Red Bull has held out for a long time, but has finally decided to launch new energy drink flavors to complement their original, sugar-free, and calorie-free flavors. News from the National Association of Convenience Stores Show broke out that Red Bull will be bringing the three flavors that they had previously launched in Europe into North America. The folks over at BevNet.com got a chance to taste the Red Bull Editions – Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lime flavors – and have posted their thoughts here. These new flavors are expected to fully launch in March 2013, but will be available in limited edition capacity in November/December at 7-Eleven.
While this may seem like a genius move for Red Bull to launch new flavors, does anyone wonder why it took so long? After all, Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy have launched so many new flavors, and have done so for over a few years. The jury is still out on Red Bull’s most recent innovation was the Red Bull Total Zero – a line extension (see post here). And both of their prior innovations are already discontinued (see post here). Despite leveraging the “energy” association, their entry into energy shots was not a success. All this really points to is that Red Bull has a bad track record when it comes to extending itself beyond their core offering and comfort zone – energy drinks.
This flavor launch fits the profile of introducing new products in an arena of familiarity. These Red Bull Editions have existed in Austria and Germany for over a year, so there is a history of success and some sales figures to analyze before launching in North America. Red Bull is sticking with its bread and butter with this launch. Even the flavors that they picked – Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lime – are common and safe to make this a sure-win.
That said, what can Red Bull expect from the North America energy category with this launch? Like the Red Bull Total Zero, the Editions will be shelved with the rest of the Red Bull family in the cooler. And there is limited cooler space despite an unlimited assortment of energy drinks to choose from – for the consumer as well as the retailer buyer. Unlike other energy drink manufacturers , Red Bull has the benefit of secure shelf space. Most coolers will have at least two full shelves of Red Bull for three energy drink flavors so they have the ability to reduce facings for their own products to make room for these new flavors. Of course, the more plausible selling story would be to remove competitive offerings to make room. Simply choose the slowest mover in the category and replace it with the new products. The Editions also stand a greater chance of adding dollars to the category dollars. The European market sales figures hinted that more than half of the purchases were additional items, versus substitution items.
Consumers like trying new products, but they still want to do it within a comfort zone. These Editions should do well given the strong Red Bull brand name. And beyond these three new flavors, there may be other Red Bull flavors that will come out soon enough.