eCommerce Success Story: Gymshark

  • We are going to share the eCommerce success story of Gymshark with you, one of the most inspiring you have read in a long time.

  • We all love stories of entrepreneurs who start in a garage, but they are not always quite as they are told.
    Certainly, that is not the case with Gymshark. Its founders can boast of becoming a reference in the sportswear niche, starting from scratch.
    However, and as an example, it is often said that Amazon began in Jeff Bezos's parents' garage. What is not usually mentioned is that Mr. and Mrs. Bezos, in addition to providing the space, invested over $50,000 to fund their son's venture.
  • The Beginnings of Gymshark

  • Let's take a moment to delve into the brand's story, which always helps us better understand its values, growth, and strategy.
    As we said, this eCommerce success story begins in a garage located in a neighborhood in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
    There, two very young students (Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan), decided to invest what they earned from delivering pizzas into a small business that combined their passion for training and an ever-growing interest in the world of e-commerce.
    The product they chose to start their journey was dietary supplements for athletes, and as a business model, they opted for dropshipping. This way, they contained the risk to a minimum while keeping the investment low.
  • INSIGHT: focus on getting to market and testing your niche with the aim of scaling the business model, but there ians no need to be too ambitious at the start. The most sustainable approach is to grow in structure and infrastructure as the business grows.
  • This pair of friends had an enormous understanding of their target audience, their motivations, and their hindrances. In other words: they knew what was in demand. At the same time, they realized that the margins left by their product were not enough to turn that venture into a profitable business.
    They decided to forget about buying products from third parties to resell and went to the other extreme: they became producers. In a very artisanal way, they sewed and labeled gym clothes. In their own words, they created: "the clothes they themselves would want to use for training."
  • INSIGHT: it is as important to have the flexibility to change an unprofitable strategy as it is to have enough market knowledge to know in which direction to do it.
  • Values of Gymshark

  • Like many other companies, behind the brand, there is a manifesto, values that summarize the mission and vision of the company. In this case, there are 5 principles that, in their own words, are always maintained because "if we lose them, we lose everything."
    In their own words, their principles are:
    • Be human. Being accessible, inclusive, and humble is the essence of Gymshark.
    •  Value what matters. This means being aware of the world we live in, caring about those around us, and being proactive in creating positive change.
    •  Do the right thing. Be honest, trustworthy, and authentic.
    •  Find the "Gymshark" way. Refuse to forget the garage mentality that made us grow: ambitious, agile, disruptive.
    •  Prioritize family. Unconditionally.
  • INSIGHT: having such a solid code of conduct will greatly support any decision-making. Additionally, consistency is something that reaches the customer and strengthens your position in the market.
  • Gymshark Today

  • Although the essence of the brand is still present in many things, the truth is that the company has grown exponentially since its foundation in 2012.
    Its line of sportswear is extraordinarily popular; in this long period, its team has grown from 2 people with a sewing machine to 900 workers spread across 5 headquarters (maintaining one in their native Birmingham).
    These workers service the 14 regional eCommerce platforms and the physical stores and pop-ups that open occasionally in Europe and the United States.
    Much of that success lies in remaining faithful to the foundational values and a strategy that combines design, quality, functionality, and personalization. This has led them to have an immense community behind them that counts with 18 million followers across all their networks.
  • INSIGHT: if you find the right idea and product, scale the business progressively without forgetting your strengths and competitive differential advantage. Gymshark did not want to immediately compete with Nike or Adidas; in fact, even now, their target is less generalist.
  • Strategy

  • Primarily an online store, because of their garage origins, they have always shown great interest in working guerilla and digital channels, especially social platforms.
    Something they have done very smartly is to adapt their content to each of them. For example:
    • YouTube: a strong channel for Gymshark where they have emerged as true content creators. Do not expect to find videos about garments; their videos are about workouts, provide advice, or are purely entertaining. The brand is always present, but its prominence is discreet.
    • Instagram: Seven million followers view their photos, videos, and reels every day. Once again, we see influencers, event coverage... but all with that carefully curated aesthetic.
    •  X: On former Twitter is where they let loose with entertaining content, memes, and interactions with their followers.
    •  TikTok: 5.4 million followers consume their short videos; here they blend gags and sketches with inspiring content.
  • INSIGHT: They have always understood that there is a strong lifestyle component in the decision-making process for their products. Therefore, Social Media Marketing not only provides segmentation capabilities but also grants access to profiles with recommendation power and influencers to whom they can connect to amplify their message.
  • As we have seen, their mix of networks is very good, but we can discuss a specific campaign that has been recurring and has become emblematic of the brand.
    If we enter any of their social platforms, we will frequently see the hashtag #Gymshark66. This tag identifies all the members of the community who have joined a healthy challenge.
    As they explain, it takes 66 days to build a habit. Gymshark has created a mobile application that allows users to set up workout, nutrition, or meditation routines, and then monitor and track progress.
  • INSIGHT: An app like this, which adds value, is used daily, and makes the brand perceived as a helper or ally, not just a company solely seeking to sell its product as the sole objective.
  • Keys to Gymshark's Success

    • Adaptability: Their original business idea was not very profitable, but they did not stick to the same concept or give up. They had the ability to reverse the situation.
    •  Customer-centric approach: It is something behind every product and every post. Gymshark is a customer-centric company.
    •  Proximity: They work very well within the community because they themselves are part of that community. This allows them to "fit in" with the lifestyle, make inside jokes, and participate in the day-to-day dynamics of their customers.
    •  Designing products for real needs: This is achieved by starting with a very deep understanding of your niche and target audience. Without a doubt, Gymshark does this.
    •  Coherence: In their discourse, in the production of their articles, in their treatment of employees... everything is faithful to what was proposed from the beginning.
  • What do you think of Gymshark's success story? Have we managed to inspire you for your own business?

Miguel Nicolás

Miguel Nicolás O'Shea is a life-long copywriter (more than 15 years working in agencies) and a specialist in Search Marketing (SEO and PPC). From now on, he will contribute with his online marketing experience to Oleoshop, publishing regularly.

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