The energy drink sector is unlike many consumer products in that it does not display the typical product lifecycle curve of market introduction, growth, maturity and saturation. (Cravens. D, 2005) Red Bull experienced some degree of market saturation when competitors began to imitate their formula, however their overall sales have still continued to grow.
Using the product life cycle model it would have been assumed that Coca-Cola sales would have fallen as cheaper imitations flood the market, forcing Coca-Cola to lower its prices. Sales have not declined and this is because the brand in the most recognisable trademark in the world and is therefore trusted by consumers who identify with it. As long as Rockstar markets its products in a way that consumers perceive there is more to it than just a generic mixture of ingredients the growth stage can be sustained indefinitely. Rockstars slogan “Party like a Rockstar” and Red Bulls slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” allude to the point that their products are more than just a drink, and this is the power of marketing.
Future trends in market
The energy drink category is a quickly moving market. Because the demographic is relatively narrow in terms of age group, after a number of years the customer base will have shifted, which creates an opportunity to capture a larger market share, given that creative marketing is employed. There is also a growing black and Hispanic teenage population in comparison to white teenagers. These groups also show higher than average consumption, 21% and 27% respectively which is compared with 15% for all adults (Mintel 2008, May) In 2013, just 29% of all whites will be 18-34 years old, compared with 41% of Hispanics and 37% of blacks. In terms of marketing strategy this can be catered to by shifting focus onto the urban and hip hop scenes for sponsorship of events and artists instead of just the rock and heavy metal scenes. Full Throttle, which is owned by Coca Cola company and is the number four brand, recently signed rapper ‘Big Boi’ in an attempt to target the male African American demographic (Walsh 2008)
The recent health consciousness trend has pushed companies to develop healthier varieties. Rockstar has catered for this with varieties such as pomegranate and coconut water being brought to market. For the calorie conscious there are the sugar free and zero carb versions. In this regard Rockstar has used a different strategy to Red Bull who has kept excellent market share with just 2 varieties.
There is certainly a trend towards energy drink alternatives, due largely in part to scepticism and distrust of the high amounts of sugar, caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks. These alternatives include natural smoothies and enhanced water which are set to steal energy drink market share with consumers looking for an energy kick in a health conscious manner. Rockstar attempted to merge the coffee and energy drink consumers by creating a hybrid energy drink ‘Rockstar Roasted’ that contained coffee derivatives.
Market research from Mintel (2008, July) showed 78% of users use the drinks for an energy boost, only 31% use it for taste and 22% for hydration.
Interestingly, the energy drink sector has experienced growth despite the economic depression with 400% increase since 2003 (Mintel 2008, July). It’s likely that the higher working pressures have created more of a demand for energy boosts throughout the day.
Rockstar has attempted to address the female market with the introduction of their new variety, Rockstar Pink, which has fewer calories, comes in different berry flavours, and the can size is slimmer, which differentiates it from the beer can type.
SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method which is useful in evaluating the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable in achieving the company objectives. The internal/external and favourable/unfavourable classification creates a 2x2 matrix which can be broken down into strengths (internal, favourable), weaknesses (internal, unfavourable), opportunities (external, favourable) and threats (external, unfavourable).
- Strong brand awareness in the US and growing international presence, which resonates with the teen and young adult market
- Significant market share (3rd after Red Bull and Monster) in an expanding market
- Large varieties of drink including coffee, juice, diet, shooter types etc. which contrasts particularly with Red Bull who has just two varieties (regular, diet)
- First energy brand to introduce larger can size, thereby cementing a reputation for delivering on its energy kick
- Taken time to build a strong customer base among sub-culture groups such extreme sports and non-mainstream music using grassroots marketing creating brand loyalty (Traditional marketing has tended to ‘turn-off’ and alienate these particular groups)
- Introduction of screw top cans, which extend the beverage life.
