HomeBlog for TikTok Industry InsightsInfluencer marketing success storiesHow Gymshark Grew a £100M Business in 7 years with Influencers!

How Gymshark Grew a £100M Business in 7 years with Influencers!

Gymshark grows from influencer marketing

Valued at an astonishing £1 billion, Gymshark has revolutionised the fitness apparel industry! What began as an idea in a Birmingham student bedroom has grown into an international e-commerce titan with a presence in over 130 countries.

But how did founder Ben Francis manage to scale Gymshark into a £1 Billion company?

The answer? Influencer Marketing!

Gymshark, which began its rapid growth on Instagram, and in recent years accelerated its growth by utilising TikTok Influencers using TikTok, YouTube and other social media platforms.

Read on to discover how influencer marketing powered Gymshark’s success and how it continues to shape the company’s future! We will also be breaking down Gymshark’s Marketing Strategy in detail.

So read on!

From Delivery Boy to Entrepreneur: The Origin of Gymshark

In 2012, Ben Francis was an everyday student at Aston University in Birmingham, juggling his studies with a part-time job as a pizza delivery guy. Though his plate was already full (pun intended), Francis nurtured dreams of entrepreneurship. He had already dipped his toes into the business world as a teenager, creating a website selling car licence plates and setting up two fitness tracker apps for iPhones, earning him around £8,000.

But it was in his student bedroom that the big idea took shape. A passionate gym-goer, Francis aimed to enter the fitness industry himself. He initially considered selling health supplements, but the low-profit margins prompted a change of direction towards fitness apparel – a much more lucrative venture. He didn’t possess a formal business strategy, but he had determination, self-belief, and a practical mindset. Thus, Gymshark – the online sportswear sensation – was born.

In pricing his products, Francis used his own willingness to pay as a benchmark. When designing the clothing, he addressed a gap he found in the market; he couldn’t find gym clothes on the high street that suited his style or fit his teenage physique, so he created what he wanted to wear. Production quickly turned into a family enterprise. Francis’ grandmother, a seasoned seamstress, taught him the art of sewing, leading to the establishment of a small production line.

The Accelerated Growth of Gymshark

As Gymshark’s popularity soared, it demanded an increasing share of Francis’ time and resources. He enlisted the help of his brother and friends to scale up production, turning gym wear sewing into a group activity. Balancing his university lectures, Pizza Hut shifts, and the burgeoning business was no small feat. Francis found himself multitasking – answering customer queries between pizza deliveries, organising stock at home, working late into the night updating the website, and designing new products.

The hard work paid off. Within just two years, Gymshark’s annual revenue had climbed to an impressive £250,000. This success convinced Francis to take the leap, leave university, and dedicate himself fully to his flourishing business. It was a gamble that paid off handsomely. Word of Gymshark spread, and customers flocked to the brand, transforming the small business venture into a roaring success.

Gymshark’s TikTok Followers

While the company has a massive following on other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it has realised true growth via TikTok. The growth is not by chance. TikTok, in the last few years, gained fame for its viral videos, challenges, and dance routines. While it is without controversy, the platform has carved out an exciting niche for fitness enthusiasts, as well as many other niches.

It offers spaces where fitness enthusiasts can express themselves, get hot, athletic and at the same time express their personalities. TikTok gives brands, influencers and its users the opportunity to produce creative fitness videos showcasing their fitness abilities, or sense of humour, and share them on TikTok.

The bottom line, TikTok is fan-driven and relies heavily on visually appealing and relatable content, a feature that Gymshark has fully exploited in driving its follower bases on the platform. Ben Francis explains in Forbes’s week feature story, “Young people only want to buy community-led brands that align with their values.”

The Gymshark team’s goal has always been building a fan-led community, which explains how they have managed to build a larger social media following on TikTok and other platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

Gymshark Transitions to TikTok

Gymshark has been partnering with influencers right from its inception. They began working with Instagram influencers, before the huge emergence of TikTok. In fact, our founding team at House of Marketers played a huge part in onboarding Instagram influencers on to the platform before and during its transition from musical.ly to the new more-widely known, ‘TikTok’ brand.

