In a SURFING Magazine web post that speaks with inane brevity to surfer Jamie O’Brien on the topics of his Red Bull sponsorship and consumption habit, someone named “1tubejunkie” left the following comment:
JOB is young and healthy. He’s obviously not too concerned with healthy eating habits. If he was, he has enough pull that he could probably get Red Bull to make a naturally honey sweetened drink. That would be a good thing for RB because they might pull in more healthy eaters who also enjoy an energy drink now and then.
Intriguing notion, surely it’s been tossed around by Red Bull executives. Even were it to be a commercial failure in its own right, some all-natural version of Red Bull seems like a no-brainer in the context of the brand’s greater marketing goals. The act of simply making an all-natural product available would foster some goodwill with moms and whistle-blowers, who are quick to compare caffeine- and preservative-packed energy drinks with the wares of a Marlboro or a Smirnoff. Those naysayers are a major obstacle to penetrating the youth market — much of which has yet to develop a taste for coffee — but to which Red Bull and others are reticent to pitch directly. A report from Beverage Marketing notes that:
Because of some negative perceptions surrounding energy drinks, Red Bull has been mindful of not marketing itself to children and other non-adults, but even so, it is evident the company has made indirect strides to tap into the teen market.
Those strides could be made more aggressive and explicit, and would be far less assailable from a health standpoint, if Red Bull Natural were on shelves nationwide. To illustrate, consider something like Frosted Mini-Wheats, which are now made with 100% whole grain and are therefore — as far as the average American is concerned — the nutritional equal of fresh spinach. It doesn’t take much.
Furthermore, the cachet of a natural product containing recognizable (read: pronounceable) ingredients — particularly among active, upwardly mobile Gen Y consumers who demand more such “real” food — might attract new fans to the Red Bull brand. Coffee, the main competition for caffeine dollars among young working adults and students, has the advantages of antioxidant content and organic/Fair Trade certification, if desired. Red Bull certainly doesn’t, but could at least put up a fight on the health front by placing “Made with raw organic cane sugar” labels on a new green/silver can. I think I would try one.