Red Bull ranked No. 1 in L2’s Digital IQ Index for Beverages in 2014, primarily due to its massive online content hub and mastery of social platforms. The brand’s digital dominance extends to China as well, where Red Bull again earns Genius status and takes the top spot in L2’s first Digital IQ Index: Beverages China. Red Bull has exported its practice of populating digital platforms with abundant high-quality content generated from music and sports sponsorships. The brand excels in terms of quantity as well as quality: While a majority of Index beverage brands are active on two to four social media platforms, Red Bull and fellow Genius brand Coca-Cola actively reach Chinese fans across six platforms, providing multiple touch points for regional campaigns.
In January, Red Bull started sponsoring a music education app, “New Band,” featuring pop singer and brand ambassador Yanbin Hu. The app was released in conjunction with a video series on Youku that has generated around 20 million views so far. On messaging app WeChat, Red Bull encourages fans to volunteer their mobile number, allowing them to link their loyalty account. Red Bull is among a handful of companies testing m-commerce with a WeChat Store, and is one of five brands leveraging geolocation on WeChat to help drive fans to nearby points of purchase or events. Red Bull’s mobile site similarly allows users to find local events it sponsors.
Red Bull’s annual “Time’s Up” campaign points to the brand’s digital competence across platforms. In 2014 Red Bull built a dedicated microsite and created campaign accounts on Sina Weibo and WeChat. The campaign solicited user-generated videos of “waking up” friends and leveraged instant messenger QQ and Weishi, the short video app. As a teaser, Red Bull initiated discussion with the hashtag #Are You Super Sleepy# on Sina Weibo, garnering 22.5 million impressions and 26,000 responses. The brand also produced a series of funny videos to inspire fans to make their own. The campaign generated almost 10,000 videos and 3 million shares.
Red Bull looks likely to stay ahead of most Beverage brands in China in terms of digital competence, given the market’s wide gap between a small group of early adopters and a much larger group of digital laggards.