Carbonated Energy Drinks Brand Landscape
Maximise performance, maximise experience; the traditional rhetoric used by carbonated drinks in their brand messaging and particularly in approach to sports marketing.
The majority of leading brands position themselves as fuel for overcoming everyday challenges, often for people who live ‘extreme’ lifestyles or simply to inject some excitement into the mundanity of the every day. Elite athlete ambassadors are a useful tool for legitimizing this marketing theme. They achieve superhuman feats making them the perfect ambassadors for products which claim to enhance people’s capacity to perform.
Take Red Bull, market leaders in revenue, social media footprint and sports activation. The brand sponsors athletes from all sectors of sport, going as far as running their own events and owning the branding of sports teams. We see brands engaging in deals that will reach a mass audience and guarantee wide exposure but Red Bull has also endeavoured to connect with smaller groups in more niche sports, for example, by sponsoring Turkish Taekwondo athlete Kübra Dağlı. Red Bull has set the bar high in this industry with creative collaborations alongside traditional sponsorship of individuals.
Athletes are among groups who have explored the effects of caffeine on aspects of performance, including endurance. But the impact of carbonated energy drinks on health is a dubious issue. The UK government proposed a ban on sales to children under 16 in 2018 sparking some retailers to voluntarily do so. Athletes help brands challenge negative perceptions of their product through aligning them with physical success, but it is important for sports rights holders to consider the impact of athletes and sports teams on influencing society. Sponsorships based on shared values make the strongest partnerships.
In contrast, the ‘health and natural’ space is relatively open for drinks and surely a great opportunity for a brand to switch up their tone. Tenzing appear to be doing so in the UK, claiming to ‘elevate the human spirit with energy that is good for mind, body and planet’. This zen couldn’t be further from Monster’s tagline, ‘Unleash the beast’. These brands make use of a range of social media handles that target specific segments of their target market. Moreover, their creative marketing content suggests they know how to be creative to connect with their audience, utilising YouTube in particular.
In relation to the industry’s overall sponsorship activity, women’s sport could, and arguable should be, the next opportunity for carbonated energy drinks to capitalise on. The current momentum behind its coverage and investment not only provides the chance for exposure but also for brands to be seen as getting behind a positive conversation in society. It is time for carbonated drinks to maximise their own performance.
- Key players
- Market positioning
- Sports marketing behaviour
- Notable activity
- Spotlight Red Bull
- Ambassador activation
- Use of social media
- Recommendations for brands
- Recommendations for rights holders
For an example of a full Brand Landscape, see our Sports Apparel and Footwear version.