Red Bull Competitors: Who Is Leading In The Energy Drink Race?

Red Bull, a brand known for stimulating drinks, traces its roots to a local Thai drink, Krating Daeng. So it was love at first taste when Dietrich Mateschitz, a business magnet from Austria, sampled the popular Thai beverage invented by a Thai entrepreneur Chaleo Yoovidhya in 1976. The purpose of the drink was to keep construction and transport workers alert through their heavy shifts.

Ecstatic with the beverage’s quick relief on his disturbing jetlag, Mateschitz requested Yoovidhya to allow him to launch a sister company in Austria. He then set on tweaking the initial formula to international standards before introducing it in the market. Together with Yoovidhya, they co-founded the little-known idea, which later ballooned into some of the most successful ventures on April 1, 1987.

Unknown to most people, Red Bull energy drink is a healthy combination of taurine, Alpine water, caffeine, sugars, Vitamin B, and permitted sugars. The fortune-making company runs as Red Bull GmbH with headquarters in Salzburg, Austria. Currently, the brand value stands at approximately $17.1 billion, making it one of the biggest in Austria. Red Bull boasts of its presence in 171 countries worldwide and employs over 120 000 workers.

Red Bull sponsors dozens of extreme sports events, oftentimes allowing athletes to pursue their passion on a full-time basis. It also owns a variety of teams, most prominently its Formula 1 racing team as well as RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg. These days, the firm is hierarchically separated into a ‘beverage’ and a ‘brand’ division. Its popularity is underlined by the fact that Red Bull is followed by 16 million people on Instagram, far and beyond anyone else in the industry.

The emphasis on the brand has certainly translated into big business. In 2020, Red Bull sold over 7.9 million cans worldwide. That’s a 5.9% increase from sales made in 2019. Part of Red Bull’s continuous success is grounded in the popularity of its brand.

The methodology used to rank Red Bull’s main competitors relies on information from reliable sources. We consider recent statistics on revenue generated, brand presence, manufacturing power, number of personnel, and anything else related. 

This analysis concentrates on Red Bull’s main energy drink competitors worldwide without touching on sports-related events. Other exclusions include indirect competitors like Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Brace yourself as we take you on a knowledgeable ride into Red Bull’s top eight competitors.

1. Monster

Headquarters: Corona, California

Founder(s): Hubert Hansen

Year Founded: 1935

No one knew that a company that filed for bankruptcy in 1988 would hit the ground running later and become one of the world’s most successful beverage companies. Previously known as Hansen’s juice and Soda Company, Monster first opened shop in 1935. Back then, Hubert and his three sons sold juice to film retailers and studios in Southern California. Later on, the company would expand to Hansen’s Juices and then to The Fresh Juice Company of California.

Unfortunately, they would face several financial challenges that prompted them to file for insolvency. Luckily, California Co Packers Corporation saved the day by acquiring the brand and renaming Hansen Natural Company. Then, in 1999, they shifted to a new manufacturing plant in Corona, California. Shortly, shareholders changed the name to Monster Beverage Corporation in 2012 and approved a boost of authorized stock shares from 120 million to 240 million. 

Since then, Monster has been on a steady rise, especially in 2015 when they partnered with Coca Cola which acquired a 16% equity share of the brand. Coca-Cola promoted Monster’s non-energy drinks like Peace Tea and Hubert’s Lemonade as part of the agreement. In return, Monster received Coca-Cola’s energy drinks and pushed them into the market. 

Down the line, Monster has been a huge trademark bully over frivolous disputes. From threats towards an actor who tweeted grasping a Monster can, threats against review sites to a beer company using the name ‘Monster’, the list goes on and on. Despite the hiccups, the brand continues to flourish with an estimated market value of around $46 billion.. 

In fact, one of the company’s signature products generated over $ 3.2 billion in 2021, coming second to Red Bull. Monster offers a wide selection which boils down to soft drinks, energy shakes, Full Throttle, Coffee drinks, Monster Energy Extra Strength, tea-based beverages, and others.

Currently, Monster takes pride in a 23.2% market share, and roughly 8 million followers on Instagram. In addition, they employ more than 3,666 workers globally. Reports indicate that the company sold about 420 million cans in the States in 2019. 

