Leveraging Online Communities: adidas Women x Yoga With Adriene

Courtney Catagnus
5 min readFeb 1, 2018

In an Internet full of trolls and bullies, a 30-something from Austin and her audience have succeeded in building a supportive online wellness network. And it should be no surprise that one of the world’s leading sportswear manufacturers took notice — and took action.

Adriene Mishler for adidas Women. She also wins the Circle Game.

A staggering 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference, and brands are tapping into this power of influence more and more to sell their products.

Most yogis have heard of Yoga With Adriene, the at-home yoga community led by Adriene Mishler (and her super handsome doggo Benji). Since August 2012, YWA has attracted over 3 million subscribers. As her YouTube About page reads, Yoga With Adriene is a free yoga series welcome to all:

WELCOME to the YWA channel! Welcome all levels, all bodies, all genders, all souls! Find a practice that suits your mood or start a journey toward healing. Work up a sweat, or calm and relieve a tired mind and body. Create space. Tone and trim. Cultivate self love. Make time for you. Go deeper, have fun. Connect. Fall off the horse and then get back on. Reconnect. Do your best, be authentic and FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD.

Adriene and her PIC

In the following section, I explore how (1) Adriene Mishler has successfully fostered an online community of devoted yogis and (2) how adidas Women is leveraging her influence to attract and convert new customers.

Adriene’s YouTube channel contains nearly 400 uploads, with videos ranging from full classes, month-long yoga series, recipes, and how-to’s. I would define Adriene’s keys to success by distilling them into the following buckets:

  • Yoga for anyone and everyone: The Yoga With Adriene community has a low barrier to entry. Even the most out of shape person could hold or modify poses to complete your average YWA class. The videos are free*, so the only thing you truly need to participate is a WiFi connection and a mat, blanket, or towel.
    *YWA has a separate membership program for $9.99/mo
  • Consistent, engaging content: Once subscribed, members remain engaged through regular weekly uploads. During a 30-day series, videos are published once a day. If you care to subscribe to the newsletter (or, as Adriene calls it, her love letter), it lands in your inbox every morning to inspire you throughout the series. Aside from 30-day challenges, love letters arrive on Sundays as a motivator for the coming week. Which leads me to my third and final point…
  • An aspirational + authentic brand voice: If YWA is a cult, then Adriene is its goofy, kind, and confident leader. In your typical class, she’ll just as quickly spout off Bone Thugs-N-Harmony lyrics as she will Sanskrit mantras and their meaning, all the while encouraging her community to find what feels good.

These qualities have helped build the Yoga With Adriene YouTube followers into an omni-channel community, both on and offline.

Adriene’s influence in the wellness community caught the attention of adidas Women in 2015, who partnered with Adriene as part of a larger mission to reset their women’s business.

Below are three influencer marketing strategies implemented by adidas Women that successfully leveraged their partnership with Adriene Mishler — tactics that ultimately built brand loyalty and drove awareness around their growing women’s line.

.001 // livestreaming:
Identify key moments authentic to your brand and create a high-quality livestream around it.

  • Using a topical social media moment, adidas x Wanderlust debuted their co-branded FW17 collection via an #InternationalYogaDay livestream led by Adriene.
  • On Facebook, more than 665,000 people tuned into the adidas Women’s channel for the 45-minute yoga class.
  • The livestream strengthened adidas’ ties to the yoga and wellness community by showcasing their commitment to their customers’ healthy lifestyles.
  • Additionally, the livestream promoted adidas Womens’ new line to existing and, thanks to Adriene’s promotion of the livestream, new customers from the YWA community.

.002 // interactive brand activations:
You might be nailing your digital partnership, but sharing a physical space with your influencer and the public builds brand loyalty by creating a memorable moment for your customer.

  • For the first time in SXSW history, adidas connected the health and sports tracks together for a discussion of well-being with leading experts, athletes, and influencers at Future/Fit 2017.
  • Along with a panel of experts who discussed the convergence of technology and fitness, adidas tapped Adriene to lead their Future/Fit workshop and yoga class.
  • Adriene’s workshops and classes were in high demand, and filled up almost immediately (duh!).
  • adidas Women authentically told the #HereToCreate story, all the while reinforcing healthy lifestyles through a physical touchpoint with customers.

.003 // compelling social content:
Back to basics. Live classes and brand activations are swell and all, but make sure the content switch is always turned on and consistently nurtured.

  • Since the partnership began, YWA members might have noticed that Adriene has been decked out in the newest adidas Women’s gear in her video uploads. Adriene continues to aid adidas in converting a captive audience by rocking adidas’ tanks and leggings on screen for her millions of YouTube followers.
  • Using a strategic content cadence, Adriene promotes upcoming adidas-related events to build awareness and drive ticket sales. For example, adidas partners with Wanderlust Festival for their annual yoga retreats. They tap Adriene to lead classes at different locations, and she uses her social channels to activate her YWA audience to participate. Understanding her own need to build brand loyalty, Adriene offers her community exclusive perks by giving away tickets to such events.
  • On Instagram, Adriene casually uses Stories to share her excitement about her new adidas gear as it arrives in her mailbox. If you’re one of the 62% of smartphone users who regularly shops online, this content places us just one click away from purchasing the latest gear from adidas to stay in step with Adriene both on and off the mat.
courtesy of Adriene’s Instagram

Whether you’re looking to build an online community or partner with an influencer to broaden your reach in your industry, the Yoga With Adriene x adidas Women partnership is an excellent case study. Their relationship is symbiotic, authentic, and aspirational. The partnership provides more value to its audience than either brand could provide individually, and that’s the whole point isn’t it? The marketer in me honors the marketer in them, namaste.

Built like Gumby, Courtney has never enjoyed venturing into a yoga class for fear of deep shame and embarrassment. Yoga With Adriene changed all of that. Off the mat, she works with clients on branding and content strategy. Hit her up!

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Courtney Catagnus

music & outdoors. dog mama. digital marketer. denver, colorado.