You don't have to twirl a red cape in front of this bull to get a charge out of it. Red Bull markets its eponymous energy drink around the globe. The nonalcoholic drink contains the amino acid taurine, B-complex vitamins, caffeine, and carbohydrates -- not bull testicles or any other rumored ingredients. Red Bull claims that the human body needs more taurine than it produces naturally during physical exertion -- thus the need for partaking of its beverage. Sales of the drink grew quickly from the beginning and Red Bull now dominates the world's energy-drink market with a 40% market share. Red Bull was founded in 1984 by sports enthusiast Dietrich Mateschitz who reportedly drinks up to 10 cans of it a day.
Sales of energy drinks have grown at double-digit rates in recent years, outpacing cola, the traditional king of the beverage market. As a result, the field has become more crowded and market leaders Red Bull and Monster are feeling the heat. Trailing these two tops brands is the Rockstar energy drink, made by Suntory Holdings' Frucor Beverages unit. Rockstar and sister brand "V" are sold in about 20 countries worldwide. Together, Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar account for about 80% of the market for energy drinks.
The red-hot segment of the energy drink market currently is "energy shots," which is growing at a rate of about 35% annually, compared with 10% for energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. Shots, including 5-hour Energy and a long list of imitators, rang up $1.5 billion in sales in 2010 and make up about 14% of the energy drink market. In 2009, Red Bull got in on the action with the introduction of Red Bull Energy Shots. The product was initially sold only in the US and is being rolled out globally. The energy shot market and energy drinks that contain alcohol have come under scrutiny lately -- with brands such as Four Loko banned in some states due to health concerns -- casting a shadow over the industry.
Red Bull, which makes several variations of its energy drink -- including Red Bull Simply Cola (launched in 2008) -- claims that about 4 billion cans of Red Bull are consumed annually worldwide. Its 2009 turnover was €3.3 billion ($4.4 billion), with increases from the previous year in the Far East (+43%), France (+32%), Brazil (+30%), and Germany (+18%). The company attributed the increases to its cost-management efforts. After entering Norway and Denmark in 2009, the company focused its expansion efforts on Africa, Russia, India, and Japan in 2010. Red Bull employs some 6,900 people in 160 countries.
Mateschitz, who likes to spend his time snowboarding and skateboarding, has extended his reach beyond energy drinks to professional sports. The company owns various sports team around the world, including the New York Red Bulls (soccer) purchased in 2006, the Red Bull Racing Team (NASCAR racing), EC Red Bull Salzburg (ice hockey), the Red Bull Kiteforce Team (kite flying), and Honda Red Bull Racing (2-wheel motocross and supercross racing).
Austrian-born Mateschitz owns 49% of the company; 51% is owned by the family of Thai billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya. – less