- Markets groups are segmented and constantly changing, making them hard to stay in touch with and limiting growth without alienating current consumers
- In the general population there is a lack of brand awareness and cohesive brand image
- Constricted online presence and interactivity resulting in less than satisfactory consumer captivation (ie. the website is subpar)
- Red bulls initial market share, Generation Y, is aging, diminishing their 1st-to-market advantage and creating space for Rockstar market share expansion
- Black/Hispanic young male adult population increasing shifting the market demographics and creating opportunity for market consolidation
- Appropriate utilisation of traditional marketing to expand brand awareness
- Make use of social networks to target young adult market
- Increase online presence and user interactivity, especially in connection with Rockstar sponsored athletes/musicians where brand awareness is particularly cemented in the mind of the consumer
- Increasing consumer health consciousness leading to concern over high sugar and caffeine content, possible government intervention over high caffeine content
- Diversification of caffeinated beverage sector into coffees, smoothies, enhanced bottled water and organic alternatives could threaten consumer reliance on energy drinks
- Increased awareness of energy drinks as a facilitator of antisocial activities (such as late night parties), substance abuse and general ‘slacker’ behaviour
- Possible FDA legislation on taurine and guarana
Brand Development Process
The above model is taken from Red Bull in India (2009) and shows the process of brand development which will take place throughout the year of 2012 to develop a stronger and better defined brand image. The steps take place in a clockwise direction.
The current Rockstar advertising philosophy has worked well resulting in a third place market share. Generally non-traditional advertising has been utilised, such as event and artist/athlete sponsorship that represent the Rockstar philosophy, that being living life to the maximum. This grassroots and viral form of communication with the public resonates strongly with potential customers who tend to be sceptical of traditional marketing, having been saturated with it since a young age. In the survey conducted by Burke, L. et al (2009) each energy drink user commented that they had started drinking their respective brand because of a recommendation from a friend.
The three top brands have used cars to increase brand awareness and distribute samples (Martin Interview 2008) which is an excellent marketing strategy. Providing free samples might prove particularly useful because customer research showed excellent taste test ratings but lacked brand awareness. Often customers said it tasted better than they thought it would. (Burke, L. et al 2009)
Taste tests performed by (Burke, L. et al 2009)) have shown that consumers often mistook Rockstar for Red Bull, primarily because they prefer the taste of Rockstar but associated the preferable taste with the leading brand (Red Bull) not with the 3rd place brand.
Consumer research was conducted by (Burke, L. et al 2009) in which 11 students from Penn State University were questioned on their thoughts and preferences regarding major energy drinks. Monster is the second most popular energy drink, however 3 participants didn’t like the Monster logo, and most didn’t like the taste. From the feedback, what is obvious is Rockstar ranked very well in the taste tests but lacked popularity by the participants either because they had never tried it, or had potentially negative associations with the brand. One participant said it “looked plain” yet said about the taste he/she “really liked it.” 2 participants associated the brand with hip hop artists, although it is unclear if this is a positive association.
In particular, what can be taken from the feedback is that the taste of the product does not play a significant role in purchase decisions. Consumers often rationalize their preferences by taste, saying they had preferred the Red Bull taste but couldn’t identify it or had no strong preference in blind taste tests. It’s obvious that product branding and general associations play the starring role in purchase decisions even when considering the better value for money of Monster and Rockstar drinks (they are twice the size for the same price). What the consumer perceives to be a rational purchase decision is really buying into the lifestyle or image that the brand represents. Of course Red Bull has been by far the most successful at creating a powerful brand image. Dietrich Mateschitz did little to squash rumours that taurine was a mysterious ingredient harvested from Bulls testicles. Its loose association with Thailand where the drink was first produced in a non-carbonated form adds to the general mysterious and exotic picture that advertisers have so cleverly projected onto this simple drink.
The author suggests that the ‘twice the size for the same price’ adage is a moot point and should be discontinued as an advertising tag line. This is largely because the 8oz can is more than enough to provide a boost of energy that the consumer requires especially for females who would generally require less volume. Larger cans are often left unfinished simply because the product is too sweet, which is considered wasteful. In the consumer research carried out by Burke, L. et al (2009) over a 5 hour period no consumers bought more than 1 can at a time. The 16oz cans also visually resemble beer cans, which could account for the lack of female sales, since it would not be considered very ‘classy’ for a woman to drink beer straight from the can, whilst the 8oz cans this is certainly not the case.
