When people think of the energy drink category, they typically think of Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar. To a broader extent, consumers also consider Nos and Xyience. All of these companies have had to build their brand from the ground up, with very little leverage in the first place. How would the product’s success change if they had some brand equity they could leverage? We encounter such a case with Hard Rock Energy, an energy drink licensed through Hard Rock International – the themed restaurant chain with rock and roll memorabilia – to market energy drinks.
BevWire recently connected with David Drow and Brent Campbell for an interview. David Drow is the Chief Executive Officer and Brent Campbell is the Chief Operational Officer of Enterprise Beverage Group, the licensees for the Hard Rock Energy brand of energy drinks. What initially was “5 Questions” spiraled into many subsequent questions as BevWire wanted to learn more about the business aspects of Hard Rock Energy. The below is the second part of the “5 Questions” interview with David Drow. We will be covering the brand’s marketing tactics, test market results, and David’s views on growth opportunities as well as growth barriers. Click here for last week’s “5 Questions” piece.
BevWire: How successful has Hard Rock Energy been in its test markets of Chicago and Florida? Has there been strong trial and subsequent repeat purchases?
David Drow: It is still too early to tell at this point. Initial sales have done well with limited support. Our first test stores went “live” in early December and have done very well with the product. We have enjoyed 15% share of energy drink sales and have had multiple repeat customers.
BW: For subsequent expansion beyond Chicago and Florida, will cities with Hard Rock branded properties taken precedent over ones that do not have Hard Rock branded properties?
DD: The initial test market was originally Chicago only. It was selected with a couple of key criteria in mind: there was a local Hard Rock presence (this guaranteed brand awareness and would also allow us to utilize those resources in the launch), Chicago has a sizable population base that would allow us to gauge the acceptance of the product, and the population is considered a microcosm of the remainder of the country. South Florida was added to the initial launch as a way to support our Seminole Tribe of Florida partners. And let’s face it…. It’s a lot more pleasant marketing a beverage in the dead of winter in Miami than it is Chicago (no offense Chicago!)
BW: How do you plan on reaching your core demographic target audience (males 18-24)? What type of specific grassroot and social media tactics will you be implementing that caters to this audience?
DD: While this is our core demographic, the category is ever expanding. My direction to my team is “everything social”. All marketing must have some type of social media exposure for each event or promotion. We are focusing on music and music related events. It is not only a good fit for the brand, it plays a major roll in the lives of our key customers. We are developing both a strong social media presence and a robust website at hardrockenergydrink.com.
BW: With regard to “everything social”, does that mean Hard Rock Energy’s marketing tactics differ differently between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social tools?
DD: Our goal is to utilize each social media vehicle to capture certain niches within our target demographics. Hard Rock Energy’s website and mobile sites are our central hub for all main/universal information on our product and brand. The Facebook page is used as the main communicator for large-scale communications. We utilize Twitter for communication to capture current industry trends as well as generate a broader international reach; as we’ve noticed that most of our international audience is on Twitter. Instagram is utilized to gather information on what the current trends are within the industry as far as collateral goes; but is also our “wild card” resource for reaching our audience.
BW: What do you see the top three biggest opportunities toward growing of Hard Rock Energy?
DD: The energy drink category continues to grow, yet there are very few new entries with the power and branding of Hard Rock. There also appears to be some fatigue with the two majors. As such, consumers appear poised to consider alternatives. The levels of interest both domestically and internationally is greater than I ever anticipated.
BW: What do you see the top three biggest challenges toward growing of Hard Rock Energy?
DD: Competitors with unlimited budgets, regulatory intrusion, and growing too fast. We need to ensure support to our partners.
Great insights on this second part of the “5 Questions” with David Drow. You’ll notice it was actually six questions among this great conversation with David. As we touched upon the core demographics and how the company’s marketing plan, it’s definitely an indication that the energy drink is focused on building the lifestyle brand that connects with the consumer both online and offline. Understanding the top barrier to growth of competitors with unlimited budgets ensures that David’s team focuses on delivering success at the most tactical of levels first. And leveraging on the presence of Hard Rock properties certainly helps as a competitive advantage. A great “walk before run” recognition to grow their business. Hopefully we will see this energy drink brand in Canada soon enough.
Thanks again for David’s time, and Brent for arranging this interview!