Gym Shark’s Use of Social Media

GymShark would be a prime example of a business that was able to scale from zero into a multi million dollar business in the millennial age by focusing primarily on using social media. Ben Francis, the CEO and founder of GymShark understood early on to reach the millennial audience he would need to solely focus on the platforms which occupy their attention. Ben Francis started Gym Shark from his garage and since the beginning of their online presence they promoted and marketed their brand using Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube and they have been successfully driving their sales ever since. One of the strategies they have been using consistently is influencer marketing. Influencer marketing promoted their products using noticeable fitness athletes and bodybuilders in the fitness community. This tactic allows preexisting fans and followers of the athletes to now be aware of the Gym Shark brand. For example, if a bodybuilder with an engagement rate of thirty percent and over wears and promotes apparel from Gym Shark, it’s possible that GymShark’s engagement will also increase and grow its online presence. What GymShark has done successfully is that they not only have quality products but they have built a community filled with engagement, and belonging. Building a community is vital for any brand and GymShark has done that successfully because it creates a sense of belonging which transcends its products. Belonging brings more people together to share inspiration and share fitness values.

At the core of Gym Shark, I think influencer marketing is the key component of the mass growth they have experienced in a short period of time. They were quick enough to understand to capture the online fitness community they needed to find out where the attention of their market demographic lied and that was online social platforms primarily Instagram and Youtube. They had a few athletes who strictly wore Gym Shark apparel and that increased brand awareness because the audience started associating their athletes with the brand interchangeably. Gym Shark was brand that represented dedication, drive, and recognition for one’s efforts of living a healthy lifestyle. They modelled themselves as visionaries which become relatable to people who weren't necessarily into fitness, but into becoming a better version of themselves. Gym Shark later started finding loyal fitness influencers who had a decent following and shared similar views and an athletic lifestyle. Now the interesting impact of this was that this created a community larger than their products and grabbed the interest of people who were just starting out in fitness that wanted to be a part of a community and the only way to satisfy that feeling of belonging was to buy their product. The consumers that did purchase apparel would then go on to sharing images of them modelling the product on their personal Instagram further growing Gym Shark’s brand awareness. This was very successful strategy that through the last few years has become the staple for almost every large business primarily on Instagram. What Gym Shark has been doing consistently right is that most of the content they post on their Instagram promoting their products are very overexposed and distinct to their brand. The photographs they take are very visually appealing and have a nice amount of contrast to highlight their products. Another plus of their Instagram page is that their content is very cohesive and it has a sense of minimalism which I believe is a growing aspect in the taste of what people are looking for in apparel and fashion.

What Gym Shark has done to stack up against other brands like Nike and Adidas is the community they have built around their products. Gym Shark sells directly to the consumers so when there are pop ups there are endless lines of the online community of fitness enthusiasts and supporters of the brand that show up to get a sense of tangible presence of Gym Shark. I think more brands should utilize and and invest more into influencer marketing. The return on influencer marketing is evidently tremendous in the climate of social media and how viral one post can go in a matter of minutes. One thing to be cautious for when hiring personnel to represent a brand, is how the person’s values align with the company. The last thing any company wants is misrepresentation that can damage the value or reputation of a brand. When hiring influencers companies should keep an eye on engagement rate because it plays a vital role in the reach their posts have. An engagement rate of twenty percent or more would be ideal. Other companies should also take steps to incentivize purchases through attractive coupons and discounts along with purchases. They should directly send promotions while customer products are in the cart and a person is contemplating whether to checkout or not. What Gym Shark should also continue doing is that they should constantly push the same products before launch simultaneously by the brand ambassadors to reach as many people as they can to grow sales. Through shares and likes, there is social value that is added. In class we looked at Lukas Sabbat and how poor of an example he is as an influencer when asked to promote SnapChat’s spectacles. The problem he encountered was that there wasn’t a specific market segment that really demanded this product. This product was extension of SnapChat that some people did not even know existed. Lukas’s efforts were very limited and the fact that he has a very low engagement rate despite the mass amounts of followers he had. The lesson to learn from this tragedy is that sometimes companies need to pay more attention to the technical details when contracting an influencer, and they need to acknowledge that the marketing can’t do much if the product does not have any traction or any significant positioning to create demand in the market. SnapChat would’ve been better off spending their money in product development.

Although, there are people who may suggest that Gym Shark should diversify their streams of marketing and not solely focus on social media but understanding the social climate of our time and where majority of our attention lies, it is important to utilize every effort to promote your brand to where people are paying attention. If I were personally starting an apparel brand I would definitely follow the same steps creating something that I would want to wear and leverage other influencers to promote my product globally. I would be selective with brand ambassadors who share similar values and can attribute value to the brand.