Former Red Bull Exec Goes For A "Drive"

Apr 4 2014, 10:57am CDT | by

Former Red Bull Exec Goes For A "Drive"
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

I was originally going to title this post David & Goliath: The Trilogy Concludes or something to that effect. The reason being over the last few weeks I have shared stories with you of smaller brands attempting to take on the much larger, more established brands via various marketing methods.

First came A True David And Goliath: Can A Little Guy Go Toe-To-Toe With The Big Guys? which told the story of basketball shoemaker Ektio and their fight to gain exposure against the Nikes of the world. Then just a few days later came David And Goliath Part II – The Women’s Bracket which, in addition to the nod to the NCAA basketball tournament, told the story of Adore Me, the brand taking on the likes of Victoria’s Secret.

As for today’s article, I decided against using the aforementioned title for the simple reason that this is not truly a David & Goliath tale per se.

No this is about the former COO and EVP of Red Bull, one of the most prolific energy drink companies in the world and his entree into what can be described as the newest niche in the energy drink industry — energy water.

Hardly A Fish Out Of Water

In 2007 Gary Smith left Red Bull and purchased Big Red, Inc., manufacturers of Big Red, America’s #1 selling red soda. After a few years, Gary saw an opportunity to re-enter the energy category with a hybrid product that, if repositioned for today’s energy consumer, could fill a need that more mature and sophisticated consumers were seeking, but couldn’t find within conventional energy drinks

Acquiring “HYDRIVE Energy” in 2013, Gary saw a hybrid beverage with the same caffeine content as the leading energy drink but with only 30 calories, more refreshing flavors and added vitamins and nutrients. Separating itself from the conventional carbonated energy drinks, it only made sense to reposition the brand with a name that reflected the true nature of this unique hybrid offering:  HYDRIVE Energy Water — the first full power energy drink made from spring water.

Much like Ektio and Adore Me, HYDRIVE Energy Water is in an industry that is needless to say, quite full of competition.

I asked Gary how can this brand make a name for itself and what he took from his time at Red Bull that he can use when it comes to HYDRIVE.

Steve Olenski: How can a brand such as HYDRIVE stand out in a very crowded marketplace? How does it differentiate itself from all others?

Gary Smith: Energy is a consumer need that is not going away. In fact, it’s becoming more mainstream as other categories (e.g. juice, gum, beef jerky, etc.) are offering products that include an energy benefit. As we saw in the beverage industry, consumers started migrating away from soft drinks to non-carb, “healthier” options (e.g. water, teas, fruit juices, enhanced waters, etc.) We believe HYDRIVE is very well positioned to capture consumers that will be looking for “healthier” energy beverages. Positioned as an “energy water”, HYDRIVE is differentiated from 16 oz energy drinks that target the “extreme sports” and “younger party-goer” consumers.

HYDRIVE is refreshing, tastes good, provides the same energy as the leading energy drinks, and has only 30 calories per bottle – something that slightly more “sophisticated/professional” consumers are seeking.

Olenski: What lessons/learnings from your days at Red Bull have you applied to HYDRIVE?

Smith: Need to clearly communicate the product’s functional benefits. Consumers want to know that the product will work e.g. “Red Bull gives you wings”. For HYDRIVE, that’s why we prominently displayed caffeine and 30 calories on the front label, and we included a small chart on the back label that educates consumers on the efficacy (same caffeine content as leading energy drinks).

We have a clear vision of who we’re targeting – the more mature/sophisticated consumer vs the extreme, partier that most other energy drink brands target. That’s why our packaging is more upscale, we’re in a PET bottle vs a 16oz can, and we repositioned HYDRIVE as an “energy water”.

Growing the Brand

One of the ways Smith hopes to grow the brand is via corporate sponsorships including one with the Arena Football League. Just a few days ago it was announced that HYDRIVE Energy Water would be the title sponsor of the 2014 HYDRIVE Arena Football Hall of Fame Game which will air on CBS Sports Network..

The brand is also the the title sponsor of the 30-minute Arena Football Hall of Fame television special set to air on the network later this season.

Source: Arena Football

Photo credit: Google Images


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