IPA|ED:final - existing customers

Putting theory into practice: How Relentless can grow by talking to its existing drinkers

…because I believe brands should only invest in marketing
communications through existing users of their brand


Case Study – Relentless

Over the last two weeks Mediation has been outlining why it
thinks brands should only talk to existing customers.  This post takes this theory and applies it to
one particular brand. 

Dual challenges in a growing and competitive sector

Relentless, with its "Give and you shall receive. No
half measures." positioning, was developed by the Coca-Coca Company in
2006 to compete within the highly profitable and expanding energy drinks
market.  The sector has experienced rapid
growth over the last decade and is dominated by Lucozade and Redbull with 50%
and 30% market shares respectively (see note 1).


Competition for consumers is most fierce in the 500ml can
offering, in which Relentless operates. 
In November of 2007 Barr Soft Drinks signed a deal to distribute US
energy drink Rockstar in the UK (see note 2). 
Competition was further ramped up by the US-based Hansen Beverage
Company’s launch of Monster in early 2008 (see note 3).  Relentless faces the dual challenges of
stealing share from market-dominant brands whilst defending its share against
recent newcomers.

For a brand with relatively low penetration in a fast-growing
and competitive sector, the obvious route to growth is to advertise at
potential customers to create awareness and by doing so generate intention to

If however we adopt the principles outlined in this essay,
Relentless should instead focus on the share of market it already has.  It should concentrate on identifying the most
relevant consumer touch points.  It
should then create and deploy at those touch points collateral for its existing

Making it happen (I): Creating collateral

As we identified previously, for a product consumed in the
short-term the four principal touch points are the creation of experiences,
branded retail environments, co-creation, and use of packaging.  Relentless should therefore aim to add value
for existing customers at these touch points.

The opportunity to add value through experiences is in the
creation of exclusive events and secret gigs; experiences that you can only
find out about by signing up to Relentless’ website (see note 4).  At these events Relentless could create
branded retail experiences with pop-up Relentless ‘Recharge Bars’.  Co-creation could take the form of customised
drinks available at the Recharge Bars, developed in association with
mixologists or sports and music artists.

Finally – in keeping with the brand’s ‘No half measures’ positioning
that emerged from the idea that true artists go further and sacrifice more for
their art – Relentless could commission exclusive pack designs by cutting-edge
and emerging artists, collateral that would only be available to existing
customers at events.


Much of this thinking has already been adopted by the
brand.  Relentless has a presence at
action and motor sports events, as well as music events – even hosting its own
‘Wakestock’ event last summer (see note 5). 
But adoption of the principles outlined in this essay would see
Relentless take a crucial step further.

Making it happen (II): Communicating the existence of collateral

It is not enough just to create collateral, Relentless must
communicate the existence of that collateral in broadcast channels to existing
drinkers.  Whilst this could be in the
form of ad space, it would be much more interesting to co-create content that
showcased the events, in the form of a TV show, YouTube channel, or magazine

The desired response from existing customers is “yeah I was
at that gig – it was awesome”.  But
crucially – because of the broadcast nature of the communications – there is an
inherent take out for non-drinkers: “hey that looks awesome – I want me some of

The perceived inefficiencies of broadcast communications are
eliminated.  Every impact is
relevant.  To existing Relentless
drinkers advertising becomes an extension of the brand – a tool to mitigate
defections and engender loyalty. 
Furthermore brand communications become a validation of existing customers’
decision to purchase.  Attitude follows
purchase behaviour; as opposed to (costly)
change-attitude-with-the-hope-of-funnelling-down-purchase-corridor approach.

Relentless is already investing heavily in the creation of a
broad range of collateral.  It next needs
to plan for Transactions – maximising the potential for word of mouth to both
grow share and defend against aggressive entrants into their market.


Relentless metrics

Relentless must measure the results of its efforts by
tracking the four metrics identified previously.

Firstly, development of customer database (through use of
the website in conjunction with panel data); and secondly, analysis of the
database to identify consumer touch points; marrying purchase patterns with
Relentless drinkers’ passion points (gigs, events, bars etc).

Thirdly, fusion of the customer database to a media
consumption survey (such as TGI or Touchpoints); identifying where the
existence of collateral is best broadcast.  Finally, tracking the advocacy and word of
mouth of Relentless drinkers – who are the most likely to grow the brand via
word of mouth and who within the database wield the most influence?


1. The Energy drinks sector has seen +85% per capita growth
between 2002-2007.  Source: Canadean, http://www.canadean.com/

2. Source: http://www.talkingretail.com/products/7094/American-energy-drink-Rockstar.ehtml

3. Source: http://www.brandrepublic.com/Marketing/News/765163/Monster-Energy-plots-war-Cokes-Relentless/

4. Indeed Relentless should start with its approach to its
website.  Rather than being a
business-orientated source of information it should instead be a
customer-orientated hub for existing drinkers. 
Energy drink consumers are generally late teen and twenty-somethings
with an active lifestyle and passion for sports and music – the site should
reflect this.

5. For details of Relentless’ Wakestock visit http://www.wakestock.co.uk/

in Monday's final installment: what talking to existing customers means for the
role of brands, and why we all need to embrace change


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