Once the news of Redbull wholesale spread in Europe, dozens of copycat competitors came on the market. Red Bull’s initial move into the German market was highly successful. After three months of skyrocketing demand, Mateschitz could not get enough aluminum to produce the cans anywhere in Europe, and sales of Red Bull dropped faster than a lead Zeppelin. A competitor named Flying Horse became the market leader. It took Redbull wholesale four years to reclaim the top spot in the German market.
The expansion to England proved to be even more challenging. The British marketing team was unable to use the term “energy drink,” since a pharmaceutical company owned that label. That forced Red Bull to use the term “stimulation” as a tag line to the logo. In two short years, Red Bull’s English operation was $12 million in the red, with only 2 million cans sold. Mateschitz fired the entire staff, pulled the product from pubs, and appointed an Austrian marketing director who concentrated on night clubs and the student market.
In order to reach consumers without spending millions on advertising, Mateschitz resorted to buzz marketing to stimulate sales. He hired students to drive Minis with a big Red Bull can strapped on top. They cruised around campuses and offered free samples at parties.
The rules for creating buzz are astonishingly simple. Marketers need to reach the “alpha bees,” and if they like the product, they will tell other people about it. The authority of one alpha bee can influence the buying habits of hundreds. The student marketing buzz boosted sales, and by the year 2000 Red Bull’s sales in England soared to 200 million cans, which came close to its total of steadily growing sales in Germany.