Mainly, Monster promotes its products directly to mass merchandisers, retailers, wholesalers, specialty chains, drug chains, and clubs. Their key clients are full-service distributors in over 100 countries worldwide.

Sources: Monster, Statista

2. Rockstar Energy

Headquarters: Las Vegas, Nevada

Founder(s): Russell Weiner 

Year Founded: 2001

Never in the history of the beverage industry has a product achieved a stunning growth record of 155% in the first five years of operation. Rockstar Energy drink manufactured by Rockstar Inc was founded in 2001 by Russell Weiner. He intended to help athletes who needed a little extra boost to train harder and go farther. The company packaged the drink in 16oz bottles in opposition to the market giant, Red Bull, who charged a similar price for 8oz content. 

Initially, Coca-Cola managed the distribution section,  but the company shifted its base in 2009 to Pepsico. Thanks to the exposure, Rockstar blossomed to produce various variants and flavors from its humble beginnings. So whether you crave a low-carb or sugar-free version, Rockstar got you sorted. In addition, it led to a broader reach in over 20 countries globally by the end of the year. Popular Rockstar flavors are Juiced Mangi, Recovery Orange, Punched Citrus, Roasted Mocha, Roasted Espresso, Energy Cola, Roasted Latte, and Juiced Pomegranate.

By 2007 Rockstar captured a market share of 14%, with experts listing it among the three best-performing energy drinks in Northern America. In 2010, the company introduced the Rockstar energy gum, currently available in iced mint orange and iced mint flavors. Principal ingredients used to make Rockstar energy drinks include caffeine, sugar, and several herbs like Panax geng, milk thistle extract, ginkgo Biloba, guarana seeds, and others. However, the company reduced the guarana percentage after several adverse claims in the media.

Rockstar targets its audience through events like Taste of Chaos, Winter Warped Tour, and Mayhem Festival. They also sponsor several sports events. PepsiCo acquired Rockstar in March 2020 at $3.85 billion. In 2021, the company generated approximately $918 million, making it to the top ten of energy drink companies by revenue. With 1.1 million followers on Instagram, the future certainly looks bright. 

Sources: Forbes, ifood

3. NOS

Headquarters: Corona, California

Founder(s): Fuze Beverage Company

Year Founded: 2005

NOS unique packaging designed as a nitrous oxide systems tank took the industry by storm. Even after several packaging changes, the nitrous-like bottle remains fresh in the audience’s minds.

The brand name came from Holley Performance Products, a company that produces Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS). It comes as a surprise that NOS energy drinks do not contain nitrogen or nitrous oxide as most people presume. All in all, this is the first consumable product that happens to share a name plus a logo with automotive merchandise. 

In February 2007, Coca-Cola acquired Fuze, a deal valued between $225 to $250 million. By 2015, they took over the NOS energy division, including Monster Beverage and Full Throttle. A couple of years later, Monster Beverage started managing production. Holley Performance now owns the company’s trademark.

NOS Energy Drinks contain high levels of caffeine, guarana, inositol, and taurine. Keep in mind that caffeine level is much higher at 160mg in 16 fl oz cans than in other energy drinks. This unique formula helps increase oxygen and blood flow, giving you tons of energy to help your performance in any activity.

With its great taste and incredible effects, NOS has been a leading brand in the industry. In 2021, the company managed to generate $107 million from their markets scattered across more than  50 countries globally. A year earlier the United State market sold more than $ 16.4 million from 192-ounce cases. 

Sources: NOS

4. Lucozade

Headquarters: Coleford, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

Founder(s): Thomas Beecham

Year Founded: 1927

Lucozade started as Glucozade when Thomas Beecham invented an energy drink from glucose syrup in 1927. The purpose was to offer sick people enough sources of stamina. In 1929, he removed the letter G to create the current name Lucozade. The product became an instant hit with patients and medical facilities.

In 1985, experts realized that Lucozade was also ideal as an everyday drink and not only for recuperation. Thus, they adopted a new slogan, ‘Lucozade replaces lost energy’ from ‘Lucozade aids recovery.’

