“No other product has ever failed so convincingly. ” said the market research firm.
How would you feel if you are thinking of launching a new product and the market research firm tells you that consumers say that the thin colour of the new drink is totally unappetizing, the sticky mouth feel and the taste is ‘disgusting’?
It was in 1987 and Dietrich Mateschitz was thinking of launching his new drink, named Red Bull. He saw a great opportunity because the results were polarizing: 50% hated it and 50% loved it. Now it seems he was right: in 2006 he sold 3.000.000.000 cans of Red Bull, over 8.000.000 cans per day…
I think Red Bull is a fascinating marketing success story.
During a business trip in Thailand an Austrian executive discovers a strange product that helps him get over his jet lag, he talks with the company that makes the product and they set up a partnership to launch the product in Austria. The product is named Red Bull, the translation of the original Krating Daeng.
Not only do customers give a lot of negative feedback in market research but it takes them 5 years to get approval to launch this product that contains a lot of Taurine and Caffeine and after that only gas stations want to sell the product.
Suddenly clubbers and snowboarders discover the product and the vodka-Red Bull mix is born… and sales start to boom. Then international expansion follows. And today Red Bull controls 70% of the energy drinks market and is leader in 12 out of 13 markets where it competes.
I don’t know if I am more impressed by the perseverance to overcome the difficulties and the market resistance of the early years… or by the ability of Red Bull to successfully resist the attacks by the giant drink companies like Coca-Cola.
Red Bull has managed to build its brand as ‘the real thing’ in energy drinks, to be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about energy drinks. They are 2 times more expensive than competition and are still the leaders. This is only possible if your brand is incredibly strong. Not only do you need to have the right product and story to tell… but also a lot of money.
Red Bull spends an incredible 35% of revenues on marketing. This is amazing when you know that large consumer goods companies spend 10% at most. But they spend their money very differently, and to me this is the key. In a way Red Bulls ‘gives money back’ to their core consumers to keep the brand fresh and cool. While competition does traditional advertising they spend all the money sponsoring events in extreme sports, party life or the edgy cutlural scene being very present in sports, arts, music and party for young people. The are in F1, in flight exhibitions, in DJ constests etc…
It’s like a virtuous cycle, if your brand is #1 you can charge higher prices than competition, then you can invest more in keeping your brand cool… But many would be tempted to invest less and keep more money for themselves…
So you guessed it, Red Bull is a company about events, about sponsorships, about Public Relations and you only need to go to their website to see this. It’s hard to find other stuff than events… but here is a direct link to some job opportunities at Red Bull.