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Red Bull and Adrenalin Loyalty

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Red Bull and Adrenalin Loyalty
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Friday is known as a get-away day. If schedules permit and the stars align, people think about slipping out the side door of the office in the early afternoon to engage something that tickles their passion.  Running season is in full swing in the warmer states and plenty of folks are thinking about getting a head start on race registration or attending the product expo for their local marathon. If you’re enjoying winter sports, you might just be thinking about getting settled in at the cabin or lodge to make the most of your time on the slopes over the weekend.

Regardless of your preferences, the key point here is that most of us have a passionate pursuit that energizes us during the work week. We think about that passion, watch videos of other people engaging in the activity and converse with others who share the same interests.

Red Bull has staked its loyalty strategy on invoking this passion and fanning its flames to the point of zombie-like following. Their latest effort to stir up interest in action sports, and of course their energy drink product line,  can be found in Launchpad, an online entry point to your Red Bull Bucket List. Visit the site and you’ll be greeted with this invitation:

“YOU WANT TO RACE JET-SKIS ACROSS THE ATLANTIC? OR PULL A MUTE GRAB OVER THE SPHINX?

The instructions are simple: “Get a Big Idea” , “Make and Upload your Video”, “The Public Votes and One Idea Takes Flight”. By the way, if you really want to know what a “Mute Grab” is, check out this video.

If you distill the Red Bull campaign into its marketing foundations, they are building a community of people who share common interests and using a contest motif to drive engagement and participation. Few brands can be as successful with this approach as Red Bull due to the nature of its product. For example, I read recently that Dunkin’ Donuts has been named “Number One in Coffee Customer Loyalty” for the 6th year in a row. Somehow I doubt they could match the blind devotion that some consumers have for Red Bull, much less create the same kind of community for coffee lovers as Red Bull is doing for sports and outdoor enthusiasts.

The fascinating part of the Red Bull story is that the brand goes beyond aspirational and takes on fantasy-like proportions. Consumer interest in energy drinks has grown exponentially over the recent past and convenience store shelves have swollen with products competing for consumer attention. A recent report from Morgan Stanley highlighted the continued strong performance of the energy drink market and noted that Red Bull and RockStar were the two leading brands which outperformed the competition.

It would be difficult to argue that the profile of most Red Bull users and the athletes portrayed as getting their wings from Red Bull on the site are wholly distinct. Office workers seeking to get a fast start in the morning and avoid the 3pm crash down energy drinks throughout the day. Can you agree with me that few of the core user group will probably never base jump off an office building in Manhattan or be towed in to surf a monster wave?

The lesson for loyalty marketers is that there are many paths to brand loyalty. Walmart still puts it pricing and availability out front to effectively create a “loyalty” strategy. Apple is riding its wave of product innovation to keep consumers starry eyed in its direction. And, Zappos leads with service, fueled by its corporate culture, to delight customers.

For Red Bull, loyalty is synonymous with adrenaline. Maybe marketers pushing coffee, clothes, or credit cards will struggle to ignite this level of passion among their customers, but we should never take our eye off the importance of constantly seeking that one spark that will set our brand apart from the competition.

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