Gymshark has become one of the world’s most successful and influential fitness apparel online retailers in recent years. In a short space of time it has become internationally renowned and a multi-million-pound e-commerce business that has really cemented its place in history. They now have customers in over 130 countries and are continuing to grow at a rapid pace.
Gymshark’s story is a remarkable one, especially considering that Gymshark only launched in 2012. So what’s the secret to the brand’s success?
You guessed it right – Influencer Marketing. Gymshark is not the first brand to supercharge their growth this decade because of Influencers, and it won’t be the last! Read on to find out more about how Influencers are responsible for Gymshark’s success story…
The Beginnings of Gymshark
Back in 2012, Ben Francis was a student at Aston University in Birmingham. He also worked as a pizza delivery man part-time. He seemed to already have plenty on his plate already – but the teenager was already dreaming of bigger things.
Francis had always fancied himself as an entrepreneur. As a younger teenager, he created a website that sold car license plates. He also set up two fitness tracker apps for iPhones, which helped him to earn around £8,000.
However, from his Birmingham student bedroom, Francis conceived a new business venture. A huge gym-goer, Francis wanted to get into the fitness business himself. He originally looked at selling health supplements. However, he soon realised that profit margins were poor. Instead, he decided to explore the world of fitness clothing. This was a far more profitable business idea. Through determination and self-belief, he used his energy to turn his business dreams into reality. Gymshark – the online sportswear powerhouse was born.
Francis’ initial approach to his business was simplistic. He did not know much about business strategy – but he was logical. He priced his products reasonably, considering the amount he and his friends would be willing to pay. In terms of the product designs themselves, Francis again took a logical approach. He couldn’t find gym clothes he liked on the high street or much that fitted his teenage body. So he simply designed the kind of clothing he did want to wear.
Making the products then became a family affair. His grandmother had long been making her own curtains. So, Francis enlisted her help to learn the craft of sewing. Before long, Francis had a small production line.
Gymshark Took Off
As the brand took off, Francis had to dedicate more and more time and resources to Gymshark.
His brother and a few helpful friends got involved with the sewing, in order to make more products. Then Francis himself found time between lectures and Pizza Hut shifts to tend to the Gymshark business. He would respond to queries between pizza deliveries. Then, at home, he would focus on organising stock. Some days he worked late into the night, updating the website and designing new products.
The work was relentless – but it quickly paid off. Within two years of its establishment, Gymshark had annual revenues of around £250,000. This was enough to convince Francis to quit university and the day job. He committed to his business venture full time.
Francis clearly made the right decision. The business soon went from strength to strength, word spread and more and more customers flocked to the business on a consistent basis. Gymshark became a huge success.
So How did Gymshark Become so Successful?
Now, several years later, Gymshark has more than 1.2 million customers. Francis oversees a team of over 200 employees to support his ever-growing business. The team is based at the brand’s headquarters in Solihull in the south west of England. Amazingly, this is just a stone’s throw away from the brand’s humble beginnings in a Birmingham student bedroom.
Experts in the fitness industry and beyond have long been impressed by Gymshark’s incredible, accelerated rise to success. It has left many wondering how Francis was able to turn a casual project into a multi-million-pound business in just a few short years. After all, Francis was just a student when Gymshark began. He openly admits to having a rudimentary business strategy back then. He just happened to make a few smart decisions early in the brand’s life.
That doesn’t explain how the brand became a major business success story. But something else in Gymshark’s history does… Francis’ understanding of the Influencer marketing industry which would help him become a business pioneer.
Gymshark Turn to Influencers
In its early days, Gymshark already had a lot going for it. A solid business idea, great products, the hardworking Francis and his small team… But Francis knew that something was missing. He had to get the word out about his products.
Francis understood that this was a challenge. Spreading the word about his brand would be time-consuming and expensive. So Francis had to invest his money and resources wisely. He needed a straight-forward method of getting a lot of people to hear about his brand in a short space of time. And, despite his limited business experience, and Influencers still being relatively unknown to many people back then, he knew that Influencer marketing held the answer.
Francis searched social media for the top fitness Influencers. He successfully got many to agree to work with him and his brand. The deal was that Francis would send the Influencers boxes of Gymshark clothing, free of charge. In exchange, many Influencers agreed to broadcast themselves wearing the clothing, showing the products off to their legions of followers.
Francis hoped that this would convince other fitness fanatics to invest in the brand. This was a risky move back then. It would cost Francis to ship so many products off for free. And at that point, few brands had proven that Influencer marketing campaigns were effective. But Francis’ plan totally worked. Gymshark gained huge numbers of new customers following social media endorsements. And before long, sales went through the roof.
Early Gymshark Influencer Marketing Campaigns
YouTube was particularly important for the brand’s early marketing campaigns. Francis established early partnerships with fitness YouTubers Nikki Blackketter and Lex Griffin. These Influencer stars agreed to wear Gymshark products exclusively in their YouTube videos. As Blackketter and Griffin are two of the top fitness YouTubers in the world, this meant that literally millions of fitness fans saw their favourite athletes in Gymshark clothing. This exposed millions of consumers to Gymshark whilst casting the up and coming brand in a cool light.