Gymshark’s entry into TikTok followed several successes on Instagram and other social media channels. In the same visionary spirit, the brand has been collaborating with TikTok influencers to attract followers in their millions, and to expand their reach. Today Gymshark currently has a follower base of over 3.4 million and a whopping 52.2 million likes.

How Gymshark used Influencers to Increase TikTok Followers

Ben Francis and the group were a bit at the odds in a highly capitalised marketplace dominated by large brands like Nike and Adidas. They grew their brand using relatively lower budgets compared to their competitors.

But… How was this possible?

Alexandra Sternlicht on Forbes explains, “By marrying influencers marketing with high quality $25 athletic shorts, Francis has built the next Nike of Gen-Z.”

Big brands like Adidas and Nike have a large following on social media, but unlike these brands, Gymshark pays more attention to social media influencers. Longer established brands have been paying huge sums to renowned celebrities and superstars to promote their products. However, Gymshark pays attention to those influencers on TikTok that really resonate with generation Z.

TikTok influencers may not be global sportspeople, but that doesn’t matter. TikTok influencers are effective in engaging and converting the audiences of today. These are the people that Gymshark has been relying on to build its brand for years.

6 Tactics Gymshark Used to Grow Gymshark TikTok Account

TikTok took notice of the sudden rise to fame of TikTok and has been using the platform as a viable marketing channel to advertise and market its products. The brands have been using several tactics to scale their marketing budgets and lure potential followers to their brand.

1) Collaborating with TikTok Creators / Influencers

There is nobody that understands TikTok follower dynamics like TikTok creators. However, unlike other social media platforms the micro-influencers tend to carry the day on TikTok.

Typically, micro-influencers on TikTok receive an engagement rate of 17.96%, while mega influencers receive as little as 4.97%. With this in mind, it is without a doubt that micro-influencers run the day of TikTok. That said, micro-influencers especially have good insights into what type of content works best with certain audiences and know the best ways to present that type of content to that specific audience.

Gymshark has partnered with influencers to leverage their in-built following, gain new followers and get the expertise to help them promote their brand and products. The brand has collaborated with leading TikTok influencers like Melanie walking, Rybka Twins, and Laurie Elle to promote their campaigns. Interestingly, Gymshark and TikTok influencer partnerships stand out as the vital pillar of Gymshark’s worldwide success.

Brands like Gymshark often work with reputable TikTok marketing agencies to speed up the scalability of their influencer strategy effectively. If you’d like to learn about how we help scale brands on TikTok, you can contact our team here. Work with the best TikTok Influencer campaign managers to help you boost your awareness, online presence, and community engagements.

2) Creating their TikTok Trends or Incorporating Trending Content and Giveaways

@nonabayat put in that work 🔥 (outfit @Gymshark ♬ original sound – Nona Bayat

There is no better way to grow your audience than to become the trendsetter. And with TikTok, you have all the tools you need to get started. Gymshark does it by creating branded hashtags, short dance routines and challenges.

In January 2019, for example, Gymshark launched its ‘Change your life’ campaign. The brand asked their users to choose a fitness goal for themselves and to upload it on the 1st January 2019. On 7th March, 66 days later, they were asked to upload the final photo to show their new gains or latest transformation.

The fans had to tag the brand using @GymShark and #gymshark66. The challenge winners got to take home a free year’s supply of Gymshark goods. The results were terrific; the campaign garnered over 1.9 million likes, 12,576 comments, 45.5 million views for the #gymshark66 hashtag challenge. And they were able to achieve such engagement with the help of top TikTok influencers.

3) Posting Consistently and Frequently – Over 40 Videos per Month

Posting consistently and often is one great way to boost engagements on TikTok. As Kristen Wiley, the founder and CEO at Statusphere, explains, “The TikTok algorithm rewards consistency by pushing your content to more users.” TikTok takes advantage of this, and it posts TikTok-centric content once daily.

Consistency allows brands to build more brand awareness. It also helps them get more eyes on their content which also enables them to expand their follower base.

