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Red Bull and its successful innovations in the soft drinks market

1 Executive summary
Red Bull is an energy drink that was launched in Austria in 1987 by an entrepreneur, Dieter Matteschitz. He built the company up to annual sales now worth 1.5 billion. Red Bulls success story is remarkable as the soft drink industry is one with high barriers to entry and soft drink companies have to deal with high buyer power of distribution and retailers. This is all due to the dominant brands like Coca Cola and Pepsi having a tight grip on the retailers and their shelf space. Nonetheless, Red Bull has been able to enter this market successfully by innovating in a variety of ways: - Product innovation: Red Bull created a product that fills the gap in consumer needs for a cold drink that gives mental energy. - Market segmentation innovation: Red Bull used a very targeted approach compared to the mass marketing approach of the incumbents. - Channel innovation: Red Bull used a pull strategy in order to gain shelf space in the retail channel. Pull is created by gaining popularity among the consumers by offering products in alternative channels, for example bars and health clubs. - Marketing innovation: Red Bull has used creative onsite promotions instead of mass marketing approach of the incumbents. Red Bulls market entry was clever in several ways. Their focused segmentation and marketing efforts helped the company cross the chasm. Since the initial target customers extreme sports enthusiasts and clubberswere influential opinion leaders, the mass market quickly reacted to consume Red Bull. Furthermore, the segmented approach enabled Red Bull to offer its product at a higher price as the willingness to pay of their target segment was higher than the mass market. Although Red Bull now caters to the mass market, it has been able to maintain customers higher willingness to pay. Finally, Red Bull innovated new channels such as clubs and bars instead of relying on big retailers. This allowed Red Bull to shorten its time to marketwhich was an essential factor in fighting off mighty incumbents. Another factor that enabled Red Bulls success was its early solidification of a strong brand name before the incumbents entered the fight. This was another crucial factor that enabled Red Bull to maintain and grow its market share in spite of its extremely limited product portfolio. In order for Red Bull to grow in the future, we believe it is imperative to expand into new market segments as well as horizontally expand its product offerings (i.e. energy gel, alco-pops, etc). As the incumbents are now fiercely trying to overthrow Red Bull from its number one position, Red Bull must enhance its brand positioning in the market. Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship

2 Introduction to Red Bull

2.1 The Birth of Red Bull
Many great ideas are born in a bar, and Red Bull is no exception. In 1982, Dietrich

Mateschitzan Austrian native and an employee of Unileverwas sitting in a bar of the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong on one of his many business trips to Asia. As he sipped on his drinks, he came up with the idea to commercialize energy potions highly caffeinated drinks that enjoyed wide popularity in Asiato the western markets1. Dietrich approached TC Pharmaceuticals of Thailand and asked for the foreign licensing rights of Krating Daengthe original Red Bull energy potion. The original Red Bull is quite different from the western version as it came in a glass bottle, syrupy (like a cough syrup), and non-carbonated. It also catered to blue-collar workers, and had an image of being the drinks for truck drivers. The owners of TC Pharmaceuticals agreed to the offer in return for 51% stake in Dietrichs new company, which was later founded in 1984 as Red Bull GmbH in Austria2. Unlike the original Red Bull, Dietrich did not pursue the blue collar market. He decided to cater to a younger and more active segment that enjoyed nigh-clubbing and extreme sports. In short, his strategy was to convert a blue collar drink of Asia into a hip brand in the west. In order to fit European tastes, the original formula was refined by making it less syrupy and by adding a fizzy touch through carbonation. After three years of preparatory work, Dietrich launched the Red Bull Energy Drink in Austria in 1987, and sold 1 million cans in the Austrian domestic market in the first year3.

2.2 Phenomenal Growth through Global Expansion

Red Bull followed a start small, grow big strategy, which lead to its sustained growth over eighteen years. Their growth was triggered in 1992, when Red Bull began its international expansion to Hungary. After that, Red Bull engaged in a series of aggressive international expansion, with significant moves being 1994 (UK, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland), 1995 (Eastern European countries, Brazil and Australia), and 1997 (USA). As a result, Red Bull is now available in over 100 countries world wide. Today, what began as an idea in a bar became a phenomenally successful venture with reported annual sales of 1.5 billion cans or $1.55 billion in 20034. The company
1 Red

Bull homepage (, 2004 News, Red Bull: Raging Success, July 2001 3 Euromo nitor Red Bull GmbH, 2004 4 Austrian News Digest, March 12, 2004

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 6 of 26 remains private under the same ownership. With essentially one product from Asia, Dietrich became one of the most successful businessperson in the world, which is exemplified by his recent addition to the Forbes List of Billionaires.

