5 Things We Can Learn From Gymshark For 2020

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 7 years you've probably heard of Gymshark, or more likely seen the signature, colourful two-piece activewear sets pop up on your Instagram feed.
Gymshark is one of the fastest growing sportswear brands in the world, who, according to The Daily Mail "doubled its annual sales this year and last, taking its turnover from £41million in the year to July 2017 to about £200 million last year".
The brand was started by Ben Francis in 2012 when he was just 19 years old, and has grown from Ben selling from his garage to a global business with 6 million followers and almost 400 staff, according to Linkedin.
The activewear industry is a $290 Billion dollar industry and is expected to have annual growth of 5.1% over the next six years according to Allied Market Research. It is estimated to reach a whopping $500 Billion by 2026. 
Whether you're looking to start an activewear or athleisure brand in 2020, or grow your existing business - no matter what the industry - there are lessons to be learnt from Gymshark's success.
Here's five things we can take from Gymshark in 2020: 
1. They Launched A £5 Million Innovation Hub for Employees
More and more we're hearing about the importance of company culture and benefits of employee giveback schemes. Gymshark is no different but they definitely have taken it up a notch in 2019. 
In August Gymshark unveiled their innovation hub which includes the first Gymshark Lifting Club (GSLC) compromising of a studio and fitness centre.
The innovation hub and gym were created as part of the company's continued industry-leading employee well-being and brand strategy.
According to Leisure Opportunities UK, Gymshark worked in collaboration with design and build company Oktra, who has transformed a 55,000sq ft. former warehouse facility into a complex featuring a large, 20,000sq ft. health club and studio space – designed to be "the best in Europe" – and additional spaces which will help it with its product development.
There are a number of innovative facilities within the gym – including 13 Olympic-grade weight lifting platforms and an outdoor strongman yard space.
Gymshark HQ Gym for their employees to launch successful brand
This is not the first employee benefit scheme Gymshark has implemented. According to Perkbox, the company has been working with them since late 2016 to scale its employee benefits offering to staff. Perkbox has helped Gymshark implement things such as pension plans, bonus schemes and mental health checks.

If companies such as Google, Tesla and now Gymshark have taught us anything about the importance of employee well-being by offering benefits such as competitive salaries, fitness and relaxation centres, free food and more, it's that looking after your employees is the key to running a thriving business.
2. Don't Give It Away - scarcity can help build brand value
Unlike other sportswear brands on the market, Gymshark isn't an e-comm retailer who has regular sales - instead, the brand focuses on having consistently low prices compared to competitors.
The only two times the company discounts products throughout the year are on Cyber Weekend (Black Friday to Cyber Monday) and their birthday.
Consistently every year, Gymshark runs a mammoth Black Friday sale, which sees a huge influx of sales and generates a large brand awareness piece.
This year, Gymshark began their Black Friday sale on the 25th of November at 7PM - four days before Black Friday, and had 70% off selected lines.
The campaign was called 'Blackout' and saw the company focus heavily on Facebook, Instagram and Google advertisements - using an array of varied content each day over the period. The campaign featured models in a white store, wearing bright pops of colour and fighting each other for pieces from the retailer.

