How Red Bull’s marketing genius lead to world domination
The world’s biggest energy drink company spends a third of their revenue on marketing - why?
Red Bull, the sweet fizzy beverage business founded by Dietrich Mateschitz in 1987, the business that resells what was a medicinal drink originally, the business that brings in $6.31 million in revenue each year and the business that does an awful lot more than sell energy drinks.
Red Bull’s marketing is quite frankly genius. Ask yourself how many times today you have seen the name today? How many times you have thought about the brand? How many times you have watched a sport with a Red Bull team? They are absolutely everywhere - for good reason.
Red Bull have absolutely mastered something known as the promotional mix - the combination of promotional methods that a business uses in order to generate awareness and ultimately sales, there are five elements of the promotional mix and Red Bull use all of them but to different degrees, here are the ones they use the most effectively…
The obvious one - advertising by Red Bull, for me probably one of the more dull aspects of their promotion. They often run television adverts with their slogan ‘Gives You Wings’ that targets large swathes of the population in one fell swoop. It is not the most targeted form of promotion as they advertise on major channels as they attempt to generate as many sales as possible, I imagine it works.
Personal selling - the art of communicating directly with a customer and building up a relationship in order to generate a sale. This is something Red Bull does among the student community. Young people are just the right type for businesses to target: impressionable and likely to buy the product for years to come, lucrative for sure.
Red Bull tried to tap into this demographic by hiring ‘Student Brand Managers’ at major universities to sell the fizzy beverage to other students in interesting ways - such as a car with a massive can of Red Bull strapped to the back to generate attention and create an association with Red Bull and outlandish behaviours. As Red Bull is the most popular energy drink in the world, I’d say it worked.
Sponsorship (or Ownership if you’re Red Bull)
The final part of the promotional mix is public relations and most companies go about this by sending out a few press releases here and there while sticking their name on a few football shirts or the side of a race car - but not Red Bull.
They are masters of using sports for promotion. They own four major football teams across the globe and two Formula One teams, none of which come cheap.
The objective of this is to show Red Bull as the drink of athletes at there peak, how their marketing executives must have smiled when they saw one of their F1 drivers Pierre Gasly broadcast on the main worldwide feed opening and drinking a can of Red Bull before getting in his car. Another advantage of team ownership is that if the teams produce any standout stars (like 2021 Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen) they can act as ‘brand ambassadors’ and lead to more sales.
However, recent activities at Red Bull Racing suggest they see the sport as more than a channel for promotion. They recently announced that they would build their own engines in order to compete at the forefront of F1, a good move for a race team becoming a manufacturer, but it won’t sell many cans of fizzy drink. It shows that Red Bull see a future for the brands they have created beyond drinks, and that is very exciting indeed.
Red Bull are the market leaders for a reason, they spend 1/3 of their revenue on marketing for a reason, they have a loyal customer base (or should that be fan base) for a reason: they are one clever business and the fact remains, without a trip to Asia and some jet lag, we wouldn’t have one of the world’s biggest beverage brands and the sector they dominate. Red Bull were pioneers, and their interesting attitude to promotion shows they still have that spirit.