2.3 The Product

Red Bull is characterized by two elements in its formulacaffeine and energyenhancing ingredientswhich the company claims to make it the perfect drink to energize the body before strenuous activities such as extreme sports and all-night clubbing. Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine, which is almost twice that of a can of Coca Cola or Pepsi, or an equivalent to a cup of filtered coffee. Energy-enhancing ingredients include Taurine (amino acid), Glucuronolactone (carbohydrate), and several other sugars and vitamins. The drink is available only in a 250mL can. In

2003, another product line Red Bull Sugar Free, was added to the portfolio 5 . .

3 The Industry
3.1 The Soft Drink Market
The global soft drink market was roughly $307 billion in 2003, with a CAGR of 4.7% over the last 4 years. The market is dominated by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that hold 6.7% and 3.3% share respectively. The remaining players have much less than 1% of the
5 Redbull

website (, 2004

The Original Red Bull (Krating Daeng) Red Bull Energy Drink (Left) and Red Bull Sugar Free (Right)
47.1% 19.5% 18.9% 10.4% 4.1% Carbonates Juices Bottled Water New Age Beverages Functional Drinks

Soft Drink Market (2003): $307 billion

Global Soft Drink market Source: Datamonitor 2004

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 7 of 26 market6. For example, Red Bull, even with its 2003 sales of $1.55 billion, only has 0.48% share of the market. Within the soft drink market exist a sub-category called functional drinks, which is further divided into sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) and energy drinks (Red Bull). The two are classified differently due to their differing functionssport drinks main function is to hydrate the body during or after exercise, while an energy drinks function is to energize the body, not to quench thirst. The soft drink market is generally considered to be a mature market, especially in carbonated drinks that control roughly 47% of the market. However, new segments such as bottled water, fruit juice and energy drinks are experiencing high growth and are expected to continue growing in the future.

3.2 The Energy Drink Market

In 2003, the energy drink market was roughly $5.05 billion, with regional breakdown of 39% for Europe ($1.95 billion), 60% for Asia-Pacific, and the remainder going to the US and the rest of the world. Although the market is quickly growing, the absolute size of energy drinks is extremely small at 1.6% of the $307 billion soft drinks market. Thus, industry experts say there is still much potential for future growth for energy drinks, especially in key markets such as the US and the UK7. However when Red Bull GmbH was founded in 1987, the market landscape for energy drinks looked much different. Though Asia-

Pacific already had many products available, the rest of the world had an almost zero market. In essence, Red Bull was an innovation that was transferred from Asia to the Western worlds. We will later analyze the industry using the Porters 5 forces model at the time of entry1987.

3.3 Value Chain Analysis

The value chain for energy drinks is the same for other soft drinks, as briefly described below.
6 Datamonitor, 7 Datamonitor,

Global Soft Drinks 2004 Global Functional Drinks 2004

Functional Drink Market (2003): $5.05 billion

40% 60% Energy Drinks Sports Drinks

Global Functional Drinks market Source: Datamonitor 2004

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 8 of 26

Concentrate Production Packaging Distribution Retail Formula Creation End consumer Energy Drink Value Chain

3.3.1 Formula Creation Energy drinks formulae are usually created together with pharmaceutical companies that hold key ingredients as well as nutritional know- how and capabilities. Once a formula is created, it is rarely changed. As for Red Bull, the original formula was created by TC pharmaceuticals. It is essentially the same across the globe, except in a few countries where its caffeine content has been adjusted to fit local regulations. 3.3.2 Concentrate Production Based on the formula, the necessary ingredients are bought from pharmaceutical companies to create the concentrate. The concentrate is then mixed with carbonated water to complete the content formation. The process involves relatively little capital investment, and one plant can serve an entire country. Big players are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schwepps and Cott Corporation8. Red Bull engages in this activity at its Austrian plant. 3.3.3 Packaging The finished mix is packaged into cans, bundled into cartons, and sent to distribution. This is a highly capital intensive operation that requires specialized high-speed lines. Red Bull is packaged at its Austrian Plant. 3.3.4 Distribution The distribution is often conducted by bottlers (Coca-Cola, PespsiCo, etc.) or through a solely owned distribution ent ity (Red Bull). From here, the products are sent to retail outlets for distribution to the end-customers.

Red Bull has traditionally relied on its own distribution subsidiaries, but has recently decided to utilize outside distributors to enter new markets such as India.
8 Harvard

Business School: The Cola Wars Continue, July 2002

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 9 of 26 3.3.5 Retail The retail channel is the contact-point of the product and the end-consumers. For energy drinks, retail outlets include bars and nigh clubs, supermarkets, convenience stores, health clubs, etc. Red Bull is available in all of these channels, and is considered the number one energy drink brand in all of them.

