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Red Bull: Just winging it with marketing sans manufacturing

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During a business trip to Bangkok in 1987, Dietrich Mateschitz discovered a drink that he found to be the perfect jet lag remedy. Krating Daeng is a form of energy drink that translates to “Red Bull” in Thai. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Operating Model

The energy drink is made by a Thai licensee, not by an Austrian firm. Red Bull, for its part, invests both money and labour to create and retain a positive brand image for the Red Bull name. The company is not a beverage maker but rather a supporter of extreme sports like cliff diving and skydiving. In 2012, Red Bull also funded Felix Baumgartner’s world-record-breaking skydive, during which he smashed the sound barrier in freefall. Red Bull owns many extreme sporting events, including Flugtag and the Red Bull Air Races, in addition to sponsoring them. Red Bull also owns teams in other sports, such as the eponymous Formula 1 team that has won multiple world championships.

The Company Has Wings

Red Bull’s heavy emphasis on brand awareness rather than product innovation aligns with its consumer value proposition. Customers will drink from a can with the same logo as a Formula 1 car, a skateboard, and a record-breaking parachute, making them feel active and edgy. 

Red Bull also sells energy drinks at events it hosts or supports. The Red Bull Flugtag is a yearly event that takes place in Germany in which participants attempt to launch home-built, human-powered flying machines off a pier 30 feet above the water, and this allows the company to get closer to its customers.

With or without wings, Red Bull is a brand that fits in with the fast and furious lifestyle of its many consumers, or those just looking to fly that bit higher and get that bit more done. And its remarkable success is made all the more notable thanks to its unique business model that perpetuated its present day success.

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