The year 1985 witnessed another growth as Lucozade introduced the tablet form. Two years later, they invented two new flavors; lemon and orange. Finally, in 1996, the company rebranded the logo and packaging almost a decade later, which spectacularly increased the brand value and UK sales to approximately $75 million. This was triple the number of deals done before rebranding.

Later, they added two more flavors to the package; Wild Berry and Tropical. Suntory, a Japanese company, currently markets the brand to over 15 countries globally. The product lineup consists of Lucozade Sports and Lucozade Energy. Records indicate that approximately 4.9 million people drink Lucozade yearly across the globe. These figures position Lucozade among the best-performing energy drinks worldwide. Over 36,000 people follow the brand on Instagram. 

 Sources:  BBC, Instagram, Statista

5. Burn

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

Founder(s): Tyler Benedict

Year Founded: 2002

Invented in Italy by Tyler Benedict, the brand is now distributed and owned by Coca-Cola. It is also partly owned by Monster Beverage Corporation which manufactures other energy drinks like Relentless and Monster Energy. As mentioned above, the brand later partnered with Coca-Cola in 2012. By 2020, Monster held almost 39% of the US $ 5.7 billion energy drink market share.

Burn quickly penetrated the market due to its 10% to 25% higher caffeine percentage compared to mainstream drinks. In addition, the exceptional packaging and tropical/citrus flavor won accolades from many. Burn also uses a catchy slogan, ‘Fuel your Fire,’ making it easier to penetrate over 80 countries worldwide.With more than 59.3 K instagram followers, Burn has a competitive advantage over  most brands.  

The energy drink contains inositol, caffeine, coloring agents, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, guarana seeds, calcium pantothenate, vitamins, and taurine. In short, the brand maintained its market presence based on grassroots marketing, great taste, and impressive shelf appeal.

Burn’s energy drink is available in its original fruity taste, Apple Kiwi, Zero, Passion Punch, Mocha Energy, Tropical, Berry, Blue, Sour Twist, Lemon Ice, Sugar-Free, and Pineapple. All come in 25cl cans with the same caffeine level.  

Sources: Bevnet, Sibeg

6. Oronamin C

Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia

Founder(s): Otsuka Pharmaceutical

Year Founded: 1965

Oronamin C, launched in 1965, was first approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health as a medicinal drink. Created by Otsuka Pharmaceutical, the company’s goal was to introduce a healthy carbonated drink which instantly ignited the market interest.

Note that the 1960s was the period the world witnessed huge market establishment for medicinal drinks. Otsuka capitalized on the growing trend and invented a delicious and nutritious drink, unlike the sour-tasting options available.

However, it was not an easy journey convincing the Japanese Ministry of Health to approve a carbonated beverage as a medicinal product. The only option left was to remove the carbonation, sacrifice the pleasant taste or mix both.  The result was a carbonated nutritional drink that tasted  better than other options in the market.

Another challenge was in market distribution between food retailers and pharmaceutical companies. Initially, pharmacies sold the drink as Orobine H Ointment to attract a wider audience. Slowly, the sales channels widened to food retailers, hotels, golf courses, railways, and many others. With its famous tagline, ‘Full of Vitality (Genki Hatsuratsu), Oronamin continues to instigate a significant impact on the different calibers of people.

Presently, Otsuka has more than 3,453 Instagram followers and employs 1,100 workers. In 2020, the brand generated a net income of around 148 billion Japanese yen or $1,166,173,400. This was a significant rise from 127 billion yen ($1,000,702,850) in 2019.

Sources: Instagram, Nutraingredients, Otsuka Pharmaceutical 

7. Shenzhen Eastroc Beverage Co. Ltd

Headquarters: Shenzhen, China

Founder(s):  Eastroc Beverage Co. Ltd

Year Founded: 1994

The history of Shenzhen Eastroc Beverage Co. Ltd. is a saga of successes, hardships, and innumerable challenges met with courage, determination, and innovation. Back then, China’s enterprise industry struggled through the formation years. With enhanced technology and infrastructure from the 90s came a new shift in customer’s mentality and behavior.  

