“Red Bull”, “Monster”, “Burn” ― these are the trade names of beverage called energy drink. You may have seen them at a convenience store or in a TV commercial these days.
An energy drink is a type of beverage aimed to provide nutrition support to relieve mental and physical exhaustion. They are considered different from conventional nutrition-supplement drinks such as Lipovitan D and Yunker.
Let’s see how they have become so popular in Japan in recent years. We look into the case of Red Bull, the most popular brand in the world.
Austria’s Red Bull GmbH began marketing its product in Japan, first at nightclubs and bars in late 2005 and then at convenience stores in 2006. Upon foraying into the Japanese market, the company couldn’t get its drink licensed as a quasi-pharmaceutical product. So it marketed it as a carbonated drink. Ironically, this worked to its advantage. As a quasi-drug drink, Red Bull couldn’t have penetrated the market already dominated by traditional brands like Lipovitan D and Yunker. But as a carbonated drink, it succeeded in impressing consumers as “a bit fashionable nutritional drink”.
In 2009, Red Bull began offering its product in a 185ml can for 200 yen along with the 250ml can it had earlier marketed. This sent its popularity bursting, with annual sales surging six times from 2008 to 2011.
One of the advertising campaigns Red Bull prioritized was to support sport and other cultural events. It put particular emphasis on extreme sports and motor sports, acting as sponsors in many of those events. Today the company is active not only in sports but also in music, arts and dance.
A free tasting is another unique campaign it has launched. “Red Bull cars” converted from BMW Minis go around the suburbs of Tokyo and stylish campaign girls hand out the drink to passers-by for free.
These aggressive and steady advertising campaigns have made Red Bull popular.
Most energy drinks seem to be taken for different purposes. Unlike the conventional nutritional drinks which are taken “to recover from tiredness”, they are taken “to enhance the mood before study or work”. So consumers’ age bracket is lower. Young people recognize them as fashionable. Adding to the trend is the fact that every brand of energy drink comes in a vividly colored package not seen before.
Like this, energy drinks have various hidden factors for their success other than their taste and effect. If you have never taken them, why don’t you try one?
Written by: Riku Saito