Gymshark: Finding a Niche in the Market

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Be a Visionary.

Born in the age of social media, Gymshark’s large success can be built upon what we now know as social media/ influencer marketing as well as engaging with their customers and followers through events. Being at the forefront of the activewear market and named UK’s fastest growing company, Gymshark is the quintessential modern-day success story. 

The Gymshark Story 

When most 19 year olds are simply studying at uni or goofing around, Ben Francis was designing websites, developing apps and starting businesses. The entrepreneurial fire inside Francis had already been burning for a long time, and in 2012, the idea of Gymshark was born. At the time, Francis was still a full-time uni student by day and pizza delivery man by night. Being an avid workout enthusiast himself, Francis realised there was no gym apparel he and his mates actually wanted to wear. What did they decide to do from here? Make it themselves. Moving forward 7 years, Gymshark has grown from a screen printing operation in Francis’s mum's garage, into one of the fastest growing and most recognisable brands in fitness. 

Spotting a Gap in the Market

Gymshark found their niche in the fitness market when they noticed that bodybuilders and hardcore gym regulars were largely ignored by mainstream apparel brands, specifically from a stylistic perspective. 

At the time, brands were not creating activewear that was both fashionable and performance approved. Only baggy body-building gear targeted towards older customers, or high-end and expensive fitness clothing purely geared towards functionality seemed to be in the market.

At the same time, it was the period where health and fitness accounts became a trend on social media, generating enormous amounts of following from young audiences also interested in the subject matter. Gymshark’s core was to create high quality yet affordable activewear for this market, where looking good at the gym was as important as looking good on a night out.

Gymshark prides themselves in delivering quality and high performance clothing that are designed with various intricate design techniques to show off the wearer’s enviable assets. After all, after working copious hours at the gym, who does not want to show off their firm pectorals and toned quads?

With its focused targeting and niche products, Gymshark has managed to push into an industry made up of established brands such as Nike and Adidas.  

Influencer’s into Ambassador’s

Gymshark owes much of its substantial growth to its unique marketing techniques. Francis and his friends took a groundbreaking approach when they began dressing various social media influencers in Gymshark apparel in hopes that they would wear and promote the clothing on their own respective social media channels. What we now know as influencer marketing was a relatively foreign and new concept at the time. This strategy proved to be very successful when it boosted sales considerably. There on, Gymshark continued to sponsor more influencers, totalling to a combined 20 million followers. This eventually turned influencers into brand ambassadors, now known as Gymshark athletes. Having established influencers promote their clothing, this created a natural trust between Gymshark and customers as athletes would wear the clothing all over their channels.

Bridge The Gap Between Online and Offline

While Gymshark is an eCommerce-only brand with no standing retail stores, they have found ways to connect the online and offline worlds. Gymshark has achieved a sense of community through holding Gymshark meet-ups and expos in Germany, America and Australia, where fans had the opportunity to purchase apparel as well as meet their admired fitness idols. All events were documented through Instagram stories and vlogs on YouTube. Through this business model, Gymshark is able to sell quality apparel at affordable prices by exclusively selling online. At the same time, by fostering relationships between consumers and the athletes, trust is being built for Gymshark.

The Future

Gymshark is a story of how a 19 year old Ben Francis found a niche in the market and worked endlessly to pursue his vision. Whether you’re a fitness fanatic with an eye for style, or someone aspiring to be an entrepreneur, Gymshark is undoubtedly a company to follow. 

By 2024, Gymshark is predicted to reach activewear sales of $567 billion. This fitness empire will continue to compete against other giants in the fitness industry. 


Ben Francis Youtube

BBC News

Welltodo Global Wellness News

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Dian Liu