Maintaining overall fitness used to be considered a niche interest. Founded in 2004, Boca Raton, Fla.-based Celsius Holdings Inc. has experienced the impact of the growing demand for health-and-wellness products in the mainstream market. Launched by vitamin entrepreneurs, the CELSIUS brand has gained distribution in new channels and markets as more consumers become interested in maintaining healthy and fit lifestyles.

A dietary supplement drink, CELSIUS boasts several functional benefits including energy and the ability to burn body fat. “CELSIUS was created to become the first drinkable thermogenic, capable of raising your metabolism to burn body fat and calories,” explains Vanessa Walker, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “It was clinically proven to do so and [the results were] printed in six peer-reviewed journals, which makes this brand a breakthrough.”

The product is made with the company’s proprietary MetaPlus formula, which features a group of vitamins, minerals and herbs, like green tea extract, vitamin B, vitamin C and chromium.

“The product includes green tea with epigallocatechin gallate [EGCG], ginger and guarana seed, a combo [that] turns on thermogenesis, the process that boosts your body’s metabolic rate — and the formula was especially designed to provide a smooth boost of energy,” Walker says. “The first university study was conducted in 2005 and focused on the science behind CELSIUS. Additional studies from the University of Oklahoma were conducted over the next five years. All studies were published in six peer-reviewed journals and validate the unique benefits CELSIUS provides to its consumers.”

Growing and changing

CELSIUS has been making strides in its growth, reporting revenue of $22.8 million in 2016, a 32 percent increase from 2015. CELSIUS now has distribution at more than 550 military bases globally, across several channels throughout the United States and in international markets, including Asia, Finland and Singapore. In the United States, CELSIUS is available at The Vitamin Shoppe, 24-Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, 7-Eleven and Sprouts. The product is distributed through various routes to market, according to Walker.

“We are a true hybrid as we are a dietary supplement and sit in the HBC area in major chains as well as online,” she says. “Given the features and benefits CELSIUS’ ‘fitness drink’ delivers, we must expand our distribution to reach consumers who want to live fit, as they are shopping anywhere from online to specialty stores, going well beyond traditional channels with traditional routes to market.”

CELSIUS also is making progress in international markets. In March, the company announced a $15 million strategic investment, which was led by Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures, a private investment arm of Li Ka-Shing. The investor group also included Asian singer/songwriter G.E.M, and zVentures, the strategic investment arm of Razer, a lifestyle brand for gamers, the company says.

“The expansion of our partnership with Horizon Ventures, as well as the backing by several new strategic investors, signifies continued confidence in the CELSIUS brand,” said John Fieldly, Chief Financial Officer and interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Celsius Holdings, in a statement at the time of the announcement. “This will help us continue to grow our brand, expand product distribution and reach new consumers by leveraging their networks.”

The company says that the investments will play a key role in the brand garnering global consumer attention. This is the second investment Horizon Ventures has made in Celsius Holdings.

The March investment follows news from November 2016, in which the company announced expansion in the Asian market through a partnership with Hong Kong-based A.S. Watson Group, an international health and beauty retail group in Asia and Europe, the company says.

As it has grown, the brand also has evolved. At the 2016 National Association of Convenience Stores tradeshow, CELSIUS debuted a brand refresh, which included a new logo and packaging design for its 12-ounce cans.

“The CELSIUS rebrand was a natural step in our evolution,” Walker explains. “The new branding aims to position CELSIUS as the pioneer of fitness drinks and capitalizes on the brand’s unique, proven attributes of both accelerating metabolism and burning body fat while providing a healthy energy boost. CELSIUS is a drink anyone can enjoy with benefits everyone wants.

“… The new branding/packaging has been universally well-received, specifically with people understanding ‘fitness drink,’” she continues. “Consumers have probably always viewed CELSIUS this way, so it’s a natural adoption for them as we finally wrap all the benefits and features together in an easier-to-understand and clearly appetizing package.”

However, this isn’t the only way the brand has evolved. CELSIUS also is rolling out two new brand extensions: one is an all-natural line of CELSIUS and the other is CELSIUS HEAT.

“The natural formulation was a result of consumers who are living a fit lifestyle and taking care of their bodies wanting something that wasn’t sweetened with sucralose,” Walker said.

The new natural lineup is sweetened with a stevia blend, while CELSIUS HEAT boasts 300 mg of caffeine in each 16-ounce can. BI