Redbull’s Case Study

Here's what RedBull does to market its 1 product.

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redbull.com / insiders perspective.

The western world was first introduced to energy drinks when an Austrian marketing director made a business trip to Bangkok. Dietrich Mateschitz, who worked for a toothpaste manufacturer, discovered the performance-boosting and concentration enhancement effects of a Thai beverage named Krating Daeng, served to him by the locals after suffering from jet lag. Back in those days, while caffeinated sodas were common in Eastern Asia, Western society was unfamiliar to them.

Mateschitz seized the opportunity and quit his job in 1984 to form a partnership with Krating Daeng’s manufacturer, creating the first energy drink in the European market.

Red Bull wasn’t a hit from the start. It took three years for it to start selling, and it has gradually grown into an industrial powerhouse. With annual sales reaching $7.5 billion and over 12,600 employees, Red Bull established a global presence covering 171 countries and making Mateschitz among the richest men in the world.

As a small startup, Red Bull lacked the resources to advertise for itself on TV, radio shows, or billboard ads. So they came up with a new marketing event: The Red Bull Flugtag. This event, which stands for flight day, is a competition consisting of flying homemade and human-powered machines landing on a body of water.

The peculiar event managed to attract large crowds who gathered to enjoy the spectacle. Soon enough, the word spread about the Red Bull brand, and the Flugtag event became a tradition attracting huge masses, breaking a record with 220,000 people attending the event in 2012.

Back in their early days, Red Bull manufacturers resorted to controversial strategies to market their brand. They would place empty cans in crowded public places in order to give the illusion of the brand’s popularity.

Though this approach is likely to be unauthorized, it is nonetheless an ingenious way to market their brand for free and gain the public’s attention. Leaving the empty cans in places like college campuses, stadiums, and nightclubs can serve as a means to allow for targeted marketing. 

This low-cost and high reward strategy has proven itself to be a worthy gamble.

Red Bull doesn’t offer any other products aside from energy drinks. You can find a variety of flavors, but you won’t find other types of products under the brand’s name, such as Smoothies, tea, or juices.

Other brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola are known for the diversification of their products which vary from bottled water (Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani), sports drinks (Powerade and Gatorade) to even food. Red Bull’s strategy is to focus on what they do best: energy drinks.

While other companies are pressured by investors to expand and diversify due to them being publicly traded, Red Bull is a privately owned company and can stick to its main product without worrying about any external pressure.

Gaining customer loyalty and popularity is not only a question of selling a good product. The success of a brand may come from delivering a story or a narrative with a sentimental value capable of moving the customers’ hearts. The brand usually conveys this narrative with their slogan like Nike’s “Just do it”, Apple’s “1,000 songs in your pocket”, and Red Bull’s famous “Gives you wings”.

Red Bull tries to create a strong brand image revolving around adventure, thrills, and adrenaline rush. Organizing and sponsoring events like Formula One races and record-breaking Orbit jumps is an effective strategy to sell this trademark.

Selling the story and creating a loyal following gives Red Bull a competitive advantage that allows them to charge a premium and reach their end goal, which is selling more of their product.

Nailing the Name

Red Bull went to the market after three years of its foundation, during which, Mateschitz meticulously conceived the product’s branding. 

The term “energy drink” was first coined by Red Bull. It never occurred to brands selling caffeinated drinks like Cola and Pepsi to call their products as such and were called soft drinks or sodas instead. 

Although nowadays Pepsi and coke aren’t intended to boost your energy, it is a known fact that Coca-Cola contained cocaine back in the early 20th century. This would make it more worthy of the title “energy drink” than any product sold today. Yet it was never called so.

  • Advertising your product doesn’t necessarily need a large budget, and you can catch the eye of customers with low-budget smart marketing.
  • Growth and profitability should not be the sole focus of the brand. Getting the customers to feel a sense of belonging to a larger movement is an important marketing strategy.
  • Opportunities are endless. Mateschitz seized his opportunity by exporting a concept instead of coming out with the concept himself. 
  • Surely many brands followed Red Bull’s example in their marketing efforts, but will it be enough to ever surpass this iconic brand?
RedBull is one of the main sponsors of the F1, over 80 million people watch every single race.

Notable Elements

You can see the Red Bull logo at pretty much any sporting event, which brings us to an essential question: how does a company that specializes in one product and one product only achieve such a level of recognition?

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