History of Red Bull

For my Digital Writing Month challenge, I’ve decided to write a series of posts looking into how Red Bull are not just an energy drinks company, but have in fact become a successful lifestyle brand. To begin the investigation, we’ll start with where it all began – the history of Red Bull.

Krating Daeng Red Bull history

Back in 1982, Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur, became aware of the existence of “tonic drinks” in Japan, such as Lipovitan D, a drink created by Taisho, to get employees to work hard during long nights and into the early hours. Another example is a particular drink in Thailand called Krating Daeng, which in English roughly translated as “Red Bull”.

At the time Mateschitz was the International Marketing Director for a toothpaste company called Blendax and whilst visiting Thailand on business, he discovered that the local drink, Krating Daeng, helped to cure his jet lag. Two years later, after meeting Chaleo Yoovidhya, the creator of the Thailand based energy drink, he co-founded Red Bull and together they planned to make Red Bull a globally recognised brand.

Early taste tests were damming for the company. Most people testing the flavour of the drink said it was “disgusting and created a sticky mouth”. So after 5 years of extensive testing (conducting large amounts of market research and testing more than 200 packaging proposals) planning and developing a unique marketing strategy, Red Bull was finally launched in Austria in 1987. The company enjoyed great success and a steady growth in Austria, allowing them in 1992 to expand to Hungry and Slovenia, eventually moving into bigger territory in the United States.

At the time Red Bull was the first of it’s kind, it wasn’t just a case of launching a new product, but launching a completely new product category. The success of the tonic drinks in the Far East proved there was a demand and a market for the drink and the rest (as they say) is history. We know this much from Red Bull’s success today alone, where it is currently available in 164 countries.

Red Bull today

Red Bull have gone from strength to strength since launching 25 years ago. In all key business areas, from sales and revenues to operating profit, figures show 2011 was the best year in Red Bull’s history. Over 30 billion cans of Red Bull have been consumed since they launched – 4.6 billion alone were consumed in 2011. However, the brands success is not just reflected in sales and amount consumed, but by growth too. Reports show Red Bull currently employ a total of 8,294 people around the world, compared to figures from 2010, which show a staff count of 7,758.

The number of cans consumed in 2011 count as 15% towards their overall sales amount, which is a very interesting figure. Why last year in particular did sales rise so dramatically? What did Red Bull do to become so popular? In fact, what is it about Red Bull in general that makes them so appealing? These are all areas which will be covered in more detail as this study continues over the next coming 30 days.

Today, Red Bull are a company seen everywhere, from their own brand TV ads, to heavy endorsement of adrenaline filled sports, from motor sports and winter sports to bike and skate sports. More recently Red Bull have also become known from their ‘Stratos Jump’ with Felix Baumgartner. But the question is, what does any of this really have to do with Red Bull? How did this all come about? Perhaps nowadays we can work out the relevance between the two, brand endorsement today is not uncommon. It was however, when Red Bull first began to go down that route. So what sparked off the idea and the inspiration for doing so? Why are they so successful at it when others are not? These are other areas which this study aims to explain further.

History of Red Bull images courtesy of:

Motocross and Taurin