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I call this pose “I didn’t get my nails done and don’t want you to look at my hands.” #lulz #protips . . Dublin was unforgettable!! 🍀🙏🏼 The positivity & energy of everyone I met was absolutely incredible! Thank y’all so much for coming by!!! This was one for the books. 😻 . 📸: @evndoherty
The Gymshark Athlete Community
With a few successful Influencer partnerships under its belt, Gymshark opted to move onto bigger and better Influencer marketing campaigns. Francis began targeting Influencers on different social media platforms – particularly Instagram. This helped Gymshark to reach new audiences.
This was the beginnings of what the brand calls its ‘Gymshark Athlete Community’. Now, Gymshark is associated with numerous Influencers in the fitness niche. The brand knows that these athletes share their core values and vision. Gymshark wants these athletes representing the brand across the world. The Influencers believe in the Gymshark products and are happy to promote them on a regular basis.
Today, Gymshark has an outreach of over 20 million. The brand also features a number of trusted Influencers on its website.
Ultimately, when it came to marketing, Francis worked out want was working for Gymshark and his consumers – and he stuck to it.
Gymshark’s Top Three Influencer Marketing Tips
Been impressed by Gymshark’s Influencer marketing strategy? Check out these top three Influencer marketing tips. They’re all inspired by Gymshark and Francis’ strategy.
1. Focus on Building a Community of Like-Mindedness
For Gymshark, leveraging the power of Influencers isn’t just about reaching new audiences. It’s about clearly showing consumers what the brand stands for.
As we mentioned earlier, Gymshark carefully selects Influencers who share the brand’s core vision and values. This ensures that the brand is also reaching consumers who hold that same vision, and those same values.
This means that Gymshark is able to use social media to build a network of consumers – a community of like-minded people with common interests and principles. Gymshark sells itself as more than just a fashion line. It’s a lifestyle choice – and something consumers are more likely to invest in and believe in. It also helps Gymshark to stand out from the sea of other fitness brands on the market.
2. Be Innovative with Big Ideas
Alike our team at PMYB, Gymshark is always looking for unique ways to utilise Influencers.
For instance, last year, the brand organized a brand-centred event in Birmingham to connect with their consumers offline.
The event was called ‘We Lift the City’. It featured a pop-up shop so that consumers could purchase products from the latest ranges. But the event also offered the opportunity for customers to meet their favourite fitness Influencers.
In its own right, the event was an exciting way to spread the word about Gymshark, and increase sales. The Influencers brought legions of customers to the pop-up shop.
This strategy shows that Influencer marketing strategies do not have to confine brands to cyberspace. With this strategy, Gymshark used Influencers to do something different. It was a big, ambitious idea – and it paid off.
3. Stay True to your Roots
The final Gymshark-inspired piece of advice is to ‘stick at it’.
Influencers played a huge role in helping Francis to turn Gymshark into the multi-million-pound business. And Gymshark is now showing that they won’t be shying away from their Influencer history any time soon.
Gymshark has similar social media star-studded events planned for the coming months. And they remain committed to their community of fitness fans, as well as the fitness Influencers that tie the community together.
The message? Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. Gymshark know that Influencer marketing campaigns have always worked for their band and their consumers. So they’re committed to sticking with the strategy to help them on their continuing path to success.
Gymshark Leverages TikTok Influencers
More recently, Gymshark made a conscious decision to partner with fitness and lifestyle influencers on the TikTok platform. TikTok has enabled Gymshark to reach a much wider audience.
They collaborated with TikTok creators that had a substantially larger following on TikTok than on Instagram. However, some of the Influencers posted their Gymshark content to their Instagram accounts also.
At the start of the year, Gymshark announced their 66 Days to Change Your life challenge. Customers had to select a personal goal and upload an initial photo. 66 days later on the 8th March, the user had to upload that initial image with an updated photo for a chance to win a year’s supply of Gymshark goods.
- Increase Gymshark’s brand and product awareness
- Promote the “66 Day | Change Your Life” challenge
- Generate user-generated content
- Platform – TikTok
- Influencers – Six influencer accounts in categories spanning health, fitness, lifestyle, and dance.
The Selected Influencers
- Wilking Sisters – 1.1 million fans
- Rybka Twins – 5.2 million fans
- Laurie Elle – 2.5 million fans
- Twin Melody – 6.3 million fans
- Lesotwins – 1.2 million fans
- Antonie Lokhorst – 3.5 million fans
Example TikTok Content
What’s next for Gymshark?
Gymshark’s story is proof that effective marketing isn’t all about years of experience and traditional marketing channels.
To this day, Influencer marketing continues to play a huge role in the day-to-day marketing of Gymshark products. And more and more consumers are joining the Gymshark community as a result.
The brand is, therefore, continuing to go from strength to strength, which is great to see. Next, the company have their sights set on growing the company’s revenue to £300m within the next three years. With their impressive history, we’re backing Francis and the team all the way.
Find out More
Looking to replicate Gymshark’s success? Are you also interested in leveraging Influencers to reach consumers, drive sales and transform your brand? Contact our friendly team here to supercharge your influencer marketing strategy.