Red Bull also dominates the energy drink/alcohol combination market which is significant part of sales although there are no available figures. The term vodka red bull is a common slang for any energy drink/vodka combination which does not necessarily use the expensive energy drink but often a cheaper substitute. Much like the term ‘to photoshop’ does not necessarily include the application of the Adobe Photoshop software, rather to the generic electronic manipulation of digital photos. This is a good thing for Red Bull since it deeply ingrains the paradigm of Red Bull as the energy drink of choice.
Marketing Objectives and Budget
The marketing objectives are to increase distribution outlets, especially convenience stores and petrol stations such as Spar, Londis etc. and BP, Esso, Tesco stores etc by 300% by 2013. By 2014 our objective is to have a 2nd place market share behind Red Bull, which will mean capturing around 17% of the market. In terms of non-quantitative goals the campaign also. Worldwide Rockstar sales in 2008 were $100 million, approximately 10% of this will be used for marketing, so in the UK a budget of $1 million (£620,000) can be utilised.
In the UK, Rockstar will open 2012 with an aggressive marketing campaign aimed to build awareness of the brand and provide an alternative to customers who have to choose between expensive Red Bull and generic knock-offs. A new slogan will be used for the drinks which will be changed from “Party like a Rockstar” to “The Rockstar Elixir”. The purpose of the slogan change is to avoid alienating potential customers such as the female demographic, and others who are not particularly party goers, since a large proportion of energy drink sales come from activities other than partying and is now considered a day through night product. The slogan “The Rockstar Elixir” aims to build a sense of mystery and intrigue given the definition of an elixir is “a magical or medicinal potion.” The idea of an elixir relates strongly with Rockstar founder and CEO Russ Weiner whose parents, Dr. Michael and Janet Weiner were world leading herbalists, having studied Ethnomedicine and Medical Anthropology (Rockstar Energy 2009) .An elixir connotes something more than just the run-of-the-mill energy drink and is appealing to a wider audience.
In the advertising campaign Rockstar will subtly imply that “Rockstar” does not just mean someone who is good at making Rock and Roll music but a more general term for someone who leads an exciting, exhausting lifestyle and hence uses the elixir to be a their best.
Rockstar will sponsor up and coming British artists in the drum and bass, dubstep, electro and urban music scenes such as Mikill Pane and Skrillex. This means providing the artists with Rockstar drinks, clothing and hats that the artists wears whilst at gigs and in the public eye. The artists’ music is promoted through the Rockstar website in the form of music and sports video channels. This approach has been used to great effect in the U.S. but U.K. sponsorship is minimal and hasn’t made the most of demographics which have already been defined by the music industry. For example, the aforementioned music genres generally appeal to primarily males, although females are definitely highly involved, of ages between 16 and 30. (Mintel 2007, March)This is exactly the demographic to which the brand is marketed. By forming relationships with up and coming musicians and producers both parties gain beneficial publicity. Rockstar will also use part of its advertising budget to sponsor music awards such as the annual Drum and Bass awards in Birmingham’s Rainbow Warehouse, thereby creating awareness and handing out samples.
Throughout the marketing campaign Rockstar must remain vigilant to avoid alienating the female demographic, since the branding and name is generally perceived as masculine. There is no data on female consumer market share but it is understood that Red Bull takes larger proportion of the female than the male market, in comparison to Rockstar and Monster which is probably the opposite. When Burke, L. et al (2009) studied consumers at a convenience store for 5 hours seven energy drink purchases were made, 5 of which were male. The two female purchases where of Red Bull. A Rockstar team, consisting of employees who embody the Rockstar lifestyle and demographic will travel to the 20 largest UK universities to hand out free samples and stickers as students make their way to and from campus. The students are instructed to stick the stickers on room windows or their cars to be put in for a chance to win a years’ supply of Rockstar drinks.
