Why is Red Bull the best marketed product?
Red Bull, a simple energy drink is prevalent all over the world only because of its smart marketing techniques. Red Bull was founded by a pharmacist Chaleo Yoovidhya in 1970 in Thailand and was initially called Kratig Daeng. A literal translation of Kratig Daeng is Red Gaur, and Red Bull symbolized the strength and power of one. That is how Yoovidhya chose the symbol as well. Kratig Daeng started as an energy drink for the middle-class section of Thailand. All the other energy drink in Thailand at that time were imported and were very expensive. Yoovidhya wanted to make a drink specifically for the working middle-class section as he felt they needed an energy drink the most. It became increasingly popular as it symbolized the spirit of its hard-working middle-class buyers. In 1978, Red Bull became the most popular energy drink in Thailand. 12 years after Red Bull was started in Thailand, it was discovered by Dietrich Mateschitz who was visiting Thailand for a business trip. He liked the drink a lot, and in 1984 he made a deal with Chaleo Yoovidhya that they each invest half a million dollars so that he can start the distribution of Red Bull in Austria.While Mateschitz would take care of the marketing and operations, the production would still be taken care of by Yoovidhya. Finally, Red Bull was relaunched in 1987 in Austria. Red Bull has never followed the traditional advertising or marketing strategy. It has never used billboards, banner ads, taxicab holograms, blimps.
Then what made Red Bull stand apart and connect to millions of consumers worldwide?
The answer lies in the use of a very smart Marketing and Distribution Strategy.
One of the first initiatives he undertook to make Red Bull suitable for the European consumer was to carbonate the drink. Where in Thailand Red Bull appealed to the middle class, Dietrich Mateschitz needed a different approach to making the drink appealing to the Europeans.
Buzz Marketing: Malcomm Gladwell in his book ‘The Tipping Point’ talks about the power of Word of Mouth. He says that there are three categories of people that help an idea or message spread. Those three categories are the connectors, mavens, and the salesperson. A connector is an individual who has a strong and a vast network and plays a pivotal role in spreading ideas because of its far-reaching network. A Maven, on the other hand, is known and respected for its in-depth knowledge about various fields and their suggestions are really valued by their network. The salesman, on the other hand, is said to be the most prominent of all and are known for their persuasive powers. Dietrich Mateschitz understood that the youngsters are the best connectors that he can utilize to make his drink popular. He didn’t really need a maven or even a salesman for his idea to reach the tipping point.
He appointed the youngsters as brand managers, asked them to distribute free drinks and decorate their cars with Red Bull cans and also sponsored some special parties and events. It didn’t take Red Bull a long time to become a trend in the parties. Mateschitz realized that the best way to get the attention and influence a crowd of youngsters would be to hire members of that group. The youngsters tend to get more influenced by their peers than the adults. This strategy proved pivotal for the growth of RedBull. Red Bull became more popular because of its symbolic appeal. It became more than just an energy drink, and every youngster wanted to be associated to Red Bull as it spoke of their image and had an emotional appeal to it.
Red Bull made an emotional connection with its consumers. Being associated with Red Bull meant that you dared to be different.
Another very important way Red Bull reached to the masses was by the integration with other hard drinks like Vodka, Jägermeister, etc. This way Red Bull could increase its visibility in the bars and cocktail parties.
Due to this marketing strategy, Red Bull became over increasingly popular in Austria, and in 1987 itself Red Bull sold around over a million cans.
By 1997 Red Bull was selling 1 million cans per day.
Integration with adventure sports: Dietrich Mateschitz found yet another way to associate Red Bull on an emotional level with its consumers, by sponsoring sporting events. Dietrich Mateschitz understood that being associated with adventure sports will add another level of emotional appeal to his brand image. Red Bull stood for the courage, perseverance, strength, and enthusiasm of the players in those sports. It wasn’t then only about the party going youngsters and young adults anymore. It was about being associated with the brand and stand for what the name believed in. Dietrich Mateschitz himself being a sports enthusiast, leveraged his interest and knowledge to sponsor various sporting events. Red Bull appeals to that emotion of an individual where everyone wants to differentiate themselves from the crowd and pursue great adventures without overthinking about it.
Some of the sporting events sponsored by Red Bull are not even the conventional sports. Some of the events that Red Bull sponsors are-
1. Red Bull Soapbox race: A race for creative homemade soapbox vehicles
2. Red Bull Flugtag: Competition for home-made and human powered flying machines
3. Red Bull Cape Fear: Surfing event
To name a few, these are some of the events that Red Bull sponsors and promotes audience interaction, adding to its brand image. Each of these events is one of a kind and draws creative, enthusiastic, and adventurous people worldwide.
Red Bull also owns two Formula-one teams and also a few teams in the European Football League.
Dietrich Mateschitz isn’t the only one who associated Red Bull with sports. Chaleo Yoovidhya also sponsored Muay Thai events, a traditional martial art form in Thailand to promote Red Bull. That was how Red Bull first became associated with strength and spirit, and this has also been one of the reasons for increasing popularity of Red Bull in Thailand.
Tacky slogans and TV ads: Another very effective way to make a lasting impression on consumers is by clever advertising. We all know the saying ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ and who can forget those cartoon advertisements. Everybody likes smart and tacky advertising slogans, and Dietrich Mateschitz came up with an attractive slogan for Red Bull, which acted as an advantage for its brand image.
Competitors and Copy-Cats: The contents of Red Bull are just mentioned in the back of the cans, and it is not even patented. But none of its competitors or copy cats could really live up to Red Bull’s brand image. Major brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola have also introduced their energy drink, but Red Bull still leads the market share. Red Bull has a market share of about 26.5% followed by Monster Energy whose market share is around 14.2%.
It is not about the taste and caffeine. It’s about the significance of the brand image.
Dietrich Mateschitz: Dietrich Mateschitz nature could be said to be in contrast with the Red Bull’s brand image. While Red Bull’s brand image stands for being outrageous and outgoing, Mateschitz leads a considerably quiet life away from the media and the cameras. We don’t know if it’s his nature or a strategy to get people more interested in the brand. But whatever reason, it does get people more intrigued to understand the message of this brand.
From Thailand to Austria and to the rest of the world, Red Bull has come a long way. It has only been possible because of smart marketing strategies and living up to its high brand image. Red Bull is no doubt the best marketed product till date.