August 01, 2013
Vemma: Energized by Millennials
by Barbara Seale
- Founded: 2004
- Headquarters: Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Top Executive: Founder and CEO BK Boreyko
- Products: Liquid nutrition beverages, energy drinks, weight-management products
[“Vemma” is an acronym for Vitamins, Essential Minerals, Mangosteen and Aloe.]
Whether you call them millennials, Generation Y, or even Generation Next, every direct selling company wants to attract them—those 80 million young people born between 1980 and 2000. Vemma—a company that’s still a kid itself—has been so successful recruiting them that they have transformed the company.
Vemma has always had solid growth, even during economic slumps. Launched in November 2004, its product line has expanded to include three of the biggest consumer market segments in the United States: the $27 billion dietary supplements industry, the $60 billion weight-loss market and the $12 billion energy drinks market segment—all strong even as stand-alone business lines. But one of these behemoths let Vemma’s growth take off like a rocket when young people discovered the company’s healthy energy drink, Verve®. Their impact was life-changing for the young company, as smart students and recent college grads started their own Vemma businesses to meet demand.
Offered in the majority of the 50 countries where Vemma does business, Verve now represents half of first-time Vemma orders. In 2012, the company’s sales of all products grew 30 percent. The largest growth occurred in the U.S. market, where the number of new business owners grew by a jaw-dropping 85 percent, fueled by the energy of Vemma’s Young People Revolution, or YPR.
In 2012, Vemma’s number of new business owners in the United States, its highest growth market, grew by a jaw-dropping 85 percent, fueled by the energy of Vemma’s Young People Revolution, or YPR.
Their appearance was a bit of serendipity, but once these young people started to show up, Vemma amped up its support with updated branding as well as cool, effective business tools and more magnetic products that kept them coming.
The story actually started at the company’s launch in 2004, when Vemma offered its eponymous product as a liquid antioxidant that made it simple and tasty for people to get their daily vitamins and minerals. The very name “Vemma” is an acronym for Vitamins, Essential Minerals, Mangosteen and Aloe. The company grew steadily, backed by clinical studies that were strongly supported by no less than Dr. Mehmet Oz almost eight years ago.
Healthy Option, Youthful Brand
Then Vemma Founder and CEO BK Boreyko read an article on energy drinks—at the time a $5.2 billion market category that is now expected to explode domestically to $21 billion within four years. Numbers like that are hard for an entrepreneur to ignore. Plus, Boreyko was committed to offering healthy products, and energy drinks are known as cans of concentrated sugar and caffeine. But the opportunity stayed in the back of Boreyko’s mind.
“Two weeks later I was in the shower thinking about it,” he recalls. “The problem is that this market segment has no healthy option. They’re making bad decisions because there’s no good one. I thought, what if we put a full dose of Vemma [Vitamins, Essential Minerals, Mangosteen and Aloe] into a can and made a healthy energy drink?”
Boreyko presented the idea to his Chief Scientific Officer Yibing Wang, M.D., Ph.D., who basically said, no problem. Soon Verve joined the Vemma product family.
|BK Boreyko and Mark Patterson|
Boreyko hoped to attract a younger demographic—the primary consumers of energy drinks. But for a couple of years, Verve was the baby boomers’ energy drink, embraced by Vemma distributors and their boomer customers. Then Boreyko’s new Vice President of Marketing Mark Patterson, recently named Executive Vice President, Marketing and Brand Development, suggested that Vemma should be rebranded to help it appeal to a younger demographic. Initially, the idea took Boreyko by surprise, but the business case for attracting millennials was undeniable. The world’s 80 million millennials outspend the 76 million baby boomers. Plus, millennials are the future direct selling distributors and customers. Boreyko told Patterson to bring him some ideas.
“When you’ve had a product for a couple of years, you’ve invested in all that photography, packaging, websites and so on,” Boreyko explains. “Rebranding is expensive. But when Mark brought me the proposed new Verve can we’re using now, I had to say, that’s hot! He did a great job on the branding, so we launched it.”