Black Friday ecommerce flash sale frenzy for activewear

Black Friday ecommerce flash sale frenzy for activewear male

The success of running minimal sales consistently year-to-year and starting a sale the day before the rest of the retailers on the web, can be seen with the outcome of Gymshark's Black Friday campaign - on the first day of the sale the company sold almost all of the items on their website.
According to Beekeeting, the reason Gymshark consistently sell out during the Blackout sale is because of FOMO - Gymshark took advantage of this psychology phenomena by setting the start of the sale on Monday at 7PM so customers would be worried they'd miss out before the start of the official sale.
3. The Next Generation of Influencer Marketing: From Events to TikTok
From the early onset of Gymshark's beginnings in 2012, Ben Francis understood the power of influencer marketing and was the first to leverage off key fitness influencers to propel his brand into the spotlight. He quickly realised influencers were the key to fusing online and offline, and scaled his in-person events to create a highly engaged community.
It seems Gymshark has evolved with the progression of social networks over the years - humble beginnings saw them sending top fitness influencers boxes of product in exchange for shout outs on their social media channels, and establishing early relationships with YouTube influencers Nikki Blackketter and Lex Griffin
Influencer in Gymshark Activewear sports bra and sports leggings
The company has expanded their social media strategy since then, turning many well-known fitness influencers into their brand ambassadors and engaging with them to post to their community before meet-ups occur. This strategy has been a pinnacle in the growth of the brand and seeing an ROI on influencer marketing.
In 2019, Gymshark identified the rising popularity of social media platform TikTok and dominated the platform before any of their competitors. 
TikTok Social Media Success for Gym Shark
According to Beekeeting, Gymshark's success on TikTok is due to partnering with key fitness influencers with between 1.2 - 6.3 million followers to create high-quality and compelling videos with a length of 15 seconds. The videos featured choreographed movement set to music and went viral on the platform, amplifying brand exposure for the company.
Gymshark has always focused the majority of the marketing efforts on Instagram though, as they see the high potential for sales and have grown a huge following. The company runs three Instagram accounts with a total of over 6 million followers - @gymshark, @gymsharkwomen and @gymsharktrain -  allowing them to create content tailored to specific audiences. This is a strategy which is vital to their success on social and is a learning that many companies can apply to achieving growth and brand awareness on Instagram.

You can read more about influencer marketing here.
4. Focus on back-end operations as much as marketing and product 
While Gymshark are known for their digital marketing efforts and the force and power of their social media influencers, scaling just wouldn't be possible without operations, systems and a nimble infrastructure.  
"With around 2,000 people each day working across four different distribution centres, we're catching up with Blackout orders quicker than ever before", Ben Francis, Founder of Gymshark said on Instagram following the beginning of their Blackout sale, "I can take zero effort for the incredible job the operations and tech teams are doing in terms of getting the orders out so quickly".


According to Internet Retailing, DTC (Direct To Consumer) models have to rely "on understanding that ownership of the total customer experience is more important than the product itself - shipping, returns and incredible response times all become part and parcel of the proposition".
Many startups make the mistake of focusing on sales instead of operations. When they get too big, they suddenly find themselves overwhelmed by the growth. This leads to disgruntled customers, and bad reviews. It's important to keep the brand experience intact while scaling your operations. 

You can read more about scaling your business, here, where we cover the 6 Mistakes to avoid when getting your clothes made.  

  1. Social Media as a customer service platform 

Gymshark is a brand who has consistently been ahead of the curve when it comes to capitalising on market opportunities, and one of the most successful brands to have dominated Instagram - with everything from ads and influencer marketing to customer service.
According to Gymshark chief creative officer Noel Mack, "Instagram is a huge part of our story because of the communities we create, but the challenge is always how to stand out among so many online businesses vying for consumers’ attention".
Not only does the brand create highly engaging content campaigns through the platform, they use it as a way to connect with their customers in real-time. During the Blackout sale this year, throughout the entire week it ran, the company recognised the power of responding to customer queries and complaints instantly through the platform.
Instead of replying with an automated response asking customers to contact their sales team as most large companies do, Gymshark responded publicly with instant, personalised messages to everyone who commented on the Blackout images.
The post announcing the Blackout sale on their page received over 6,000 comments.

Gymshark Social Media Page getting 6000 comments on Instagram for their activewear sportswear black friday sale
With such a powerful combination of digital marketing, employee well-being, strategy around sales, strong back-end operations and customer service it's no wonder Gymshark is one of the fastest growing activewear companies in the world. 
Will your brand be next? Watch this space in 2020. 

Do you have what it takes? To start your activewear brand for 2020 start here.

When you work with Slyletica you'll be able to work with an experienced Brand Manager to find the right sales and marketing strategy for you. Slyletica makes it easy to run and grow your own brand from design and manufacturing through to e-commerce and order fulfilment.

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