Despite all these drawbacks, the company established in 1994 managed to beat the odds to become one of the best beverage manufacturers in China valued at roughly $1,028,147,610 or 6.9 billion Yuan. Worldwide, the total accumulated sales come to approximately $350.12 million. By 2019, the annual Eastroc revenue was 4.21 billion Yuan with energy drinking bringing in the biggest chunk at 95.1%. 

Presently, Shenzhen Eastroc Beverage Co. Ltd boasts 40.60% sales growth from the previous year. The entire workforce consists of approximately 8,120 workers. Some of their most successful drinks include Chen pit drink, Mandarin lemon tea, Dongpeng Shui, and Dongpeng Jiayi. Other alternatives include packaged drinking water, lemon tea Eastroc Plus and Eastroc super drink.

The super drink is one of the best local performing brands competing with prominent drinks like Hi-Tiger. It also takes the third biggest market share after Red Bull and Hi-Tiger with over 200% growth rate. The main ingredients in Eastroc energy drinks are food additives, taurine, citric acid, vitamin PP, caffeine, inositol, yellow lemon, Vitamin B12, and sodium citrate.

 Sources: Barrons, ChemlinkedWSJ Markets

8. Xyience 

Headquarters: Austin, Texas

Founder(s):  Xyience

Year Founded: 2004

XYIENCE, a sports supplement and nutrition company, became operational in 2004. Two years later, they welcomed their first energy beverage, Xenergy. The company created an all-natural drink to help consumers achieve health and fitness goals. In 2016, Big Red Ltd purchased Xyience, which was a great plus in distribution.

Subsequently, XYIENCE has expanded beyond measure with a string of products like Raspberry, Melon Mayhem, and Cherry Lime, Lemonade Pineapple, Raspberry Acai, Lemonade Pineapple, Blu Pomegranate, and Tangerine. There is also an option of non-caffeinated drinks packed with Vitamin B and electrolytes, such as Tropical Punch and Hydration Grape.

Altogether, the company enjoys estimated annual revenue of $ 5 million and over 11.9K Instagram followers. The company has approximately 100 employees.

Sources: CSPNew, Beverage Daily, Instagram, Mitchell Distributing

Red Bull Competitive Advantage

The single biggest competitive advantage that Red Bull possesses is the brand recognition that it has amassed over the past few years. Its more than 16 million followers on Instagram are just one of many supporting factors.

Red Bull attained part of this admiration by being heavily involved in all kinds of sporting events. The brand goes as far as actually owning sports teams. The most notable example is its ownership of its Formula 1 racing team. Title runs like that of Max Verstappen or RB Leipzig’s win of the German DFL Pokal have certainly contributed to its expansion.

Interestingly, some of those teams have gone on to become valuable brands in it of themselves. Its F1 team, in April 2022, signed the highest-ever sponsorship deal with Oracle (worth £74 million per season). Three years before, it had signed the previously highest sponsorship deal with Bybit.

Red Bull has made sure that any sports team it owns is built from the ground up. This ensures consistency across brand messaging and keeps everybody more aligned (since you don’t have to integrate external processes into your company’s workflow).  

One can be assured that some of those successes directly translate into additional sales. This is, furthermore, the same approach companies like Apple and Amazon take with their streaming services.

The assumption is that a basis-point increase in customer goodwill will lead to exponentially increasing sales due to the scale that those businesses operate at. For example, Apple can afford to pay hundreds of millions to create content because a one-percent increase in customer satisfaction will lead to billions of dollars in additional income.

Another indication of Red Bull’s brand strength is the fact that the company is able to charge significantly more for the same amount of liquid.

Additionally, Red Bull still benefits from being one of the first-ever commercialized energy drink manufacturers. Much like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, its relevancy is partially also just a function of time (and sticking around for that long). In many of its markets, it was actually the first energy drink to be sold at scale, which further contributed to its growth.

Nevertheless, the firm has made sure that it stays top of mind. Repeated TV ads, such as its iconic “Red Bull Gives You Wings” commercial, have kept the company at least in the customer’s subconscious.  

Hi folks, Viktor checking in! Years of experience in various tech-related roles have led me to start this blog, which I hope provides you with as much enjoyment to read as I have writing the content.