Two names have long dominated the energy drink category, but as the space grows rapidly Celsius CEO John Fieldly sees the opportunity to break their hegemony.
By Sylvia Carroll
When John Fieldly took over as CEO of Celsius Holdings in 2018, the thing that most excited and intrigued him was the prospect of doing something nobody had done before, namely, go toe to toe with the two major players in the energy drink category: Red Bull and Monster. “Nobody’s really been able to disrupt them,” Fieldly told CEO Magazine North America in an exclusive interview. “At Celsius we have a unique opportunity to do just that. We have fantastic employees and a great group of people to plan strategies to lay the foundation for an amazing brand.”
Celsius Holdings, Inc., founded in April, 2004, is a global company based in Boca Raton, Florida, with a proprietary, clinically proven formula for its energy drink brand CELSIUS®. The energy drink space is one of the fastest growing categories in the food and beverage industry, in large part because of the sheer stress and busyness of our 21st century lives. Celsius turned in record financial results quarter after quarter despite facing a variety of challenges with shares going up 48.2% in 2021.
None of this would matter if the product were not attractive to consumers. CELSIUS’ Original Line comes in eight delicious sparkling and non-carbonated flavors in sleek 12oz cans and is also available in single-serve powdered packets, while CELSIUS’ Natural Line is available in six refreshing flavors: three sparkling and three non-carbonated. This line is naturally caffeinated and naturally sweetened.
“Celsius has over seven essential vitamins, no crash, no jitters, and it tastes phenomenal,” Fieldly said. “We’ve had six clinical studies published in peer reviewed sports nutrition journals that say our product is one of the few proven functional energy drinks that accelerates metabolism and burns body fat, allowing people to push their performance to the next level. So, it also aligns with people’s health and wellness, which are an increasingly critical part of our daily lives.”
A GROWING BRAND
Celsius gradually went about building its brand in gyms, health clubs, vitamin stores, and GNCs and has since expanded into grocery stores, supermarkets, and drugstores. Yet in the energy drink category, 70% of sales come from convenience stores where the company is just beginning to make headway. Furthermore, Fieldly sees online sales as another key growth opportunity.
“We made over $95 million in revenue in the third quarter of 2021, which was our biggest quarter yet,” Fieldly explained. “We see massive opportunities ahead as we gain a distribution foothold in the convenience store channel. In addition, when you look at where Celsius is sold today, we are outperforming many of the leading brands and are currently the No. 2 energy drink sold on Amazon with over an 18% share of the energy drink category. That really makes us excited about what the future holds.”
Fieldly believes that Celsius’ rise has in large part been down to the culture and mentality the company has instilled in its people where the key message is simple: always be outstanding. To this end, Fieldly has overseen the creation of task forces of cross-functional teams to drive specific tasks throughout the company. “We have to outmaneuver and outexecute, and always have our finger on the pulse in order to maximize every opportunity,” he emphasized.
With Canada another burgeoning market for Celsius and a 10% share of the energy drink category in Sweden, as well as a recent launch on Amazon Europe, Fieldly sees the unique appeal of the company’s product—taste, energy, and health—as eventually going global. “We’re also in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore,” he elaborated. “Wherever you are in the world, health and wellness play a role in every decision we make today, and here at Celsius that’s what makes us excited about the future.”
HELPING THE COMMUNITY
Even amid an incredibly exciting time for the company, Fieldly is a strong believer in using Celsius’ growing brand power for the larger good. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the company was forced to suspend a number of live events it had planned and devoted a significant number of resources to. Faced with this disruption to business, Fieldly and his team decided to take a different tack: aiding frontline workers who were risking their lives to tackle the pandemic.
“We took the resources we were going to spend on live events and created a task force to assist first responders by supplying our product for free,” he explained. “We also transferred resources from other teams to create strategies of going around and helping our first responders who were helping to save lives in hospitals and Covid testing sites, bringing much needed energy to over half a million first responders.”
BEST IN CLASS
Paul Storey joined Celsius from Monster Energy as Senior Vice President of Operations and Fieldly was quick to point out that Storey’s experience in the industry has been a key factor in the company’s ongoing success. Since his appointment, Celsius has expanded their warehouse into a six-four bit model to better serve their customers by reducing lead times and helping drive efficiencies throughout the company’s supply chain. The company also created additional leverage by expanding its copacker network so that its copackers are strategically located close to warehouses.
“Paul has been instrumental in the optimization of our supply chain,” Fieldly explained. “We have a specific task force that meets weekly and tracks our goals within cost per freight and cost per case, as well as working on strategies to optimize that through the expansion of warehouses, systems, and processes. Collaboration is key to driving efficiencies for us, and that is mostly through creating task forces in given departments to get that additional focus. I find that by doing that we also create more collaboration and more of a sense of ownership among our people.”
“Our company is transitioning and transforming to be best in class,” Fieldly said. “Best in class in terms of our sales organization, and best in class in terms of our marketing, operating, and accounting teams. And the most exciting thing is that we’re really just getting started.”