3.4 Energy Drink Industry analysis - 1987

Supplier Power CAPEX Distribution No Incumbent brand Barriers to Entry Substitutes/ Complements Industry Rivalry Buyer Power

High High Few Low

Raw materials are commodity No Rivals (except in Asia) Distribution End-consumers Substitutes Cofee Complements Alcohol (ex. Vodka) Extreme Sports

Industry analysis (1987)

3.4.1 Internal Rivalry 1987: No rivals except in Asia In 1987, energy drinks were non-existent outside of Asia. On the other hand, Asia Pacific had numerous competitors such as M-100 and M-150 of Thailand and Oronamin C and Lipovitan D of Japan. As mentioned earlier, these Asian energy drinks were traditionally marketed toward blue-collar workers, unlike the Dietrichs Red Bull which later catered to a younger, more active and more hip crowd. 3.4.2 Barriers to Entry 1987: High but no incumbents Entry into the energy drinks market outside of Asia in 1987 had two barriers; capital intensity and distribution. The first is the necessity to set up a plant to mix, bottle and Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 10 of 26 package the products. Clearly, these activities are not labor intensive and require substantial amounts of initial capital expenditures. Second, and more importantly, is the entry into the distribution. Since retail shelves are limited and are filled by other

soft drinks, it is extremely difficult for an unknown product to win any shelf space. Comparatively, entry into the bar/night club market was relatively easier than retail for their relative ease to approach and negotiate. However in spite of these barriers, Red Bull enjoyed one key advantagethe lack of an incumbent brand to fight with. As the segment was non-existent, Red Bull was free to define the segment and monopolise it with their brand. 3.4.3 Substitutes and Complements 1987: Few substitutes and complements From a functional perspective of stimulants, coffee can be classified as a substitute. However, there are major differences (hot temperature, lack of recognition as a mixer, and unavailability in a can), that makes it a non-threatening substitute. Key complements to Red Bull are alcoholic drinks like vodka and tequila, which are used to make popular drinks at bars and night clubs. Furthermore, social factors such as night clubbing and extreme sports play a key role in building the brand image of Red Bull. 3.4.4 Power of Buyers 1987: High As with any other soft drinks, buyers have extremely high power in determining the success of a new product. First, the retailers play a crucial role by providing shelf space for the productsa key factor in pushing the products to the market. It is said that 60% of energy drinks are sold through supermarkets and convenience stores9. Since shelf space is a limited resource, retailers traditionally hold great power and are not shy to exercise their power in negotiations for price and product shipment priorities. Such power of the retailers acts as a significant barrier for start-up companies. Second, end-consumers, while not as strong as the retailers, play a key role in pulling the product to the market. Their power to ask for specific brands over retail counters and bars is substantial, thus many companies attempt to win their loyalty through extensive marketing activities such as branding, promotions and advertisements. 3.4.5 Power of Suppliers 1987: Low
9 New

York Times, April 4, 2004

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 11 of 26 Raw materials for the energy drinks include concentrates (with energy-enhancing ingredients), soda, cans and a few other minor ingredients. All of these are commodities and can be procured easily, and therefore do not act as a key threat.

4 Innovations by Red Bull in the soft drinks market

Innovation has to be seen in a broad perspective in the case of Red Bulls entry into the soft drink market. Strictly speaking, Red Bull is not a real innovation as the product existed in geographically different markets before it was launched in Austria. However, the success of Red Bull outside of the Asian markets can only be explained when the following innovative approaches of launching this new soft drink are considered and analyzed: Product, market segmentation, channel approach and marketing innovations.

In the following paragraphs each of these innovations are analyzed and compared to the incumbent approach.

4.1 Product innovation

In the European soft drink market, several functional drinks existed before the entrance of Red Bull. Traditional soft drinks focus on thirst quenching functionality, whereas sport drinks have the same prime functionality with the added advantage of restabilizing the body balance of minerals and sugars. Alcoholic drinks have the advantage of their alcohol content which takes the edge off people and relaxes them. Hot drinks containing caffeine have a social function as well as an awakening effect, but their usage is limited to certain moments as they are difficult to carry around or sell at remote places. Furthermore, coffee does not have the same young image that soft drinks are associated with.
Coke Gatorate Isostar Red Bull Coffee

Cold Hot Thirst quenching Sport Energy Mental Energy

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 12 of 26 Red Bulls product innovation is the combination of the awakening effect of coffee mixed with the advantages of a cold drink. The product is innovative in its fit with the gap that is left at the cross section of soft drinks with coffee.

4.2 Market segmentation innovation

Red Bull, to a certain extent, competes with other soft drinks. The soft drink industrys product offering targets the general population. Although their marketing and promotional campaigns appear focused on one media (focus on young consumers on TV for example), looking at the cross usage of all media they target all consumers with their product offering. Red Bull on the other hand marketed its product to a very small market segment of 18-25 male extreme sport fanatics and club fans. This enabled the company to better fit its 4Ps to its target segment and gain an advantage on the traditional soft drink companies. Furthermore, the market segments were chosen in a way that they set an example for other possible consumers so that the final market is big enough to enable growth. This is not the case with the target segment of sports drinks where these drinks are only consumed by athletes after their sports efforts. Red bull is consumed by a whole group of wanna-be extreme sporters.

