In this blog, the second in our three part series highlighting retailers that are excelling with their brand experience, we focus on Sweaty Betty.
Operating since 1998, Sweaty Betty has carved a remarkable niche in the very competitive women's fitness market, where there is a huge set of competitors including the biggest of the big such as Nike. How do you take on Nike (itself seen as an amazing innovator as we'll see in the in-store section) and win?
The answer, at a broad level, is the brand experience. For many years now, Sweaty Betty has continued to innovate and gone deeper and deeper into engaging very personally with their customers and wider community, and selling a raft of product in the process. With only a limited store real estate (to date there are only 30 stores) their brand experience needs to work all the harder, as does their online and customer service aspects of the business. By focusing intensely on their customers and their lifestyles, they have created a very compelling brand proposition.
Customer focus from the start
In a world of multichannel, it's rare to find something that is in some ways restricted by store. That's the case with Sweaty Betty where each store or boutique, to use their terminology, has its own ‘club’.
The club lets customers know about local activities and places where they can keep active. It also enables them to take part in their 'Get Fit for Free' classes. These classes are a fantastic extension of the brand and often involve the use of studios they own above the retail store. They move Sweaty Betty from a pure retailer to an organisation offering a real helping hand towards a significant part of their customer’s lifestyle. Add to that guest instructors and Q&A sessions and there's some very serious value being given to the customers, and they give their loyalty in return. 94 of companies see higher engagement % and conversion rates due to a commitment to customer experience. Source: Econsultancy Take their current campaign 'Get Your Om Back' - it's running for the month of July and is all-encompassing with a full 30 day challenge, excellent social media integration, competition for a retreat and free yoga classes in-store, plus video content. They have gone all out, as you should, to create an amazing brand experience. The outcome is selling some yoga kit, for sure, but you know that there's more driving this brand than just sales.
They also have a very strong vision of who their customer is. In an interview for ‘Fitness on Toast’ the Sweaty Betty design team discussed Kate, the Sweaty Betty Girl:
She’s a thirty-something professional woman, perhaps a director, or part of the top management of a company, she shops at Whole Foods, she’s very active, very much at the forefront of new things, is most likely to be eating clean at the moment, and has children, but also has help. It’s all about life and balance for Kate. She is an aspirational woman.
Sweaty Betty also has a long history of collaborating with the right brands to drive the right customers: Cancer Research, English National Ballet and Cowshed to name but a few. They also have the right concessions in department stores including Selfridges, Harrods and Bloomingdale's in New York. These all drive the right customers, who see them aligned with the brands they already associate with and so, by proxy, this reputation reflects very positively on them. When they associate, they also continue to drive a brand experience - this is shown with Cancer Research being the official clothing partner and also raising money through London Marathon competitors and supplying them with their clothing. These kinds of deeper alignments are the ones that create value as opposed to a simple handshake in the corporate boardroom.
Social media success
With a smaller boutique footprint, social media channels for a brand that's built on great lifestyle integration are paramount to success. Fortunately for them, Sweaty Betty's are some of the best. What makes their brand experience on social media is two primary channels - their blog and associated video content and Instagram, for two different reasons. The blog itself clearly has a mission to provide useful content to its customers and visitors with short tips and video clips across the fitness/lifestyle arena. It also features inspirational looks at particular people or areas such as yoga; all of which drive the brand promise. Instagram is a slightly different affair. There's much celebration here of their customers, influencers and ambassadors getting involved. Right now it's all about their yoga campaign and you can see from the follower count and engagement numbers that this is successful for them at being in the customers’ mind regularly and being part of their aspirations.
With over 50% of Millennials making an effort to buy from companies that support causes they care about and twice as likely to buy organic, Sweaty Betty have done the right things, at the right time, attracting the right generation just as they have the money and mindset to really love the