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The Rise of Gymshark - How it turned into an over £1bn brand

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If you’re at all privy to the “fitness world”, chances are you have heard of the apparel brand, Gymshark. But Gymshark is more than just sweat-wicking apparel. Starting as a humble supplement company and moving into clothing, Gymshark’s strategy will be one studied in business courses for years to come. The brand has recently surpassed a £1 billion valuation after a recent investment from General Atlantic (its first-ever investment round).

The founder, Francis, started by sewing and screen printing logos on gym apparel, making clothing they wanted to wear themselves at the gym. Moving into eCommerce, they found a demand for the products and altered their strategy to accelerate their growth.

Here’s how Gymshark went from grandma’s sewing machine to a £1 billion valuation in less than 10 years:

influencer

1. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has been the backbone of Gymshark’s digital strategy since its early days. Keep in mind, this company launched in the early days of social media influencers, as well. This was the start of GymShark’s athlete community, which would eventually lead to the company’s worldwide recognition.

Influencers not only post about the company on social media on a regular basis but also review products they receive in-kind in exchange for their services. They make Youtube videos about their workouts, head-to-toe in Gymshark apparel, which has lead the brand to achieve a reach of over 20 million.

2. Using social media

Thanks to these influencers taking the brand under their wings from an early age of social media, Gymshark has built a significant following and athlete community on their many social channels.

Using a combination of digital marketing campaigns, famous yearly blackout sales, and an extensive network of influencers and community, Gymshark has an incredible reach that is far beyond that of its competitors.

In addition to its position as a premium workout apparel brand, Gymshark has also become iconic in terms of “athleisure”. Recent years have seen the brand harness influencers offline to attract fans and community members to their pop-up stores in the UK.

Gymshark regularly uses Twitter and Instagram and has its own YouTube channel, to share workout videos, tutorials, and motivation tips with its fan base.

Pretty much since its inception, Gymshark has been paving the way as an inspirational company for influencer marketing. Their growth strategy still only includes a few digital marketing campaigns every now and then, and influencer marketing.

3. Putting the customer first

Gymshark has always taken a customer-forward approach to their business operations. Once, during a website outage on one of their famous Black Friday sales, the founder personally wrote over 2500 apology letters to customers (including discounts) so they could make their purchases later. This is just a single example of their excellent customer service, but if you’ve ever purchased from Gymshark and used their support, you’ll understand the hype.

4. Building a fantastic operations team

We’d be remiss if we didn’t recognise the internal operations team at Gymshark, making everything happen behind the scenes. Gymshark’s headquarters houses over 500 team members where they also boast one of the most amazing employee gyms that is reserved for team members and athlete ambassadors that visit the HQ.

Gymshark focuses on hiring the right people for each role they fill and prioritizes alignment with company values and mission.

5. Professional documentation

Documentation is everything over at Gymshark. They build their company very publicly while sharing updates transparently through their social media channels. Using a combination of video and professional images, the company shows everything from walkthroughs of the headquarters and gym to important company updates.

There are also more topical updates are shared with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other decisions regarding various campaigns and initiatives the company takes on.

Either way, using their channel to transparently build their business is a strategy that resonates with fans, and is a large part of the reason Gymshark has such a large following on social media, to begin with. It’s nice to get an “inside perspective” on the company’s ongoing and operations and makes fans feel special and privilege to be a part of the community.

person working out

6. Product Development and Innovation

Gymshark's success can also be attributed to its relentless pursuit of product innovation. The company is dedicated to creating high-quality, fashionable, and functional gym wear that appeals to a broad range of consumers. By incorporating cutting-edge fabric technology and design elements, Gymshark has managed to differentiate itself from competitors and establish a unique brand identity.

The brand has continuously evolved its product offerings, which now include not only gym wear but also swimwear, outerwear, and accessories. This diversification has allowed Gymshark to cater to a wider audience and expand its market share.

7. Data-driven decision-making

Gymshark's success can also be attributed to its data-driven approach to decision-making. The company collects and analyzes a wealth of data from its online sales, social media engagement, and customer feedback. This information is then used to make informed decisions regarding product development, marketing strategies, and customer service improvements.

By embracing data analytics, Gymshark has been able to better understand its customers and their preferences, which has, in turn, led to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns and product innovations.

8. Emphasis on community building

Gymshark recognizes the importance of building a strong community around its brand. The company has cultivated a loyal fanbase through its various online and offline initiatives, which include hosting fitness events, collaborating with influencers, and creating engaging content on social media platforms.

These efforts have helped create a sense of belonging among Gymshark customers, turning them into brand advocates who are more likely to share their positive experiences with friends and family. This word-of-mouth marketing has been invaluable in driving brand awareness and customer acquisition.

9. Adaptability and resilience

Gymshark's ability to adapt and respond to market changes and challenges has played a crucial role in its rise to prominence. The company has demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, by swiftly pivoting its business model to focus on eCommerce and digital marketing.

This adaptability has allowed Gymshark to not only survive but thrive amid uncertainty, proving that the company is well-positioned to maintain its growth trajectory in the future.

10. Global expansion and localization

Gymshark's £1 billion valuation can also be attributed to its successful global expansion efforts. The company has strategically entered new markets, such as the United States and Australia, by tailoring its approach to cater to local preferences and customs.

Localization efforts include offering region-specific product lines, collaborating with local influencers, and adopting marketing strategies that resonate with each target audience. This global approach has enabled Gymshark to become a recognized brand worldwide, further solidifying its position as a leading player in the fitness and athleisure market.

yoga

11. Sustainability and social responsibility

In recent years, Gymshark has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. The company has introduced eco-friendly product lines, such as its "Adapt" and "Studio" collections, which utilize recycled materials and sustainable production methods.

Additionally, Gymshark has made efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by optimizing its supply chain and adopting more environmentally-friendly packaging solutions. These initiatives not only appeal to increasingly conscious consumers but also help differentiate Gymshark from its competitors.

12. Strategic partnerships and collaborations

Finally, Gymshark's success can be attributed to its strategic partnerships and collaborations. By aligning itself with prominent fitness influencers, athletes, and organizations, Gymshark has been able to tap into new markets and increase its credibility in the fitness industry.

These partnerships have also led to the development of exclusive product lines and collaborative marketing campaigns, further bolstering Gymshark's brand recognition and appeal.

Takeaways

You don’t need a massive marketing budget to grow an internet company in the 21st century. Gymshark has grown exponentially year after year since its inception and has implemented successful digital campaigns through the use of influencers and building a stellar online community. They take care of their staff and only hire the right team members for each open role, and the founder truly believes in transparency of operations.

What we can take away from this is that customer service is the key to success. Whether it’s customer service for consumers purchasing from your brand, or service for the internal team running your operations, by way of providing a state-of-the-art fitness facility and taking care of team members.

Gymshark is more than just a fitness brand. It’s a way of life for many community members. It’s a way to meet like-minded ambassadors across the globe, and it’s a way to learn new techniques, recipes, exercises, and motivations for your own fitness goals.

To become one of the most successful ecommerce brands the world has yet to see, the focus always needs to be on the people and on the product. Creating a superior line of fitness and athleisure apparel is nothing if you do not boast the supporting community both internally and externally.

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