4.3 Channel innovation

The traditional soft drinks manufacturers like Coca Cola and Pepsi have extremely high power over the distribution channels. As a result, they never expected a new player to take shelf spacethey were confident in their ability to squash newcomers by developing competing products and flooding the distribution channel. Furthermore, they believed that no new soft drink company would have the cash to buy itself shelf space via commercials and thus enter their market. This power usage had been the only way of entering the soft drinks market before Red Bull used its innovative channel approach to enter the retail channel.

Red Bull started by selling its produc ts in small distribution outlets like bars and health clubs and concentrated their limited cash to promote its products in these outlets. After enough time had passed and a pull force from the consumers was generated, Red Bull had the power to persuade the retail distribution channel to put its products on the shelf. Red Bull thus used a pull method to get its products on the shelves whereas the industry was used to using a push method in order to achieve the same goal. This enabled Red Bull to catch the incumbents by surprise and gain market share in a market considered impossible to penetrate.

4.4 Marketing innovation

Incumbents in the soft drinks business mostly use conventional means of marketing to get awareness for their products. This usually means advertising in media and onsite promotion of products in retail stores. As these means of marketing were unavailable to Red Bull for several years, it had to be creative in its marketing approach. Advertising in media was not feasible for Red Bull as it was not available for most Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 13 of 26 consumers to buy as the investments could not be earned back. And as Red Bull was not available in retail stores at first, onsite promotions could not be used to promote the product. In conjunction with its channel approach, Red Bull used targeted onsite marketing of its product with promotional caravans and high visibility at extreme events and beach parties. These methods of guerilla marketing warfare were used until the product had created enough pull from the public for it to be added to the retail product offering. After this availability Red Bull started using conventional means of marketing to get broader awareness for its product.

5 Analysis of Innovation Success

5.1 Crossing the Chasm
Many products enter into the soft drink market eve ry year, but most of them are not able to cross over the chasm and end up joining multiple other fads in the innovation graveyard. Red Bull was able to successfully cross the chasm to reach early and late majority for two reasons. First, while many energy enhancing products such as sports drinks and energy bars are confined to a relatively small sports market, Red Bull chose to attack a much larger marketthe bars and clubs. In its early marketing efforts, Red Bull promoted at extreme sports events to formalize its image as a performance enhancer. However at the same time, Red

Bull went into the bar market with its active and hip image to attack a much bigger market base. This was a key move for Red Bull, as the bars/clubs market relies heavily on word of mouthin other words, people quickly recognize and try a popular drink. This viral effect played a key factor in allowing Red Bull to quickly gain popularity to reach critical mass. Second, Red Bull chose to pursue a careful and staged country expansion strategy. Every time they entered into a new market, they promoted heavily to make sure Red Bull crossed the chasm before moving on to other markets. This focus and dedication worked to solidify Red Bulls market presence in each country. This had another effect on other countries pulling the popular Red Bull to their markets. In short, Red Bull chose to cross over multiple small chasms incrementally, rather than taking on a big bang global approach. As a result of these activities, Red Bull was able to avoid the fad trap to become a globally recognized brand. Chasm

Innovators Early Adopters Early Majority Late Majority Laggards Fads

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 14 of 26

5.2 Willingness To Pay (WTP)

The innovative approach to product, channel management, market segmentation and marketing not only strengthen the Red Bull brand but also increased the willingness to pay (WTP) and the part of WTP that could be captured in the price. 5.2.1 Product innovation Red Bull came up with a new formula, different from ordinary soft drinks. It contained extra ingredients and apart from being soft drink it also had an energy stimulating function. This extra function differentiated it from common soft drinks and increased the willingness to pay. So did the new packaging, both through the obvious reason, that it was attractively packaged in a uniquely shaped can, and also through the less obvious reason that the can contained only 250 ml, (The soft drink industry standard were 330 ml cans). Red Bull was priced at approximately double the price of a Coca Cola, but after taking into account the different volumes the difference in price was even higher. 5.2.2 Channel innovation Red Bull started off selling its products in small distribution outlets like bars and

health clubs. Through their creative approach to distribution they could leverage from choosing more exclusive channels. This defined and cool environment helped increase the willingness to pay, because of the association of Red Bull with cool people in cool settings. These environments also made it possible to price discriminate as people expect to pay a higher price at bars as well as health clubs. 5.2.3 Marketing innovation Through clever marketing Red Bull managed to build an authentic, credible and qualitative brand which the consumers were willing to pay a premium for. Through targeted marketing campaigns and consistently choosing cool events to sponsor they built one of the strongest brand in the world. Red Bull built a strong identity from the beginning, focusing on a well defined niche, resulting in an increase in the willingness to pay. 5.2.4 Clever market segmentation Through clever market segmentation, where they focused on extreme sport and clubbing, they made it possible to price a premium for the product. Traditionally the soft drink market had not competed on price; a can of Coke was sold at the same price as a lesser known brand. Red bull managed to avoid this price boundary when defining the new energy drink market within the soft drink market. A new clearly
New formula (energy) New packaging (250 ml) Strong marketing Clever distribution Cool brand at cool places

Price for soft drinks Price for Red Bull Clever segmentation opened up for price discrimination Key Drivers for WTP: WTP for Red Bull
Red Bull manage to leverage from every innovation area in driving and capturing an increase in the willingness to pay.

