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Case Study: How Red Bull Used Rubbish Bins To Achieve Marketing Success
It’s something that some people crave. It’s something scarce. We can only give so much to someone at one time. And no, it’s not money.
It’s the late 1980’s. You’re getting ready to head out to the club with some friends, but you’re feeling a little low on energy. What better way to put the spring back in your step than with an energy drink?
The only problem: with so many options available, which do you choose?
That was the issue faced by industry giant Red Bull, back during the early stages of their business. Energy drinks were fast becoming the next big trend, but that led to the market becoming saturated with alternatives.
How could Red Bull stand out from the crowd? With a truly unconventional strategy.
Red Bull’s Genius Marketing Solution
Yep, you read that right.
Over the span of a couple of months, the team filled London’s rubbish bins with empty cans of Red Bull. Not only this, but they gave out free samples to DJs and left cans lying around outside of clubs.
The goal: to create the illusion of popularity. By filling the rubbish bins of London with empty Red Bull cans, people would draw the conclusion that Red Bull was THE energy drink of choice.
After all, it was what everyone was drinking…right?
Consumers assumed that Red Bull was popular for a reason, which steadily began to influence purchasing decisions. Nowadays? Red Bull has a 43% global market share* of the energy drinks sector, making it by far the most popular out of its competitors.
Why did this strategy work?
When looking at how this guerrilla marketing strategy worked, we have to understand the concept of attention economics.
In short, attention economics refers to treating consumer attention as a rare commodity. With this in mind, it uses economic theory to solve various problems; namely, how to get a piece of that attention and sway people towards your product or service.
Social proof in marketing is a psychological and social phenomenon that can be boiled down to a very simple phrase: follow the leaders. People see something is popular, so they make moves to follow the trend.
With these two principles in mind, we can see how Red Bull’s guerrilla marketing strategy worked so incredibly well.
- The marketing was clogged with too many energy drink options.
- Red Bull placed empty clans in bins and around clubs to act as ‘social proof’, creating the illusion that everyone else was drinking Red Bull.
- Red Bull was seen as the energy drink of choice…which made it the energy drink of choice as consumers began to purchase it based on its ‘popularity’.
With 92% of consumers** being more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising, it’s easy to see how Red Bull’s strategy was a success.
To quote Matthew Crawford: “Attention is a resource; a person only has so much of it.”
Red Bull saw an opportunity, came up with a strategy no one else was using, and were able to demand the attention of their customers through sheer creativity and knowledge of their market.
Maybe filling bins with your product isn’t the way forward, but there are some solid marketing lessons to be learned for any business:
- Find your unique selling point. Every business has one, even if you’ve never thought about it.
- Identify how people find your product or service. From Google searches, to social media, to word-of-mouth recommendations; know where your audience finds you!
- Don’t just copy the competition. You may not be leaving your product outside of inner-city nightclubs, but you should always be looking to market using what makes your business stand out. It’s a crowded market out there. Your competition is doing one thing…so do something different that’ll grab that all-important attention.
- Be creative – but don’t be afraid to fail. Even the biggest companies have marketing flops, and creativity will always be a risk. If you keep measuring after every success and every failure, learn to interpret the data and refine every one of your marketing strategies, you’ll eventually find what works for your business.
Does all of this sound easy on paper?
Yep – that’s marketing. Even the greatest ideas come with a ton of planning and legwork. Someone had to traipse around London, filling bins with empty cans.
But once you’ve found a marketing strategy that works for you, you’ll know. The data doesn’t lie.
Looking for some inspiration? Take a look at some of our past Marketing case studies!
Looking for that key marketing strat that’ll help your business stand out from the crowd? Send us a message and get chatting to one of our Marketing team.