Gymshark on growing fast, teething problems and brand loyalty
It’s no secret that sportswear brand Gymshark has grown faster than anyone could have predicted. Least of all 26-year-old Ben Francis, who set up the brand from his garage at the age of 19 years old.
For context, in 2018, Gymshark reportedly generated $128 million in annual sales, became one of the fastest growing companies in the world and reached over 3 million online followers.
Though there is much speculation about where, what or who it owes its success to, what is clear is that Gymshark has carved out a niche for itself on YouTube. We caught up with Elfried Samba, Head of Digital Community, to find out more about Gymshark’s refreshingly transparent approach to marketing.
WHAT WAS THE INITIAL PURPOSE FOR GYMSHARK USING YOUTUBE?
At first, we merely wanted to work with influencers that we loved and felt would be awesome brand ambassadors. The fact that our core audience spent the majority of their time on the platform further supported the time and energy spent trying to grow our presence on the platform. You could say we stumbled onto ‘Influencer marketing’ before it became the norm.
HOW HAS YOUR USE OF THE PLATFORM CHANGED AND DEVELOPED SINCE GYMSHARK LAUNCHED?
Initially, we were more heavily reliant on content from our athletes and brand representatives from an organic exposure perspective while our channel focused more on brand campaigns and storytelling content. We are now want to add more value-based and topical content to ensure that we don’t only diversify our approach but also encourage viewers to keep subscribing.
GYMSHARK IS SO TRANSPARENT ON YOUTUBE ABOUT THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF IT’S FAST GROWTH, WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE?
YouTube is all about relatability and authenticity. Although the ability to showcase our brand campaigns has been advantageous, nothing beats the connection created when you let your supporters see what happens behind the scenes. Giving fans a greater insight into our brand, athletes and the incredible people that make this all possible has helped us not only better resonate with our viewers but also build trust.
Rapid growth is fantastic from a KPI perspective, however ensuring that the community experience doesn’t suffer along the way is an ever-evolving process.
Getting great views and engagement is not enough, we want to ensure that we respond to as many fan interactions as quickly as possible. The feedback we receive help shape future concepts and approaches while making our subscribers feel part of the journey.
LOOKING BACK, WOULD YOU HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY?
Initially, we were obsessed with perfection, particularly from a production perspective. Although this ensures high-quality content, it can be crippling in terms of speed, upload frequency and subscriber growth.
The production plays a huge role in the success of Hero content; however, I think that we could have capitalised on Hub and Hygiene content a lot sooner.
HAS SHARING THE GYMSHARK STORY ON YOUTUBE HAD AN EFFECT ON BRAND LOYALTY?
Definitely, Ben’s story is one of the main reasons why we are so fired up to take this as far as possible. It is important to make viewers feel a part of the journey and understand where we have come from to support where we are heading.
MANY GYMSHARK ATHLETES SHARE ‘GYMSHARK HAULS’ WHEN NEW COLLECTIONS LAUNCH – HOW DOES IT FEEL CREATING A BRAND YOUR AMBASSADORS ARE PROUD TO REPRESENT?
Humbling. It is essential to maintain an authentic relationship with our athletes and the fact that they genuinely love the products we offer gets us excited for launch days. Their feedback is always constructive, and we take it on board when creating upcoming releases to ensure that our styles keep improving.
THERE ARENT MANY OTHER BRANDS THAT USE YOUTUBE LIKE GYMSHARK DO, WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE BRAND AND PLATFORM?
It’s all about keeping our community at the core of what we do. Hero content and storytelling will always be the Gymshark way; however, we plan on adding more variety to cater to viewers at all stages of their Gymshark Community lifecycle.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A BRAND STARTING OUT ON YOUTUBE TODAY?
Users are typically on YouTube because they are seeking entertainment, inspiration, motivation or information. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that your content fulfils at least one of those objectives to get the ground running. Starting is only the first step; it is important to stay consistent and keep listening to the comments to ensure that you never lose sight of what your viewers want to see.
Speaking separately to Tomos Grace, YouTube Head of Sport for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, he said: “Fitness is a huge part of YouTube and it’s not surprising that a brand such as Gymshark has become so successful using the platform, working with an exciting network of brand ambassadors to create inspiring and motivational content that their followers regularly look forward to.
It’s this engaged community that Gymshark has created that’s made them into what they are today – the company with the fastest growing international sales in the UK. It’s been fantastic to be a part of their journey and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Gymshark.’