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 15 of 26 defined niche market made it possible for price discrimination to capture the higher willingness to pay.

5.3 Red Bulls Uncertainties and Risks

Although we can conclude that Red Bull managed to successfully innovate the soft drink market in many different ways, doing so was connected with uncertainties and risks. The probability that all different activities to reach a final concept would succeed can be assumed to be fairly low, but with an entrepreneurial spirit and a clear focus they managed to reduce the risk of failure. 5.3.1 External Uncertainties Market uncertainty Red Bull thought hard about who their buyer would be and cleverly initially targeted the influential 15-25 year old male sporty/club, user. The idea was to start on a small scale utilizing an alternative distribution method that was not intended to provide mass distribution. They also started small, in Austria and staged international expansion. However, in the long run the future user could be a wider base, including female and global buyers. Thus the quite targeted short-run

market was designed to reduce buyer uncertainty whilst leaving the long run customer uncertainty high but in the hope that this would work to their advantage, as it did. Competing with themselves is not a threat as Red Bull is a one product company. Competitive uncertainty In the short-run there was no real rival risk as Red Bull managed to define a new niche market where no competitors were established. However, in the long-run competition would be high and Red Bull needed consumers and eventually retailers on their side in order to protect themselves from the likes of Coca Cola. With a successful brand development and through reaching a critical mass they leveraged from the strength of the consumers and established their strong position in the new market. 5.3.2 Internal uncertainties Technological Uncertainty This uncertainty is low for Red Bull as the company was founded after the R&D had been done and the formula created. However, there was a certain adaptation risk by changing this formula. Long-run changes and performance risk could be understood if we look at how the Coca Cola formula has endured, so if the Red Bull formula is a success then there is no reason it can not endure the long-run. However changes in format might need to be considered, for example they have introduced Red Bull Sugar free. Operational uncertainty The relevant scale of operations was not very uncertain as the short run market scale was quite targeted it meant operational expansion would be staged with market expansions. With a start small, think big approach they could expand step by step. In the long-run it would be necessary to adapt production and distribution to increased demand so it can be assumed the factory/distribution was able to cope with increased capacity as well as the ability to add new capacity. Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 16 of 26 Organizational uncertainty The initial buy-in risk was low as the two founder/owners contributed initial capital and Dietrich was a great inspiration to his company. Future opportunity risk needs to be considered as the one product company may need to innovate on new products ideas for growth and loyalty. 5.3.3 5- I Framework Impossibility Risk p(internal success). Given the owners/founders had invested themselves on an idea that had worked well in Asia, the impossibility risk from inside the company would have to have been based on the ability to adapt Red Bull to western tastes and achieve marketing success. The product innovation as well as their marketing innovations where internal risks. Incentives and controls Controls on the owners were high they were spending their own money! On the flipside, company ownership incentives were low as ownership was held tightly with the owners. However the owners enthusiasm combined with global aspirations and an employee base which had a strong work ethic meant there were natural incentives in place. Also as the company started small scale (Austria!) and only expanded once it conquered that market and was able to self finance expansion, there was no incentive to overextend and to go global until the company was ready. Initial Market Choices Because of the high uncertainty risk involved in a mass market approach and high barriers to entry in traditional retail channels of distribution Red Bull selectively chose a smaller target market and new routes to market to

decrease risks of failure. Interdependence P(success) Red Bull had no real interdependence with other external projects, but was highly dependent on internal interdependence of success in the different innovation activities; product, channel, marketing and market segmentation. For Red Bull to be able to survive the process of conception to consumer it would need to be successful in its innovations. The reduced risk could not erase the importance of external perceptiveness, the product must be adopted by the consumer and the chosen market segment, the distribution channels must be successful in reaching the end consumer and the brand image must be something that appealed to the target market. Incentives and controls Initial Market Choices Expectations for Innovation Outcomes Integration
Time to Market

Interdependence Impossibility Risk 5-I Risk Framework Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 17 of 26 Although it is impossible to exactly evaluate the probability of success it is still possible to make some simple assumption to show that although reducing the risks the combined probability for success could still have been less than 50%. Probability of success (Product innovation) x P. success(market segmentation innovation) x P P.success(marketing innovation) x P.success(channel innovation) = 1 x .9(influential and easily influence market) x .8(clever marketing but no guarantee of success) x .5(difficult to determine success) These are estimates. = 36% chance of success! Integration time to market/downstream intermediaries. Red bull shortened their time to market. They were vertically integrated from production to most distribution so they had good control over this. Expectations for Innovation Outcomes The founder/owners had high expectations. They believed in their innovative ideas. Thus they set their expectations high based on their entrepreneurial enthusiasm rather than their interdependence risk.

