COMM 3172 – 601
Summer Semester I – 2009
Marketing Energy Drinks to Americas Youth
As I started collecting information for this paper, I soon realized that the energy drink industry is a very small (18 percent) part of the beverage industry, but a very dominant part to say the least. Interestingly, the major players in the industry, Monster Energy, Red Bull, and Rockstar, have intentionally veered away from the conventional mediums used to promote products. They instead have chosen marketing mediums that appeal more to their target markets and the “live life on the edge” lifestyles that they live. Monster for example, shies away from mass market advertising; instead they focus all of their sales efforts and marketing muscle on sponsoring action sports athletes, artists and musical, events and tours. All of this ties in with the company’s overall philosophy that Monster isn’t just a beverage, but a lifestyle brand (Landi). “The key is for us (Monster) to retain what we do best, which is marketing in an unconventional way and keep that feel for the brand,” said Rodney Sacks, CEO of Hansen Natural Corp. “Monster is all about action sports, punk rock music, partying, girls, and living life on the edge” (Landi). The companies that produce energy drinks are using the current popularity of action sports such as motocross, skateboarding, BMX, etc., to showcase their products and to further brand awareness. It’s not coincidental that the demographic that participates in these sports and idolizes its professional athletes are also the same demographic that consumes energy drinks. You’ll see very few TV commercials or print ads promoting energy drinks but when you turn on the ESPN produced X-Games, just about every athlete participating is sponsored by Red Bull, Monster, or Rockstar. John Lee, director of sports marketing for Monster Energy Drink says, “We don’t do print ads or television. We strictly have promoted our brand through athletes and the events that the athletes compete in.”
With our current generation (Gen – Y) of young Americans being the first to really grow up with the Web, it is important for marketeers to embrace the use of the internet as a vital marketing tool and communication medium (Ness). “This group has a lot of lifetime ahead of them and that makes their Lifetime Value (LTV) high for marketers,” says Greg Ness, Chief Strategy Officer, Burst Media. Ness was also quick to point out that, “one-third of current college students spend 10 or more hours online per week and one-fifth spend 20 hours or more online.” Ness concludes, “Their time online exceeds the amount of time they are spending watching TV or listening to the radio.”
Monster has recently starting using the internet as a recruiting / marketing tool of sorts when they introduced the “Monster Army.” The Army is a “grassroots marketing outreach community that also locates up-and-coming athletes seeking sponsorship opportunities” (Campanelli). In the past few years, more than 50,000 athletes (recruits) have signed up as members of the Monster Army where more than 1,000 of them are currently sponsored through the program. “It’s been a very successful program, our Army members are out there spreading the word about our products, telling ten of their friends who in turn tell ten of their friends, it’s a snowball effect” (Lee). In addition Monster has also recently announced an exclusive relationship with the Loop’d Network, a social media platform exclusively for online sports communities. The Loop’d Network currently boasts more than 200,000 members worldwide (Campanelli).
The history of energy drinks is much deeper than most would imagine. Japan is credited for pioneering the energy drink phenomenon, but the first mass produced energy drink was called Lucozade, and was launched in 1929, in the UK (Research Wikis). It wasn’t until Red Bull, which...