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The Unicorn & The Shark

Isn’t it nice to hear about success in the current world?

We are being bashed by negatives and fear and recession woes but it’s not all bad. Let’s take a moment to celebrate GymShark today, the new unicorn on the block.

I did some shopping psychology analysis for Gymshark in 2017 and the findings made it pretty clear that they were destined for big things. It’s worth taking a look at some of the highlights to understand how they did it - lessons for all brands here:

Real Values

Be a visionary

How often do we miss the point of values (read my Forbes interview on this topic here)? When a business operates from a set of values that everyone believes in, it becomes part of the DNA, the decision-making process and the psychology of the brand and that shit makes it real.

Being a visionary is not just a phrase for a wall, it’s how they tell and sell their stories.

Psychological Principle Alert: Stories of success is a structured way of running communication in our model. It’s how GymShark executed their success in social media:

They told stories of customers and how they are supporting them.

They told stories of effort in their design.

They told stories of success in diet, exercise and above all else repped the market they stood for.

That is not what other brands do, they try but when Adidas shoot for virtue and care it leaves you feeling flat and doubtful, check it:

Our Gap model sees patterns in advertising, for the last few months it was all about Safety and Uncertain Times now our model is picking up Virtue and Care and that is the Adidas sell in the advert. It’s just not believable, say what you want about consumers, sure, we may love buying pointless crap we don’t need but we have the best computer on this planet (in our heads) and it's great at rejecting meaningless stuff like this.

When a brand is true to itself and serves its market accordingly it wins, just look at GymShark for proof.

Tribal thinking

There is a difference between community and tribe, 2017 insight:

It’s the bodyshame era, more muscle, more Instagram, more body awareness. Gymshark are crushing it and their growth shows that. The habit they are beating is that other brands only partially serve the customer needs whereas Gymshark IS the Gym!

This is tribal thinking in motion as they doubled down on the customer and avoided bulk discounting. The time of shifting products and only doing that is dead and it’s killing brands to keep doing so (whitepaper on this next week with a raft of brand examples). GymShark went after and obtained a tribe, of course they shifted the product but it’s actually representing the market they serve FIRST before creating the product. Key difference that is in their case worth billions.

The Science of Cool

2017 insight

The key challenge for a high growth fashion brand is can they maintain the equity of cool? Today’s perception could easily become Under Armour or low end like Lonsdale or worse, and then people stop caring. That’s the boom and bust era of Influencer marketing.

But they didn’t become a Lonsdale in any way! They worked extremely hard with the right type of influencers with the right type of content.

Shopping ScienceAlert: You cannot underestimate the equity of Cool or the power of influence. We humans are followers by nature and the equity of Cool is based between us, those we admire and above all else our friends. Cool with Influence is Shopping Science!

What are the lessons?

I ran back through our Gap modelling of 2017 and layered it against 2020 and GymShark is just doing a bunch of psychological techniques really well. The core being they understand the market they serve and aren’t boxed in by shifting product strategy.

How many brands need to die before we realise that the traditional focus on shifting product only ends one way: discounts and ultimately in closure?

GymShark is a great example of a brand with purpose that puts the customer first and doesn’t shove product down their throats. I will die a happy man once people stop trying to shift products with price, discounts, offers and instead understand it’s about the meaning they sell, the belief they hold as a business, the psychological gains for the audience that they serve.

A brand full of influence, belief anchored with a customer first mindset will always win.

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