In case you haven’t noticed lately, which would be hard to do, Celsius has skyrocketed in popularity in the energy drink world.
While Red Bull and Monster still carry around 70% of the volume in the category, Celsius Holdings, which was founded in April 2004, got a huge boost thanks to $550 million investment from PepsiCo in August 2022.
Not only has the investment helped the energy drink maker further distribute into wholesale and independent stores resulting in nearly 10% market share, but it also fueled the company’s recent foray into sports.
“It’s been really great to see the brand expand,” said Celsius CEO John Fieldly. “It goes back to the core DNA of Celsius, providing that essential energy for life to help you achieve your goals, and perfectly aligns with today’s health-conscious consumer in the sports world.
“It is a big vertical for us and we will continue to build on it. We’ve made big inroads into new areas this year and look forward to extending that into 2024 and beyond.”
Known primarily in the fitness community as the self-proclaimed “better-for-you” energy drink, Celsius, its value has grown from $280 million when Fieldly was named CEO in April 2018 to $13.4 billion today according to for GQ, is now visible through a seemingly endless list of sports properties.
The brand has partnerships across Formula 1, Major League Soccer, Professional Fighters League, P1 Offshore Boat Racing, Pickleball and Downhill Skiing. Celsius is the energy drink of choice for Jake Paul, Dustin Poirier and Shaun White, while it was the sponsor of Inter Miami FC and Scuderia Ferrari. Florida-based Celsius has also had activations with the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat and Florida Panthers.
“We’re kind of getting our feet wet in professional sports,” Fieldly said. “I think there’s more opportunity to build on that. We get a lot of interest from many athletes who contact us.”
The brand does not only extend to professional sports. In August Celsius announced partnering with intercollegiate athletics marketing firm Learfield to deepen its footprint on college campuses across college football and men’s and women’s basketball involving four new schools: the University of Oregon, the University of Colorado Boulder, the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Washington.
Celsius boasts a NIL roster highlighted by Bo Nix (Oregon), Blake Corum (Michigan) and Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) while it looks to expand further into NCAA men’s and women’s basketball.
With the 18-24 demo targeted, Fieldly said Celsius is looking at different sports verticals that align with the brand’s overall strategy, which is fueled by increased distribution through the PepsiCo investment.
Not surprisingly, soccer checks many of those boxes. Before signing his first league-wide contract with MLS in August, Celsius sealed a multi-year partnership with FC Inter Miami FC in February, months before the arrival of eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. Since then, the team has been involved Chicago Fire FC and New York City FC.
“We really like the MLS partnership because the World Cup is coming to the US so there’s going to be a lot of build-up leading up to that over the next two years and we really want to be involved in that and that journey,” Fieldly said. “We thought this league sponsorship with MLS provides that access that we wouldn’t otherwise have with authenticity with the World Cup coming to North America.”
With a market dominated by Red Bull and Monster, established brands such as Rockstar, the newly minted Prime as the sports and energy drink of choice for teenagers, ZOA, GOAT Fuel and Woooooo backed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jerry Rice and Ric Flair respectively , along with Gatorade and BodyArmor introducing caffeinated products, the energy drink market couldn’t be more competitive.
But Fieldly believes Celsius’ unique blend of essential energy and key vitamins, the investment in PepsiCo and the brand’s growing presence in sports will be a recipe for success.
“When you look at the competitiveness of the energy drink category, it’s extremely competitive and it’s really difficult to be able to achieve scale,” he said. “In the last decade, there was no brand that reached 10% share in the energy drink category except Celsius, which did just that.
“Authenticity is really key for our partners and fans to enjoy the product as much as we do.”