A Brand Marketing Lesson from Red Bull

100912_red_bull_stratos_live_tRed Bull has a reputation of being an exciting and youthful brand. On October 14th Felix Baumgartner made history by rising into the stratosphere and jumping out of the Red Bull Stratos balloon, a 55 story ultra-thin helium balloon. Baumgartner’s 830 mile an hour descent was witnessed by over 8 million people worldwide on the television and via the internet. The video went viral on YouTube with 32 million plus views in a matter of hours. Pictures posted on Facebook of the event garnered almost 216,000 likes and over 30,000 shares in less than an hour.

The Red Bull Flugtag is another example of creative marketing. The first one was held in Vienna, Austria in 1992, and since then has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon. These events draw up to 300,000 attendees per event and are held in countries all around the world. In this contest people build their own human powered flying machines and launch them off of a 30 foot high deck above water. Entries are not so much judged on their flying ability, but more of the creativity of the entries. Inspiration for the entries includes space age vehicles, colorful kites, and some entries defy explanation. The record stands at 207 feet at the 2010 Flugtag in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The Red Bull website includes humorous cartoons, connections to the music world and television in the form of the Rock Report, and video games such as the Red Bull Soapbox Racer. Red Bull also takes full advantage of social marketing on its Facebook page which has over 23 million fans. Red Bull also sponsors several sporting events including the Red Bull Air Race, soccer, motorcross racing, and skateboard training. The company has developed over 100 contact points with its customers, mostly based on reputation and not the actual taste of the beverage. It is energy and vibrancy that Red Bull markets. The contact with its consumer base is vast, and it is a method of brand marketing that is working well for Red Bull.

A pioneer in brand marketing 30 years ago, Red Bull has become a world sales leader. Their 2012 fiscal sales report reported $3 billion in sales and $400 million in profits. Its dollar market share in the US alone is 43%. It outranks Starbucks Refreshers and Monster energy drinks. Their worldwide market share is 16% and this number is growing each year.  So how does a brand that hardly ever talks about the taste of its beverages gain such a large market share? In a recent article for the Harvard Business News, David Aaker cited the company’s tenacious and aggressive connection to sporting and current events. Unlike traditional funnel marketing, Red Bull taps into the cache of being associated with exciting and energetic sporting and public events.

Red Bull has built a core brand presence which has had its finger on the pulse of trends across the market. They have done this not by developing just a few very expensive sponsorship programs, but by becoming involved in several quirky and inexpensive sponsorships that have built into a powerful cumulative brand marketing effort. Their success can be attributed to consistency over the years, creative and edgy marketing,and creating a buzz through the digital and mainstream media. It is a lesson for all businesses to learn.

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