How Red Bull Created A Monster Challenger Brand

October 21, 2019 | blog | By Mike Sullivan
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This month, we’re looking at how challenger brands use relentless focus on niche consumer segments to create big success. If you haven’t read our first installment, check out “How Challenger Brand Red Bull Beat Coke and Pepsi.”

There’s no escaping the attention of competitors with the kind of success Red Bull experienced as it built the energy drink segment. Today, Red Bull has company in the category it created, but the threat didn’t come from category leaders Coke or Pepsi. As is so often the case, it seems the many penalties of size have served to constrict an adequate response from the cola giants, leaving room for another inspired challenger.

Red Bull demonstrated that a segment of underserved consumers was willing to pay 300% more for 33% less product. That’s right, at just eight ounces, Red Bull costs three times what you’ll pay for a 12-ounce can of Coke.

The energy drink segment’s economics were alluring enough to draw the attention of yet another cagey challenger brand.

Monster Energy joined Red Bull’s party and quickly identified more open ground. After all, no brand can cover all the open territory in a category, so it stood to reason that another brand could find a foothold in the energy drink segment. While Red Bull focused on extreme sports, Monster dug deeper still, and trained its attention on the original extreme sport; motorsports, and motorcycle racing in particular.

Here again, it was Monster’s relentless focus on an under-appreciated niche consumer segment that won fans and launched the brand to unexpected heights. Unless you’re a motorsports fan, Monster’s success is likely to hit you as something of a mystery because, like Red Bull, the company didn’t rely on the usual advertising channels to achieve any of its success. Instead, Monster turned all of its early marketing energy to the goal of courting Supercross fans, a motorcycle racing series held in stadiums around the country and culminating in a championship.

Taking a page out of Red Bull’s playbook, Monster adopted Supercross fans as their very own and recreated the fan experience from the ground up using its status as the series title sponsor to take the sport to new heights.

Monster connected deeply with Supercross fans by behaving like fans — something that furthered their insight into the customers the brand was trying to attract. Rather than focusing on selling product, the company sought to boost the entertainment value of Supercross events and help grow the sport. Monster accomplished both of those goals and used the experience to expand into more prestigious racing formats. In 2017, Monster became a title sponsor for NASCAR in The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Over the past 20 years, and pretty much under the radar, Monster grew sales north of $3 billion. In the process, it became the best performing stock in the U.S. for 15 consecutive years, with share growth of 60,000%.

From out of nowhere, Monster became a status brand for motorsports fans across all formats, and a brand identity that its customers fully embrace and adopt for themselves.

This success offers a textbook example for marketing challenger brands: Find an underserved segment, apply relentless focus, and think like a fan. In our upcoming third and final installment of this three-part series, we’ll look at the role company culture plays in helping challenger brands stay focused and achieve monster success.

MIKE SULLIVAN is President of LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

For more about LOOMIS, or to discuss how we can help your company succeed, CLICK HERE

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Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency

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