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 revolutionized the fitness apparel industry in 7 years! 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 it’s 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!

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 license 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.

gymshark vest gym exercising

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, organizing 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 influencer outside wearing gymshark trousers

Gymshark’s Unique Strategic Approach

While the drive and smart decisions laid a solid foundation, Gymshark’s meteoric rise can be attributed to another key element in their history – Francis’ shrewd grasp of influencer marketing, a strategy which positioned him as a pioneer in the industry.

In Gymshark’s infancy, the brand had a compelling business idea, excellent products, and a dedicated team led by Francis. But they faced a common challenge: brand awareness. Francis needed an efficient way to spread the word about his products without depleting his resources. The answer, he realized, lay in a promising marketing strategy of the time: Influencer Marketing.

With a clear goal, Francis scoured social media for leading fitness influencers. Many agreed to collaborate with Gymshark, receiving boxes of the brand’s clothing free of charge. In return, they showcased the clothing to their large follower base. This strategy was a gamble. Shipping numerous products free of charge was costly, and at the time, the effectiveness of Influencer marketing was still largely unproven. However, Francis’ bold move paid off. Gymshark saw a massive influx of new customers following these social media endorsements, propelling their sales to new heights.

While influencer marketing was a key driver of Gymshark’s growth, it was by no means the only one. The brand also focused on offering innovative and high-quality products, maintaining excellent customer service, and building a community around the brand. Their approach to fitness apparel was fresh and innovative, bringing a new level of style and comfort to the industry, which quickly captured the attention of fitness enthusiasts.

Harnessing YouTube: The Start of Gymshark’s Influencer Campaigns

YouTube proved to be a crucial platform in Gymshark’s early marketing campaigns. Francis forged strategic partnerships with renowned fitness YouTubers Nikki Blackketter and Lex Griffin. These influencer stars agreed to exclusively wear Gymshark apparel in their videos, giving the brand access to a massive audience of fitness enthusiasts. As Blackketter and Griffin ranked among the top fitness YouTubers globally, the exposure was immense. Millions of fans saw their admired athletes sporting Gymshark clothing, painting the brand in a favorable light while significantly increasing its visibility.

Leaning into Community: Building the Gymshark Athlete Community

Armed with several successful influencer partnerships, Gymshark set its sights on expanding its influencer marketing campaigns. Francis shifted focus to different social media platforms, with a special emphasis on Instagram, broadening Gymshark’s reach. This marked the inception of the ‘Gymshark Athlete Community,’ a group of influencers in the fitness niche who shared Gymshark’s core values and vision.
Today, the brand enjoys associations with numerous influencers who proudly represent Gymshark to their global audiences. Their belief in Gymshark products has facilitated regular, authentic promotion. With an impressive outreach of over 20 million, and a roster of trusted influencers featured on its website, Gymshark has forged a robust marketing model. Recognizing what worked for Gymshark and its consumers, Francis held steadfast to this effective strategy.

gymshark exercise dumbells

Expanding to TikTok: Gymshark’s Latest Influencer Strategy

Recognizing the rise of TikTok, Gymshark strategically expanded its influencer network to this burgeoning platform. This shift has provided access to a broader audience, with Gymshark leveraging TikTok creators who have larger followings on TikTok than on Instagram. A particularly smart move has been encouraging influencers to cross-post their Gymshark content on Instagram, further amplifying the brand’s reach.

One campaign that stands out is the ’66 Days to Change Your Life’ challenge. This campaign encouraged followers to embark on a personal journey towards a selected goal, marking their progress with photos over the 66 days. This not only motivated positive lifestyle changes but also created user-generated content and brand engagement.

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A Glimpse Into a Gymshark TikTok Influencer Campaign.

Objective of the Campaign

  • Raise Gymshark’s brand and product awareness
  • Promote the “66 Day | Change Your Life” challenge, aligning with the brand’s message of personal growth and perseverance
  • Generate user-created content, boosting engagement and fostering a community

Approach to the Campaign

  • Platform was TikTok, a rapidly growing social media platform with high user engagement.
  • A diverse set of six influencers, spanning categories such as health, fitness, lifestyle, and dance, to appeal to a wider audience.

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 organized 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 emphasizes 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.

The key takeaway?

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.

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. 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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