4) Using User-focused Content to Boost TikTok Followers

Normally generation Z aren’t big fans of promotional content. Most users are on TikTok for entertainment, engagement, and connecting with fellow TikTokers. Gymshark knows this, and for that reason, when it comes to creating content for its fan base, the brand happily walks the thin line between brand promotion and entertainment.

Their content includes a range from workout tips, their take on current trends, funny videos, and amusing videos.

The content is purely entertaining, funny, inspirational, and motivational. The brand curates its content and naturally incorporates its message so that they are not spamming their followers with purely promotional content that offers no value.

This way, they are able to win the hearts of their followers, who are not just out there looking for content but looking for content that adds value to their lives.

5) Developing TikTok Hashtag Challenges to Boost Follower on TikTok

Hashtags are as relevant to TikTok, as Google ranking is to websites. They help users find content quickly. Anyone looking for specific content searches the hashtag to discover an unending range in that niche.

On TikTok, hashtags contribute largely to the content that ends up on the ‘For You’ Page. Trending hashtags will also be displayed on the discover page. So, using TikTok hashtags helps your content get more visibility. It amplifies your content reach, enabling you to get to people beyond your existing followers.

With an extended reach, hashtags help you win more audience and give the audience reasons to follow you.

6) Inspiring Active Community Engagement

Building a solid engagement rate TikTok is a crucial pillar of growing your account on TikTok. After all, the main reason brands are getting on board on TikTok is getting people to talk about their brands. By securing those comments, likes, shares, views, and flowers, the brand is certain to drive its customers to action or achieve their campaign goals. Gymshark remains one of the brands with the highest engagements on TikTok.

Gymshark 66 Days Challenge Campaign Breakdown

@swolericketts let’s get right together !! #gym #fitness #workout #gymtok ♬ Lil Uzi Vert SHELLS JUNE MIX – JUNE! (fka Shawn May)

Gymshark has continually boosted its following using social media hashtag challenges. The first challenge was the 66 Days Challenge that the brand ran in 2019. The goal was to increase brand awareness and reach. Followers submitted their ‘after’ and ‘before’ videos using the hashtag #gymshark66 and @Gymshark, and in the end, the hashtag #gymshark66 generated over 193m views. For the last three years, the GYMSHARK66 challenge’s hashtags have dominated the brand’s TikTok campaigns.

More about the #Gymshark66 2021 Challenge Strategy Breakdown

They reintroduced their #Gymshark66 challenge in 2021. The theme for this years’ challenge was Try new, try now, try-hard.

Gymshark asked users to decide what fitness goal to try, document the progress, and share it on social media using the tag @Gymshark and #Gymshark66. As is customary with TikTok, the #Gymshark66 TikTok campaigns involved user submissions featuring some choreographed movements set to music. And the winner was to take home a year’s supply of Gymshark products.

Like its predecessors, the #Gymshark66 2021 challenge featured several weekly challenges supported by nine diverse challenges every week in the 66 days that the challenge lasted.

The First Week – #ActiveEveryday66

Gymshark kicked off the #gymshark66 2021 challenge with an activity everyday challenge. This could be, for instance, replacing your car journey with a walk, or taking exercise breaks away from your office desk. Gymshark encouraged the user to share their experiences using the tag #ActiveEveryday66.

The Second Week – #PowerHour66

The creatives in this week revolved around waking up an hour earlier than usual and making use of the time to accomplish what they had wished to accomplish. The creatives involved many morning routines and day planning.

The Third Week #EducateYourself66

This week’s creatives revolved around people teaching themselves self-something new.

The Fourth Week #HealthySwaps66

This week’s creative challenge involved making small health incremental challenges that could positively impact themselves. This could be, for instance, taking the stairs instead of the lift or playing physical games as opposed to watching TV as a form of entertainment.

The Fifth Week #SomethingNew66

The creative concept here involved thinking of something new to improve or change their life. For example, learning a new language, enrolling in a new online course, and more.

