A Fitness Ecommerce Marketing Strategy that Keeps Customers Coming Back

Some entrepreneurs find a manufacturer to create the product they’ve envisioned. Others just start building it themselves. 

Martin Roy is the latter—he began Gorila Fitness by building their first squat rack in the shed of his parents’ backyard with his brother. Today, the Canadian-based fitness equipment brand manufactures and distributes close to 2,000 products.

“My brother and I were looking for gym equipment for a home gym because we just started CrossFit, but we only found a few companies that were selling quality stuff, and they were based in the U.S. That meant we would have to pay for duties, shipping was expensive, and we’d have to factor in the exchange rate. We thought, ‘Why not just build it ourselves?’ So that’s what we did,” said Martin. 

“We built the first Gorila squat rack. Then a friend asked for one, and then another friend, and it got to a point where companies were calling us to supply their gyms,” he said.

From there, Gorila Fitness equipment started popping up in CrossFits across Canada as well as military bases and performance centers while Martin was targeting like-minded strength training enthusiasts online.

Now that millions of people are both working from home and working out from home, though, Gorila Fitness is more in-demand than ever. 

But with more customers than ever, how does this Canadian fitness equipment brand plan to create enticing offers this upcoming holiday season? Find out how Gorila fitness is building a marketing strategy for Cyber Weekend amid inventory uncertainty.

Why content is the gift that keeps on giving

Martin has been working tirelessly to keep engagement with the Gorila Fitness brand alive even through a global pandemic. 

At the onset of the coronavirus, he designed an online competition for gym-goers stuck at home where winners would receive prizes.

“People got to film their workouts and send them to us. There was even a leaderboard online, so it was pretty fun for people that were confined to their homes at that point,” said Martin.

Now, as Cyber Weekend approaches, Martin plans to go beyond offering the typical deep discount to instead offer something that has already proven to be successful with Gorila Fitness’s customers—health and wellness content.

“Inventory will be very different this year. We build a lot of items to order so we might do some kind of a sale on those, but items are very hard to keep in-stock these days and the demand is so high that, right now, it doesn’t need to be on sale to sell,” said Martin. 

Previously, Martin has employed a tiered discount strategy where the more customers bought, the more they saved. But with a very different year, it required him to think out-of-the-box and consider what Gorila Fitness can realistically offer their customers—and what will resonate most with them.

And because content is the gift that keeps on giving, that’s exactly what Martin plans to offer.

“Ideally, we’ll have a virtual product like a training program. We want to be able to keep up with the demand and the virtual products seem to be a very good way to thank our customers while not having to rely on any inventory,” said Martin.

For the challenge he created for customers back in March, Gorila Fitness partnered with renowned coaches in Montreal to work with them on the programming, which is likely what they would do again to offer this virtual training program around Cyber Weekend.

While discounts are certainly still attractive to consumers, brands that can offer value in other ways, such as through virtual events or content programs, like Gorila Fitness will win the hearts and wallets of customers this holiday shopping season.

How the pandemic has revived the home workout

Part of the reason that Gorila Fitness is fighting to meet demand is because it fits into a category Klaviyo has deemed “new essentials”—or the items consumers are increasingly purchasing to help them weather the pandemic and maintain some semblance of normalcy. 

But just how popular are brands that sell home gym equipment right now?

Klaviyo’s data science team looked at the data of over 50,000 ecommerce brands to determine the year-over-year (YoY) growth of certain products, and the numbers are astounding.

For example, if you look at squat racks, Gorila Fitness’s hero product, you’ll see over 555 percent YoY growth compared to 2019, with spikes starting in March. 

If you look at the data surrounding adjustable benches, another product that accounts for a generous portion of Gorila Fitness’s sales, you’ll find over 721 percent YoY. Meanwhile, weight plates are experiencing 490 YoY growth.

Not to mention, consumers continue to show a preference for working out at home over rejoining their local gyms as many are still cautious about sweating in the same space—even if it’s from a distance.

In fact, Klaviyo’s business intelligence team surveyed approximately 1,000 consumers and found that the majority (37 percent) plan to do their own fitness regimens at home in the coming months, while 43 percent of consumers report that they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to an in-person gym or fitness studio right now.

And while 12 percent of people have already purchased new fitness equipment throughout the year, an overwhelming 42 percent of consumers still plan to purchase fitness equipment for at-home exercising, with the top categories being strength training (23 percent) and home gym (12 percent), similar to Gorila Fitness’s product offering.

It’s not surprising that Gorila Fitness has been overwhelmed with interest and Martin has had to hire extra staff, growing from five to 14 total employees including hiring additional welders to keep up with made-to-order products. Additionally, when one of their US competitors was forced to stop shipping to Canada, this sent yet another wave of weightlifters their way.

“The biggest issue was with international orders. We were already keeping most of our business here in Canada, but we made the choice to do even more here because of the simplicity but also because we felt it was important to keep things local,” said Martin.

Fortunately, though, Gorila Fitness has been able to keep up with the demand for the most part, partially due to the fact that they’ve decreased their paid advertising. 

“We’ve definitely had to cut back on marketing and we’ve basically removed all the ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. We really only kept Klaviyo and we did that pretty early on to make sure we were going to be able to manage and control our growth,” said Martin.

“Looking back, I know we did the right thing because we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the demand if we kept our ads going. Plus, I think there was so much madness that we didn’t need to pay for advertising in order for people to find us,” he said. 

Clearly, from the data above, Martin was correct on that front. Now, he’s shifting his focus to retaining new customers for Cyber Weekend through these content programs rather than acquiring more.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing what we can now to keep customers with us. We’re doing a little bit on social media, but what gets the best results in terms of retention is email marketing,” he said.

A new Cyber Weekend for new essentials

As this category of “new essentials” continues to evolve, the people behind the brands that fall into this category must evolve, too. 

Now, they must think critically about how they’ll adapt a Cyber Weekend marketing and discount strategy to an atypical situation where demand is higher than ever and inventory is uncertain.

Entrepreneurs like Martin, who consider what offers make sense for their business as it currently stands as well as what offers will provide the most value to their customers, will be heavily rewarded both this holiday season, with consumer dollars, and beyond, with customer trust.

Interested in reading how more small ecommerce businesses are approaching Cyber Weekend? Find out how Tanoshi is leveraging a product launch in its holiday marketing strategy.

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