In addition to the can, the company shifted the photography, video, music, even the way they talked about Verve. Eventually they even redesigned the Verve Lounge in the US Airways Center—Verve is the official energy drink of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
If You Build It…
Making Mama Proud
For Vemma Founder and CEO BK Boreyko and his sisters, Karen and Lauren, the mission to make a positive difference in the lives of others is both a tribute to and a legacy left by their mother, Dottie Boreyko.
With her husband Ben and their four children, Dottie built a multimillion-dollar network marketing company. Their success allowed Dottie to share her gifts with thousands, while supporting countless charitable organizations and reaching out a helping hand whenever she encountered someone in need. Watching their parents, her children soaked up the direct selling industry, the value of personal development and their dedication to philanthropy.
But despite their success, tragedy struck. In 1994 Dottie was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died within months.
Dottie had taught each of her children that the only thing you actually keep is that which you give away, and true success can be measured by the difference one makes in the lives of others. And, as her son BK tells it, she had a heart for children. So Vemma regularly showed that same heart through its support of philanthropic projects. Then in 2011 he and his sisters honored her by establishing a foundation in her memory, the Dottie Boreyko Foundation.
Through the foundation, Vemma helps improve the lives of children around the world by partnering with three major philanthropic initiatives.
Co-founded by heart surgeon and Emmy Award-winning talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa Oz, HealthCorps serves as a unique research laboratory to explore the complex, underlying causes of the obesity crisis, to discover and communicate solutions and to bring health education to America’s classrooms.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®
This nonprofit organization works to save and improve the lives of children by raising funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals around the world. Vemma supports the hospitals by donating a portion of the proceeds from purchases of Vemma NEXT and collecting cash donations.
Vemma NEXT Helping Now Project
Through this project, the company donates a month’s supply of Vemma NEXT, the company’s nutrition drink for children ages 2–12, to a child in need for each month’s supply sold. By partnering with reputable nonprofit agencies such as Feeding America® food banks, free medical clinics and other agencies serving families, Vemma is able to get good nutrition into the hands of children who need it most, giving them a shot at better health.
Around the same time, established Vemma Brand Partner—what Vemma calls its distributors—Marty W. recruited 21-year-old Alex M., as a favor to his parents. They were hoping the experience would help Alex gain focus. Alex became friends with another distributor, Brad A., now age 27, a top-ranking Pinnacle leader and the son of the company’s top distributors. Brad had been working in the business for a while, but when Verve caught his eye everything went into warp speed. Together, Brad and Alex became Ground Zero for a movement they started calling the Young People Revolution, or YPR. They recruited a handful of other millennial leaders, and the movement transformed Verve into Vemma’s top product and at the same time launched an extreme makeover for the whole company.
“Their leadership skills developed so fast,” Patterson notes. “They weren’t having meetings once a week. These kids were doing it every day, and not just one a day. Sometimes three or four a day. Their mantra is the five M’s: More Meetings Make More Money. And they changed the way a network marketing meeting happened. It became 15 or 20 minutes in a dorm, restaurant or even just on the street. They honed their skills to be able to speak in a short time. They’re true leaders. With the brand changed and these young people getting excited, a culture shift started to happen.”
Verve was such a dominant product that in May its worldwide sales exceeded the combined sales of all Vemma products 18 months ago.
Vemma spotlights the Platinum Club during its Revolution Convention in Las Vegas this year.
The impact of the YPRs is hard to overstate. Led by their energy, Vemma achieved 2012 sales of $117 million and jetted into the Direct Selling News Global 100 at No. 81. In his regular monthly conference call in June, Boreyko congratulated distributors for achieving seven months of record growth in both sales and recruiting. The 26,000 new Brand Partners who joined Vemma in May translated to 230 percent growth in the United States, Vemma’s strongest market, and 186 percent annual growth worldwide. Monthly sales reached an impressive $19.3 million, a year-over-year growth rate of 256 percent. Of that, $7.8 million came from Verve, energized by the wildly successful launch of Verve Bold. Brand Partners and their customers loved it, and they sold 2 million cans of it in the first 100 days, even causing the company to run out of Verve Bold cans. Verve was such a dominant product that in May its worldwide sales exceeded the sales of all Vemma products combined 18 months ago.
