Red Bull - the Anti-Brand Brand

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Marketing Communication: Research and Planning
Spring exam 2012

Red Bull – The Anti-brand brand
Question 1:
Red Bull was launched in Austria in 1987, and in the 25 years that has passed since then, many things have happened that could and should affect the way Red Bull markets and brands its product as opposed to how it was done in the years after the launch. All though Red Bull was launched in 1987, it was not until 1992 that the company began expanding its distribution – first to other European countries, Hungary, Slovenia (1992), Germany and Switzerland (1994), and then in 1997 to the US (Kumar et al 2005: 3). In the 1990s, the general consumer trend in the markets that Red Bull entered into was that the more you spend the better. In many countries, especially in the US, the 90s was the decade of the consumer, and it was a decade where advertising and branding really became a point of differentiation for many companies – a strong brand became synonymous with success (Clifton 2009: 119). The current financial environments in Red Bull’s core markets are a lot gloomier than what was the case in the 90s, but interestingly enough, energy drinks was the one soft drinks category apparently unaffected by consumers spending less money. In 2010-2011 Red Bull outperformed the overall soft drinks market in both value and volume, and this in spite of the fact that energy drinks are priced higher than most other soft drinks. In conclusion, it seems that Red Bull’s target consumers are not as affected by the economic environment as one might think (Euromonitor 2012d).

The biggest change, however, that has occurred since the 1990s, is, without much doubt, the expansion of the internet. From 2005-2010 alone, the number of internet users in the world, rose from 1 billion to 2 billion, and the number is expected to almost double come 2020 (Euromonitor 2011d). In the beginning of the 1990s the internet was still fairly new to the common consumer, and in the US for instance, only 18 percent of the population had an internet connection at home in 1997 – meaning that approximately half of all home computer were connected to the world wide web (Euromonitor 2011a & Euromonitor 2011d). In 2003, 54 % of Americans had access to the internet at home and by 2009 the number was 68% (US Census Bureau 2010). Media consumption in general, including both TV and use of internet on phones, computers and tablets, has risen quite dramatically, especially among the younger demographics. Especially tweens, the 8-12 year olds, who have become a focal point for many marketers in recent years, are consuming massive amounts of media. On average tweens spend 60% more time watching TV than they spend time in school (Lindstrøm 2003: 290) and when it comes to internet usage, tweens are the first generation to have grown up with the internet as something to take for granted, and are therefore often a lot more tech-savvy than older generations (Lindstrøm 2004: 290 & Euromonitor 2006b). Both tweens and teens have, because of their high media consumption, become very important to marketers, and as Red Bulls target consumers include teenagers, this development is something that the company should also consider when they decide on marketing strategies, especially in connection with the new marketing trend known as viral marketing, which I will discuss further in the following paragraph.

The internet expansion and emergence of smart phones has led to what one might consider and evolution of the word-of-mouth or buzz-marketing that Red Bull has used through the 90s and 00s, namely viral marketing. Viral marketing is “the distribution or communication that relies on consumers to transmit contents […] to other potential consumers in their social sphere and to animate these contacts to also transmit the content” (Yang, 2011, p85). It is a marketing strategy that is especially effective with the tech-savvy younger generations, who have grown up with computers,...
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