6 Incumbents reaction to Red Bull

While Red Bull was enjoying phenomenal growth, great incumbents such as CocaCola were slow to react. Even in the late 1990s, when Red Bull was on its way to becoming a popular brand, Coca-Cola remained a silent onlooker and did not choose to launch a competing brand. It was not until 2001 that Coca-Cola entered with its KMX Blue and Orange, Burn and BMP brands.

6.1 Coca Cola reacts

It took Coca Cola 14 years to respond to Red Bull. Maybe a part of this was the belief that Red Bull was not really a threat. The energy drink portion of the many hundred million dollar soft drink market was worth less than 1% and Coke was more focused on its rival Pepsi to be concerned with a little mosquito like Red Bull. 6.1.1 Burn/KMX When Coca Cola finally realized that they needed to respond in order to gain a growing share of the drinks market, they introduced their competing brand KMX in the USA and Burn and BMP in Europe. There was nothing innovative about KMX or Burn it was a direct copy of the Red Bull idea. The can was the same shape, the market was obviously the same but it did try to add natural ingredients, such as ginseng to attract consumers. Coca Cola assumed it could take Red Bulls market by very nearly imitating the product. They were wrong. Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 18 of 26 In the 3 years that KMX has been in the market it has only gained a 5.2% market share in the US energy drinks market. Its near term strategy is to continue pushing KMX. KMX is desperately trying to appeal to consumers, its website asks customers what flavours they want, what events or athletes they should sponsor and what are good serving ideas for KMX. It also has started to do what they call innovative marketing by selling over the internet10. 6.1.2 BPM BPM stands for beats per minute and Coca Cola introduced it into Ireland to compete with Lucozade and Red Bull. It is being introduced into the UK in Summer 2004. It is
10 Factiva

may 2003 KMX is based on one premise: living life means being aware of all that surrounds you. Gaps between the obvious, the expected and the easily perceived- these are when things really get interesting. The space between a yellow and red light when its entirely black. That certain song you can actually taste as it flows through you. The powerful yet unseen energy that pulses around a crowd of people on the dance floor. KMX was created from a desire not only to be aware of these bits of life, but to seek them out and embrace them fully. Simply put KMX is made for the people who depart from the beaten path in order to find these special experiences. KMX. Ignite the mind.

Burn was launched in 2001 and is still available in some parts of the trade sector but has never crossed over into supermarkets. Burn is now available in Holland, Spain, Ukraine, UK, Germany and Greece. Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Page 19 of 26 differentiating itself with its coloured plastic bottles instead of the traditional aluminum can. Also in the UK Coca Cola is planning to roll out yet another energy drink called Full Throttle, which launch has already been delayed until the end of this year. This introduction of a new competing product and its delay indicates the lack of coordination and overall strategy Coca Cola has for its share of the Red Bull space. Thus Coca Colas reaction to Red Bull has not been terribly effective. Coke still lacks a popular entry in the highly profitable energy-drink category to compete with Red Bull. KMX continues to sputter11. 6.1.3 Why Coca Cola failed The Strategists at Coke must see many new little upstarts come up with new formulas or even new ideas for the soft drinks market and obviously most of them fail. Therefore when Red Bull appeared on the market place, they must have watched with little interest. In fact they were probably quite comfortable in the knowledge that if any drink did become popular, they would be capable not only of imitation but also of domination. Coca Cola, with its enormous marketing budgets and supplier power was not ready for the dark horse, or rather the Red Bull about to create new space in their safe territory. First, Red Bull was a clever entrant in a high barrier to entrant market. It did not compete with Coca Cola head on rather it sought other routes to market. Red Bull innovated with product, marketing and distribution. Using these innovative techniques (as discussed in the previous chapters), it was able to cleverly target its end user. The brand succeeded on its inexpensive targeting to influential users of the
11 Wall

Sreet Journal Europe, 4 May 2004

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 20 of 26 soft drink market. This enabled them to cross the chasm with out much difficulty and is a text book example of the tipping point at work. It appears that Coca Cola was not prepared for the innovative Red Bull product or market space it had created. This unawareness combined with little focus on innovation and internal wrangling meant Coca Cola was not only slow on the uptake but responded poorly. For example Coca Cola pulled out of negotiations to buy Gatorade because of internal disagreements. Gatorade was immediately snapped up by Pepsi and is now number one in the sports energy space.

6.2 Coca Colas options for the future

What are Coca Colas options? They could buy Red Bull and incorporate it into their portfolio of soft drinks, they can continue competing in the Red Bull sphere with their existing brands or they can exit the market. Buying Red Bull is probably a thought that is now crossing Coca Colas mind as it made the mistake of not buying an established brand when Pepsi did. Pepsi bought out an existing energy drink brand SoBe in 2002 whilst Coca Cola decided to invest in its own R&D to produce its own energy drink/s. SoBe now has the second largest market share after Red Bull (albeit 10% this is still double Cokes market share in the sector). Ironically if you combine SoBe with Pepsis AMP energy drink the combined Pepsi share is about 20% compared to the 5.2% of Coke in the USA.

