Imagine that you are sitting in the boardroom of a major global drinks company, charged with producing a new product that will rival the position of Coca-Cola as the world’s second-most-popular cold nonalcoholic drink.
How would you respond? The first thing I would say unless I were in a particularly mischievous mood, is something like this: “We need to produce a drink that tastes nicer than Coke, that costs less than Coke, and comes in a really big bottle so people get great value for money.” What I’m fairly sure nobody would say is this: “Hey, let’s try marketing a really expensive drink that comes in a tiny can…and tastes kind of disgusting.” Yet that is exactly what one company did. And by doing so, they launched a soft-drink brand that would indeed go on to be a worthy rival to Coca-Cola. That drink was Red Bull.
When I say that Red Bull “tastes kind of disgusting,” this is not a subjective opinion. No, that was the opinion of a wide cross-section of the public. According to marketing lore, before Red Bull launched outside Thailand, where it had originated, the licensee approached a research agency to see what the international consumer reaction would be to the drink’s taste; the agency, a specialist in researching the flavoring of carbonated drinks, had never seen a worse reaction to any proposed new product.
Normally in consumer trials of new drinks, unenthusiastic