Whenever you think about Red Bull, what are the first few words that come to mind? Possibly Adventure or Extreme Sports and iconic Blue Silver cans. Red Bull’s success in sports sponsorship, marketing, and branded content is enviable. There are very few examples of brands owning such strong associations as Red Bull does with Adventure Sports and talk about its super-successful sampling strategy.
In fact, until a little while ago, I assumed that this was Red Bull’s biggest marketing strategy for guiding trial and adoption.
I was wrong!
Although Red Bull relies heavily on sponsorship deals and content for marketing, the brand’s starting point was different and rather simple.
Red Bull Brand Story
Krating Daeng, an energy-boosting beverage was first introduced in Thailand in 1976 by Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Thai businessman and investor. The drink was most popular among blue-collar workers such as Thai truck drivers and laborers.
The magic happened when Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian businessman traveled to Thailand and met Chaleo. Dietrich happened to note that having the Thai Krating Daeng drink helped cure his jet lag. A validated business idea struck him and he joined hands with Chaleo to create Red Bull GmbH. Red Bull first launched in Austria in 1987.
The Sampling Strategy of Red Bull
Red Bull created a market that did not exist. How did it do that? Ever heard of ‘Go Where The Audience Is’ strategy?
Red Bull literally went to places where its audience was with Free Samples. That’s correct. At the core of Red Bull’s success is its sampling strategy.
The brand primarily targeted young male members in the age group of 18 to 35. To place the product amongst this audience set, Red Bull went to college parties, coffee shops, bars, pubs, libraries, and other popular hangout spots with free samples as part of its sampling strategy.
The audience who received free samples not only enjoyed a drink (or two) but also spread the word, free of cost. As the brand became part of daily dialogues, the product category and the brand became popular.
It then started commanding a premium. It is because of its initial sampling strategy and “go where the audience is mindset” that Red Bull never had to push its product. The product enjoyed a large scale organic fan following.
Red Bull that sells in iconic blue-silver tall cans was originally available in a single nondescript flavor and regular or sugar-free formulas. A line of “color editions” with flavorings was added to the line beginning in 2013.
As per companieshistory, in 1992, the product expanded to international markets: Hungary and Slovenia. It entered the United States via California in 1997 and the Middle East in 2000. Today, Red Bull sells in 20+ variants and in 167+ countries.
Marketing & Promotion Tactics of Red Bull
Well, we understand how the brand first got into people’s hands. But, how has the brand been able to command the connection with young audiences even today is an intriguing question.
This is where the brand’s unique marketing and promotion tactics come into play.
Red Bull, the brand that launched the iconic (and controversial) slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings” uses a ton of exceptionally well crafted sports-based marketing and promotions. Its sponsorship and sports promotion strategy dates back to 1989.
Take a history tour with me of Red Bull’s association with adventure and extreme sports!
In 1989, the brand signed a one-year shirt sponsorship deal with an Austrian football team.
Red Bull captured people’s imagination in the first-ever Flugtag event in 1992. The event saw competitors flying home-made, human-powered flying machines. Get a flavour of flugtag from this video – Best Crashes from Red Bull Flugtag – Hong Kong 2014.
By 1994, Red Bull took its sponsorship programme globa. It signed its 1st global sports stars, Naish and Dunkerbeck, the two international windsurfers.
In 1998, Red Bull founded its first ever Music Academy where it offered lectures and workshops for aspiring music makers. In 2000, the first Red Bull sponsored Soapbox race was held. Relive some funniest Soapbox moments here.
Furthermore, the very 1st F1 Red Bull Junior team was also launched in 2001. Since its launch in 2001, the Red Bull Junior Team have become the most successful programme focussed on developing the best young driving talent in the whole of motorsports. By 2003, Red Bull took to air racing and paragliding and by 2005, Red Bull F1 Racing team was founded.
2010 was just the first season of an incredible four-year spell. Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing swept the board with four consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles from 2010–2013.
In Red Bull’s history, one of the most notable cases of extreme sports is the Red Bull Stratos project from 2012. Here, Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner did a freefall 128 kilometres from the edge of space. Get ready for some adrenaline rush with this video.
Content Marketing Strategy of Red Bull for the targeted audience
Over years, Red Bull secured a unique and differentiated brand identity as an enabler of adventure and sports events, sponsoring and being involved with over 500 extreme adventure sports. Its strategy folded into helm sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
The brand strengthened its content strategy with the launch of Red Bull Media House that focuses on sports, culture, and lifestyle content and distributes it either directly to consumers or through partnerships.
What worked for the brand? A combination of marketing and promotion techniques. First, the brand endorsed extreme sports and indirectly promoted the brand. Second, it published great sports content across channels. Third, it hosted mind-blowing publicity stunts. All of this contributed to the market dominance that the brand enjoys today.
But then we know where did it all start, right? At places where its audience was – college parties, coffee shops, bars, pubs, libraries. Where every free bottle of the drink multiplied its reach, sales, and advocacy.
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