Alternatively they can continue to market a lot harder their existing brands as well as new brands they are bringing to the market. Or perhaps more sensibly Coca Cola should ask if their global presence in this market space which is made up of three unrelated brands - KMX, Burn, and BPM, should somehow be consolidated. Maybe they should try marketing one brand. Lastly Coca Cola could leave this market to the likes of Red Bull, but this is probably not a viable option. Coca Cola is used to being the soft drink king and it is unlikely they would concede to a little Red Bull when they have been fighting the much bigger Pepsi for decades. Coca Colas CFO, Gary Fayard has admitted that it has been bitten by the mosquito I am convinced that a lot of the slowdown in soft-drink volume is because we forgot we had to innovate in soft drinks and keep consumers interested. In summary Coca Colas reaction to Red Bull has been slow and ineffectual. Even now their presence in the energy drinks market is very fragmented and Coca Cola is not well placed to compete with the international brand Red Bull. In order to be a real threat Coca Cola needs to organize a serious world-wide initiative. Once Coca Cola, with its huge marketing budgets and distribution channels, does this it could then pose a serious threat to Red Bull. I

7 Future of Red Bull

The future of Red Bull depends on how it can adopt to how the industry has changed since its entry and how well it can manage the opportunities and threats that can be Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 21 of 26 identified. To understand the future options for Red Bull we have to understand Red Bulls strength and weaknesses today and then derive possibilities and threats that can be seen, both from an internal view and in the context of other competitors. The following chapter will analyze the industry and the situation that Red Bull is facing today and also the possible development for the future.

7.1 Energy Drink Industry analysis - 2004

The strength of the different forces that shape the industry situation is in many ways of the same magnitude as before, with most changes in substitutes due to health trends and Threat to entry where the Red Bull brand is a strong barrier to entry for competitors.
Supplier Power CAPEX Distribution Incumbent Brand (Red Bull) Threat of Entry Substitutes/ Complements Industry Rivalry Buyer Power

High High Few Low

Raw materials are commodity Intensifying

multiple products Distribution End-consumer Substitutes Cofee Complements Alcohol (ex. Vodka) Extreme Sports

Industry analysis (2004)

7.1.1 Internal Rivalry 2004: Intensifying Although Red Bull is said to have anywhere between 70-90% share of the energy drink market, many competitors, both big and small, are entering the growing and attractive market. For example, Coca Cola entered with its KMX and PepsiCo with its Amp and SoBe in 2001. Together with Red Bull, these brands are said to Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 22 of 26 comprise as much as 90% of the global market today12. In addition to the big players, multiple small companies are entering the brand with many copy cat products such as Red Rhino, Mad Bull, Red Dragon, Red Devil and Red Batjust to name a few. Currently, Red Bull is constantly engaging in lawsuits against such imitators. All in all, the energy drink market is now comprised of more than 150 products13. 7.1.2 Barriers to Entry 2004: High In addition to the capital intensity and distribution barriers, the brand name of Red Bull is probably the biggest barrier for a new entrant. Today, the brand name of Red Bull is so powerful that customers ask for it by name when ordering energy drinks. Such loyalty is what the competitors are trying to break, and what Red Bull is trying to protect. For example, Red Bull is often involved in lawsuits against bars and clubs that serve a competitors brand when the customer explicitly asks for a Red Bull. 7.1.3 Substitutes and Complements 2004: Few substitutes and complements The threat from substitutes and complements are moderate but growing. New substitutes within the functional drink segment are emerging mostly more healthy alternatives due to a growing health trend. Vodka is still a big complement but as it still is a popular drink base and is used together with Red Bull it is more a position enhancer than a threat. 7.1.4 Power of Buyers and Suppliers 2004: High for buyer power and low for supplier power No Substantial change from 1987.
12 The 13 Beverage

New York Times, Energy drinks charm the young and caffeinated, April 4, 2004 Net, December 2003

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 23 of 26

7.2 Red Bull today

7.2.1 Weaknesses Innovation need The breakthrough for Red Bull was to innovate the soft drink market, but since it has

built its strength in its field on market leadership and brand awareness more than innovation. A number of new competing drinks have been launched in the last years with new packaging (e.g. PET, 33 cl) and ingredients; Red Bull has stuck to its original format and concept. Brand expense It has relied heavily on a clear and differentiated brand but keeping the lead has become increasingly expensive as competitors also invest heavily in marketing. The brand is becoming more and more generic with lower resistance to substituting energy drink brands which dilute the value of the brand investments. Small Product base Red Bull markets only two products, the original Red Bull and a sugar free version. It has no portfolio of products and is therefore more sensitive to changes in the market, especially when the energy drink market is considered to be the relatively smallest niche within the soft drink market. With an increasing health trend the demand for caffeine drinks risks to decrease. 7.2.2 Strengths The two most obvious strengths that Red Bull has today is its market leadership and brand awareness. Market Leadership Red Bull markets its product in more than 100 countries and it has approximately 70% of the market share in the world wide energy drink market. The rest of the top 20 brands take a combined 17% share14. No clear competitor has crystallized; e.g. Coca Colas competing energy drink Burn is absent from the top 5. Brand Awareness The intense promotion of Red Bull has not only established the brand but also driven
14 Datamonitor,

