Battle of the Brands: Energy Drinks

By: Madeleine Horrigan

Dear Sodaholics,

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the energy drinks Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar, and you likely have an opinion on them as well. Energy drinks are definitely not for everyone, but those who do enjoy them often have a favourite brand meaning that these energy drinks tend to have cult like followings. These drinks all accomplish a similar goal, but besides differences in taste, what sets these brands apart? Today I am going to compare and contrast three major energy drink brands (Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar), discuss their branding strategies, and comment on their media presence.


Julie talked about Red Bull’s branding in a post earlier this week, so I’m not going to go too in depth about Red Bull’s branding strategy. In 2015, Red Bull held 43% market share in the energy drink market making it the largest energy drink brand in the world. With their Red Bull Gives You Wings tagline, Red Bull is all about shock factor and doing things that seem physically impossible. Red Bull sponsors many extreme sports events, public figures, and even holds its own extreme sport events.

Through their communication channels, they make it clear that they are more than just an energy drink brand, Red Bull is a lifestyle. Unlike the average brand that releases advertisements and sponsors celebrities and events, Red Bull is a content creator. They do not simply promote the beverage itself, but they connect their name to mass production videos and events. Many of Red Bull’s promotional efforts are rather humorous, entertaining, and deliver a wow-factor to viewers. One of their most famous works was when they put Felix Baumgartner (an Austrian “Daredevil”) way up in the stratosphere where he then broke the speed of sound during a free fall reaching an estimated speed of Mach 1.24. The video of this insane stunt can be found here.

Being more than just an energy drink is why Red Bull is the biggest energy drink brand in the world. While Red Bull doesn’t encourage its customers to take part in crazy stunts like the Red Bull Stratos jump, they want drinkers to feel like they can accomplish anything (within reason) through the energy that Red Bull gives them.


Monster comes in second place with 39% market share in the energy drink industry, just a hair behind Red Bull. Similar to Red Bull, Monster is an energy drink brand that sponsors various extreme sports organizations, events and public figures. From Formula 1 drivers to surfing and snowboarding, Monster sponsors the best of the best. Additionally, Monster also sponsors events such as music festivals as well as video gaming events.

Similar to Red Bull, Monster certainly promotes living an extreme life style, but not to the extent that Red Bull does. Red Bull promotes challenging the norm and having the desire to do crazy unthinkable things whereas Monster is a bit tamer. Furthermore, Monster has gained a cult following with fans wearing monster branded clothing and being quite loyal to the brand. However, unlike Red Bull, Monster doesn’t create its own content and define extreme in the way that Red Bull does. They let the athletes and public figures that they sponsor define that for them.

In terms of advertising, Monster energy does not release any/many traditional television or print ads like its competitor Red Bull does. Most of their promotional presence is on their YouTube channel, social media accounts and through the sponsorship of events.


In a distant third place is Rockstar energy which holds 10% market share in energy drinks. Like Red Bull and Monster, a great deal of Rockstar’s promotional efforts are through sponsoring extreme sports events and athletes. Notice a pattern here?

Unlike Red Bull and Monster, Rockstar doesn’t have as much of a sense of community among its customer base. From my own everyday observations, I see far less people wearing Rockstar Energy apparel compared to the amount of people I will see representing Red Bull and Monster. Additionally, Rockstar doesn’t have as strong of a message as its two greatest competitors. Rockstar has affiliations with extreme sports events and public figures, but they are not promoting a Rockstar lifestyle. This could be a contributing factor to the fact that Rockstar trails so far behind in market share.

Another observation that I made while researching these three brands was that Red Bull has very few beverage offerings having only Red Bull original, Sugar Free Red Bull and six (some limited edition) special edition flavours. Next, Monster Energy only has four variations of their energy drink. Finally, there’s Rockstar with a whopping twenty-five variations of their energy drink, and that’s not including their line of alcoholic beverages. It would appear that the narrower the focus on products is, the more successful the brand is as a whole.

Have you ever had an energy drink? If so what’s your favourite brand?



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