Whether you’re lifting weights in the gym, doing yoga in the studio, or jogging in the park, you rely on clothes that will support your physical activities. “Activewear” apparel, clothing designed for an active lifestyle, is able to provide both comfort and an extended range of motion while exercising.
The activewear industry is booming as gyms and fitness clubs around the world become more fashionable. Search “activewear” in Google and immediately you are overwhelmed with every major retail brand offering their own line of activewear apparel. Companies including Nike, Lululemon, Fabletics and Under Armour offer anything from sports bras to hiking pants to workout hoodies.
According to the NPD, a market research company, U.S. activewear sales reached $40.7 billion in 2016 and have outperformed other styles of apparel in year-to-year global sales growth. Since 60% of activewear consumers frequently browse for activewear online, ecommerce merchants have the ability to tap into this market with great success.
But even with such high demand for activewear products, it can be difficult for brands to stand out and claim their share of the pie. Implementing a dedicated customer retention strategy is a proven method to retain hard-earned customers, but strangely less than 20% of activewear brands use a loyalty program. In an industry where product overlap and high customer acquisition costs are exceedingly common, building up a strong loyalty program is crucial to keeping customers buying from your store.
For those of you looking to boost the customer retention rate and repeat purchase rate for your business, we’ve compiled some best practices to engineering an activewear loyalty program that works for your brand.
Understanding the Activewear Audience
To build a rewards program that engages activewear shoppers, we first need to understand the typical activewear audience.
Who is buying activewear?
The activewear industry is currently dominated by two generations: Millennials and Gen-Xers, each accounting for about 40% of the market. Research from studies by Multichannel Merchant and A.T. Kearney provide a closer look into the makeup of the activewear buyers.
Life stage: Activewear buyers often are parents. Across all generations, parents purchase more activewear clothing than people without kids. They are generally more likely to purchase comfortable clothing suited for exercise for themselves or for their children.
Gender: For every 10 consumers who purchase activewear, 6 of them will be women and 4 of them men. We don’t usually think of men when we see typical activewear--yoga pants or sports bras--however there is a very substantial male market. They tend to shop at retailers such as Nike, Under Armour, or Rhone.
Lifestyle: Lifestyle is an incredibly important purchase factor in the activewear market. Across all generations, people with an active lifecycle purchase twice as much apparel than less active people.
Salary: Activewear is expensive! Yoga pants can cost an average of $75-$100. So consumers purchasing the most activewear are considerably wealthier, making more than $100,000 a year on average.
Why are they buying activewear?
Cotton Incorporated, a research and marketing company, performed a study to find the main factors motivating U.S. consumers to purchase activewear. The five most important attributes are comfort (77%), fit (69%), washes clean (65%), quality (64%), and durability (62%). Generally, purchasers are most motivated by comfortable clothing that fits them well.
They also found that 92% of consumers use activewear for purposes other than exercise. These insights explain “athleisure,” a trend of casual clothing worn both for exercising and daily use. So in addition to working out in the gym, consumers are wearing their clothes in their homes and even at work. Athleisure has become stylish and is considered a fashion statement.
Where are they buying activewear?
Activewear consumers have very interesting buying habits. According to the Cotton Incorporated study, 60% of activewear browsing happens online; however, when people ultimately purchase activewear, 68% of people prefer to shop in-store.
When focused on millennials, research shows that their generation can easily be swayed by ads on social media or posts about products from friends. This age group can therefore be more motivated than other generations to purchase activewear products online.
How to Build an Awesome Loyalty Program
A study of several prominent activewear brands reveals five best practices you can follow to make sure your loyalty program and incentives resonate with your customers. We’ve utilized some of our merchants to show you how to make the most of your program.
1. Utilize Social Media.
Yoga Democracy knows that millennial activewear purchasers love social media. The eco-friendly activewear website lets users shop for products in store and through their Instagram page. In their loyalty program, users can earn rewards through interacting on any social channel--“liking” their page on Facebook, “following” them on Instagram or Twitter, or reading their content on their blog. By using social media in their loyalty program, Yoga Democracy has been able to harness their audience to keep them coming back while also broadcasting their brand to new potential customers.
For your store, decide on the most effective social platforms for your business and then reward customers for interacting with your brand on them. While Yoga Democracy uses Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, the options are endless. Building up your social channels establishes credibility and strengthens your marketing reach toward existing and new customers. By offering points in exchange for a “like” or a “follow,” you can easily utilize social media to supercharge your loyalty program and drive more sales.
2. Give Higher Rewards for Referring a Friend.
UK-inspired activewear ecommerce site Yoga Rebel knows the power that the online community has in sharing their brand. The company offers points for anyone that recommends their store to a friend. As we know, millennial activewear shoppers often look at reviews and trust their friends on social media before making purchases. Yoga Rebel is able to build consumers’ trust by utilizing their friends in sharing their brand.
For your store, do you have a refer-a-friend option as part of your loyalty program? If not, consider implementing the program as a way to increase your brand presence and credibility among new visitors. If you already have a program, try increasing the amount of points that you give people for referring a friend. A targeted email from a customer recommending your product to their friend will have a lot more of an impact that a general email sent by your company.
3. Reward Users for Creating Accounts.
Popflex, an ecommerce store selling beautifully designed activewear, rewards users 150 points for creating an account on their website. From what we know about millennial activewear shoppers, 60% of them will browse online, but very few will actually purchase online. In order to keep potential customers engaged in their brand and have less bounce rates, offering them rewards for entering their details and creating an account is very valuable. By creating an account, users will consider your brand more than other online or in-store options.
For your store, try offering rewards to users for creating an account on your website. This is a good way to fight against a common trend in the activewear market to browse online, but shop in-store. By creating an account, you can send your customers emails and keep them coming back to your store.
4. Market to Parents.
We know that parents are a lot more likely to purchase activewear products than those without kids. Vivace Athleisure, a Singapore-based luxe sportswear label, publishes blog posts and discounts each Mother’s Day. Visitors can receive 10% off their purchase when they use the code “ILOVEMOM10.” Whether millennials or their parents use this discount, Vivace made the right decision to create a campaign centered around parents.
In your program, you could offer extra rewards points for purchasing select products focused on parents. For example, you could award double points for customers that purchase socks or shorts for their kids. This would cater toward the large percentage of activewear buyers that are parents.
5. Be Unique.
Rhone is one of the leading ecommerce sites for selling activewear designed for guys. Besides tapping into the male market (which accounts for 40% of millennial activewear purchases), they have a pretty unique rewards program. Rhone offers 100 points to any customer that takes their “Lifestyle Quiz” which asks questions about their exercise & activewear preferences. By offering new ways to interact with the brand, Rhone is able to reach out and engage the millennial audience.
In your program, think about what makes your brand unique and different from other activewear retailers. For Rhone, they offer the “Lifestyle Quiz” to learn more about their male market. You could really reward anything that embodies your brand and makes your loyalty program unique. Possible options include rewards for commenting on your blog posts or posting photos wearing your product while exercising.
By knowing the activewear customer, we can easily extrapolate information to adapt and augment your loyalty programs. The opportunities are endless, but these best practices are popular among some of our most successful activewear merchants. Take these ideas and more to use in your own loyalty programs!