Burke, L. et al (2009)
A small amount of mainstream advertising will be used in the print (magazine) medium. For heavy energy drinkers magazines are the most popular advertising portal (FactExpert 2005). Magazines are an excellent medium of communication, Mintel (2005) suggests 72% of consumers pay attention to print advertisements. The consumer is also highly receptive to advertisements which reflect the content of the magazine, having sought it out and bought it. Because Rockstar will only advertise in magazines where its athletes/artists are already well known and influential the acceptance and receptivity will be at a maximum. The artists/athletes already have a degree of value in the eye of the consumer and the advert will transfer this value/admiration onto the brand.
Rockstar will also utilise social networking sites which provides a highly focused marketing demographic, but will stay away from pop-up and banner ads which users find highly annoying. (Mintel. 2005, December) A short 15 second advert will be created for the Rockstar website, and before YoutubeTM videos (related to the Rockstar demographic), i.e. sports and music. It will show a montage consisting of Rockstar sponsored activities, where athletes and musicians bearing the logo perform their given craft. Studies show young males making a transition away from TV towards the internet, and this is true for most of the demographic. They are often technologically aware with busy schedules so they seek out entertainment online, which doesn’t have commercials and can be paused for later viewing. For this reason the advert will be shown primarily online.
The pace of the advert starts slowly. Condensation bellows out of a bulls nose, the camera zooms out revealing a Rockstar bull-rider waiting to be let out, the camera focuses on the cage bolt slowly drawn back ready to release the bull (dimly lit). Scene change to Rockstar sponsored rapper Mikill Pane, wearing a Rockstar hat, entering the stage, an electric crowd waits in anticipation. The scene changes to mixed-martial-artist, Andrei Arlovski, brandishing the Rockstar logo on his shorts, ‘psyching himself up’ for a big fight. As the scenes changes the light level slowly raises, the tension rises, and the pace quickens. The video portrays the athletes/musicians getting ‘in the zone’ and heavily associates this with the logo. At this point still no mention has been made to the drink. Intrigue is built with viewers who are not familiar with the brand, who will ask ‘what is this advertising’, their attention will be heightened. As the pace quickens more athletes/musicians are added to the montage, first in preparation of their craft, as described, and then quick flashes or surfers, BMXers, V8 supercar drivers, Rock and Roll musicians etc. performing at their best, completely engulfed and focused on what they are doing. (Still no mention of the drink.) The individual performances are now coming fast, reaching a crescendo, as the camera pulls back, many individual clips can be seen on the same screen. The camera continues to pull back, as the individual clips morph into bubbles that seem to be rising. As the camera pulls back further, the energy drink can is revealed, it appears to be shaking with a kind of vibrant life energy. The can rocks back and forth, slowly settling down until it is motionless. The Rockstar brand which was visible on the athletes/musicians throughout the montage is clearly visible on the can, along with the new slogan ‘The Rockstar Elixir.’ The video is set to music which emulates the growing pace and energy of the scenes.
One important side note that Rockstar will convey throughout their adverts is that the athletes/musicians are not selling out to the brand. In fact mutually beneficial partnerships are created where the sponsored athletes/musicians can perform genuinely better and produce more because of their sponsorship with Rockstar.
The 2012 marketing campaign has been outlined, and is set to rocket Rockstar to the number 2 position of the British energy drink market. The campaign will utilise a number of grass roots promotions aimed to create brand awareness and momentum this side of the Atlantic, as well as traditional print advertising using a budget of £620,000. Marketing strategy plays the most important role in determining market share, in the rapidly growing energy drink market. It has been shown why the typical product lifecycle doesn’t generally apply to this sector, which can mean excellent profit margins can be obtained indefinitely, as long as consumers perceive they are making a lifestyle choice when they buy the brand. Even consciously, consumers recognise that spending a little extra on the more expensive brands means they get to see their favourite athletes and artists more often and with greater resources for creativity that come from Rockstar sponsorship. Considering the British campaign goes well Rockstar Inc. will look to emulate the success in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.
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