But as high-impact as Verve has been, its sibling products also carry clout. Take Vemma Bod•ē, the company’s weight-loss product line, endorsed by celebrity weight-loss coach Chris Powell of TV’s Extreme Weight Loss. Boreyko predicts that the Vemma Bod•ē Transformation products will become a $100 million business on their own and could easily take over the No. 1 sales position from Verve.
What do Vemma Bod•ē and Verve have in common? Two important things. First, both Verve and Bod•ē products are fortified with the exclusive, clinically studied Vemma formula of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytonutrients. Vemma forms the nutritional foundation for all the company’s products.
|BK Boreyko addresses the crowd at the Vemma Revolution Convention in Las Vegas.|
Young People Revolution (YPR) sales leaders (pictured from left) are Brad A., Josh N., Jovana S., Alex M., Brock M., Andrew B. and Noelle R.
And second are its free, award-winning apps: the Vemma mobile business app and Vemma Bod•ē app. While any Vemma Brand Partner could use the mobile business app, it’s clearly inspired by the needs of the YPRs whose businesses are Verve-centric. With the business app, they scroll through their phone contacts and Facebook friend lists. A couple of clicks later, they’re sending a text with a video of a YPR leader briefing their prospect on the Verve concept. When the prospect watches the video, a push notification is sent back to the Brand Partner, letting them know the prospect is watching, and the prospect will be moved into the Brand Partner’s Hotlist. The app turns a cellphone into a portable business office. It allows YPRs to enroll new Brand Partners right from their phone, check their current rank, see their teams’ sales results and view action items needed to qualify for the month. The app even lets Brand Partners offer product samples. When the customer or prospect says yes, the company’s fulfillment center ships it out. Thousands already use the app, which is available in nine languages.
“The challenge that’s plagued me my entire career has been the amount of time that it takes from when a new person says yes to when they actually start talking to prospects,” Boreyko says. “We’ve solved that dilemma with our business app. Young people will download the app and will send out 50 texts in 20 or 30 minutes.”
|Chris and Heidi Powell|
The free Vemma Bod•ē app, available for iPhone or Android, is consumer focused. It helps users by delivering text reminders, suggested recipes, and 84 daily video clips directly from Powell and his wife Heidi. The videos are delivered daily over 12 weeks—the time period of Vemma’s Bod•ē Transformation Plan. Also, the app features six daily “push” notification messages to keep the user on track to reach their weight-loss goals.
The apps are heating up business activity for all Vemma Brand Partners, causing Boreyko to believe that his initial 2013 sales goal of $200 million is too low. With more Verve products set to launch and Vemma Bod•ē attracting more attention every day, sales in June tallied five $1 million-plus days.
An example of Brand Partner enthusiasm is Verve Central. While YPRs hold lots of short, informal meetings in a variety of locations, in some areas, they also hold large gatherings. Boreyko had offered the lobby of a company-owned building to them for meetings. They responded by holding three or four meetings a day there, so Vemma supported them by adding branding and furniture to the area, naming it Verve Central. The idea caught on and Brand Partners across North America who needed larger meeting spaces began opening their own Verve Centrals. Vemma started providing the artwork to support them. One Brand Partner even opened a Verve Central in his home. Multiple YPRs often collaborate on the gatherings, with one bringing products to serve and several speaking. It’s all the result of a company that’s on fire.
“When I look at the Vemma Brand, I only see it getting more popular,” Boreyko predicts. “I see us taking the Verve brand and coming out with new coffee, tea and half-caf products. And Vemma Bod•ē can be a billion-dollar brand on its own. It’s now in 33 markets around the world. We’re one of those rare companies with multibillion-dollar potential.”