Does Coke Or Pepsi Own The Celsius Energy Drink Brand?

Maybe you didn't hear about the Celsius energy drink brand until the rapper Flo Rida sued it in 2021. A breached endorsement deal fetched the performer an $82.6 million settlement — but this staggering figure was still chump change to Celsius Holdings. Per investment research firm Blue Harbinger, Q2 2023 alone brought Celsius $681 million in cash and cash equivalents, with zero long-term debt. 

The brand has only continued to boom since. According to NielsenIQ Data (via a tweet by Beverage Insights), Celsius enjoyed 140.8% volume growth on a 12.8% average price increase from September to October 2023. By fiscal Q3 2023, Celsius was the third-largest energy drink brand in the U.S., holding 8.6% of the entire market share. So, which parent company is responsible for the domination of this category giant, Coke or Pepsi? The short answer is "Pepsi." The long answer is that Celsius has had a lot of different leaders along the way.

Celsius was already successful by the time PepsiCo stepped onto the scene in August 2022, becoming the primary owner of Celsius Holdings and taking up one of the largest company shares with a $550 million investment. PepsiCo has since become the drink's official domestic and global distribution partner, facilitating its swift expansion. In 2021, Celsius lined the shelves of tens of thousands of stores nationwide – a figure that has since exceeded 150,000 – establishing accounts with Target, Walmart, CVS, Publix, Kroger, 7-Eleven, and more. From 2021 to 2023, Celsius enjoyed brand growth of over 200% thanks to PepsiCo's formidable platform.

Before Pepsi, there was Carl DeSantis

Modern consumers recognize the name Celsius at all thanks to Carl DeSantis, the billionaire who backed the company using the fortune he made from founding Rexall Sundown vitamins. Celsius was founded in 2004 by husband and wife duo Steve and Janice Haley, who were based in DeSantis' hometown of Delray Beach, Florida, and he quickly became Celsius Holdings' primary investor. It was also DeSantis who decided to take Celsius public as a wellness-oriented product.

Despite the high saturation of energy drink brands in the category, Celsius retains its edge over competitors largely because of its health-conscious marketing. From the beginning, Celsius has been branded as a "fitness drink" rather than an energy drink with its mantra "Live Fit." It presents itself as a low-sugar, healthy alternative energy drink that doesn't induce the jitters. The strategy has worked, finding success and strong momentum in a wellness-oriented consumer base between ages 24 and 44, as well as employing gender-neutral marketing, whereas many RTD canned energy drinks are marketed toward a majority male target audience.

Looking forward, Celsius can reasonably be expected to retain its position at the front of the pack. According to a report by Grand View Research, "The global energy drinks market size was valued at USD 86.35 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% from 2022 to 2030," findings which bode well for market growth and continued profitability. As of February 2023, Celsius Holdings had an estimated net worth of $13.53 billion.