Red Bull GmbH, Company Profile, 2004 Strengths: Market leadership Brand awareness Weaknesses: Innovation needs Brand expense Small product base Situation today

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 24 of 26 the growth of the market of energy drinks as a whole. Within its target group the brand awareness is significant. The brand equity has developed during a number of years and is very hard to copy. They have managed to build an authentic, credible and qualitative brand which consumers have been willing to pay a premium for. Their advertisement through extreme sport events and similar opportunities has through its unexpected and outstanding approach established the Red Bull brand awareness.

7.3 Future options

7.3.1 Threats The energy drinks market is maturing and the threat of substitutes is getting stronger. As the brand is getting more and more generic the barrier for the consumer to switch to substitutes decreases. This together with increasing health awareness, when people

might be concerned about the caffeine content, could threaten Red Bulls position. Health awareness One can see a growing health awareness which might change the market demands. The demand for carbonated water and similar products has increased15 which changes the demand profiles within the functional drink market and may move it from the energy drink niche. Red Bull has answered these trends by introducing a sugar free version, but people might still be concerned about the caffeine content. Maturing market Red Bull has been driving the growth of energy drinks but as the market matures the growth has slowed down. This is a threat to Red Bulls future expansion. Substitutes/competing brands Competing energy drink brands and substitutes, such as other functional drinks and carbonated water, have strengthened their positions. Although Red Bull still has a strong brand, these substitutes clearly mitigate this strength. This threat is getting stronger as Red Bull is becoming a more generic brand. People are more willing to test new brands and when a customer demands a Red Bull they might be satisfied with any energy drink.
15 Datamonitor,

Red Bull GmbH, Company Profile, 2004 Opportunities: Product extension Distr. Diversification Threats: Health awareness Maturing market Substitutes Future options

Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 25 of 26 7.3.2 Opportunities We believe that to survive in an increasingly competitive and mature market it has to continue to think creatively and look for opportunities to renew its approach to the functional drink concept. Two ways of keeping the ir competitive advantage is through extension of the existing product line/target market and distribution diversification. This would address the threats that have emerged. Extension Red Bull has a strong brand which might be leveraged by possible extension of the product line, but also an extension of what market to target. When it was introduced it changed the soft drink market and created the energy drink market. A wider definition is the market for functional drinks where we see a possibility for Red Bull to extend the product line and diversify the portfolio of products, capitalizing the established brand. Red Bull could also look into new packaging and format possibilities for example PET and 330 ml cans to further defend and develop its market leadership. An extension would make it less sensible for demand changes within the energy drink market as well as opening new business opportunities in the functional drink market. Maybe it is time to think out of the box and look into new non drink products to complement the energy drink and secure growth. Energy gel, energy candy and ready to go alcoholic blends could be possible ideas. There is a clear risk with continuing to have too few eggs and in the same basket.

Distribution diversification As it once successfully managed the challenge of distribution there are still development possibilities to stimulate growth. For example there is still room for expansion using the vending channel, but Red Bull should also analyze other possible retail options.

8 Conclusions
Red Bull is considered a miracle within the soft drink ind ustry. What began as one mans idea in a bar metamorphised into a respectable venture with annual sales of $1.5 billion over a fifteen-year timeframequite impressive for a privately owned company with only one product. Although Red Bull was not a case of pure product innovation, its success was crafted through extremely innovative and canny marketing efforts. Red Bullthe mystical energy drink from Asiawas adapted to the European tastes to make it the perfect drink not only for extreme sports enthusiasts, but also night crawlers at bars and clubs. This made Red Bull into a hip drink among young and active crowd of Europe, which pushed Red Bull to become one of the most sought-after drinks. However, Red Bull was careful and did not rush its expansion. It started out small in Austria to create a solid winning marketing formula before expanding into global markets. Many wonder why mighty incumbents like Coca-Cola and Pepsi were so slow to react. Perhaps they were overconfident of their ability to crush a mosquito player like Red Bull. This cost the incumbents a high price. Once they decided to overthrow Innovation Strategy and Entrepreneurship Page 26 of 26 Red Bull, the energy drink market had already branded itself as a Red Bull category. However, Red Bull will face stronger threats in the future as the market matures and incumbents begin to scale up their marketing efforts. We believe it is now time not only to expand Red Bull into more countries, but also to expand its target market as well as horizontally expand into new products. With such re-innovation efforts, Red Bull will be able to enter into a new stage of growth to become a truly global brand and perhaps one day it will become the new Coca Cola .