The Sixth Week #ForTheWorld66

This week’s creative concept involved making a change in the world we live in. This could be by reducing excess wastages, using reusable and recyclable materials, or turning off the lights to conserve energy.

The #5kADay66 Gymshark TikTok Challenge

This tag involved setting up a cardiovascular goal and smashing it. The brand encouraged users to track a 5KM run at their own pace, before sharing the experience on social media using the hashtag #5KDAY.

The Eight Week #Mindfulness66

The tag #mindfullness promoted mental health awareness amongst Gymshark followers. Considering the pandemic, Gymshark encouraged followers to be mindful of their mental health since it is equally important as physical fitness.

The Ninth Week #SupportLocal66

This final week’s theme was all about going local, supporting local businesses and people. This could be exploring local tourist attractions, hiring local services like a gardener or electrician, or even checking out a new independent café. Gymshark encourage users to share these experiences creatively in TikTok videos, using the tag #SupportLocal66.

Gymshark asked users to try one, some, or all of these challenges as long as they showed their progress using the hashtags each week.

The Prizes for the Challenge

The prizes? Six overall winners of the #Gymshark66 2021 received an exclusive Gymshark outfit for every month of the year. 60 additional people were selected as winners from the weekly challenges (ten per week). This group took home a host of Gymshark gift cards and product prizes. Not only that, they formed an elite group of people that were championed on Gymshark products and across websites the whole year.

Key Marketing Lessons from Gymshark

Impressed by Gymshark’s influencer marketing strategy?

Here are the top three lessons we can learn from their approach:

Focus on Building a Community Aligned with Your Values

For Gymshark, influencers are not merely a tool for reaching new audiences, but a means to project the brand’s values. By carefully selecting influencers who resonate with Gymshark’s core vision, they ensure the brand connects with consumers who share these values.

Don’t be Afraid to Try out New Platforms

Gymshark continuously seeks unique ways to engage with influencers, much like our team at House of Marketers. Their innovative campaigns are designed to engage not just the influencers, but also the broader audience.

Take ‘We Lift the City,’ an event Gymshark organised in Birmingham, as an example. This innovative approach facilitated consumer interactions with their favourite fitness influencers, while also providing access to Gymshark’s latest product range.

Such strategies exemplify how Gymshark leverages innovation to create memorable experiences and strong audience engagement.

Stick to What Works

Gymshark emphasises the power of consistency in marketing strategies. Since influencers have been instrumental in Gymshark’s evolution from a startup to a multi-million-pound business, the brand remains committed to this strategy. Their plan includes more influencer-studded events, underlining their continued dedication to the community of fitness enthusiasts and influencers.

Adapt, but don’t abandon what’s working. Gymshark’s success demonstrates that consistency in effective marketing strategies is a key driver for sustained growth.

Content Diversity

Gymshark’s TikTok content strategy involves a mix of user-generated content, workout videos, behind-the-scenes glimpses into the company, and collaborative videos with influencers. This diversity of content helps Gymshark reach different segments of its audience and keeps their content fresh and engaging.

Authenticity and Transparency

Another critical takeaway from Gymshark’s strategy is the importance of authenticity and transparency in influencer marketing. Gymshark works with influencers who genuinely use and love their products, ensuring that any endorsements are truthful and resonate with audiences.

Building Trust and Credibility

By maintaining authenticity in its influencer marketing, Gymshark has successfully built trust and credibility with its audience. This approach has significantly contributed to increased brand loyalty.

The Road Ahead for Gymshark

Gymshark’s journey illustrates that effective marketing isn’t solely about extensive experience or traditional channels. Influencer marketing continues to be an instrumental part of Gymshark’s marketing strategy, fueling the brand’s growth by expanding its consumer community.

Looking to replicate Gymshark’s success? Are you also interested in leveraging influencers to reach consumers, drive sales and transform your brand. Connect with our experienced team here to supercharge your influencer marketing strategy.

Don’t forget to stay up to date with our blog, here so you can hear about how other top brands are seeing success with Influencer marketing, and for the latest industry news.

To know more about how we can collaborate with you for your custom TikTok strategy.

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