of Red Bull’s book seems scary and intimidating due to the sheer size of their company and efforts, any brand can use a content strategy to guide their efforts. Think about your target audience. What are they interested in? What will engage them? What channels and formats are they looking at regularly? With solid answers to these questions, you can inform an effective content strategy for your own brand.