How Can Your Fitness Boutique Create a Tribe Culture?

While the word ‘Tribe’ may be somewhat of a buzz word in the boutique fitness space, there’s a lot that can be learnt from taking the time to understand what it really means and what you can do to create one.
1. A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader.
Social division = Your Fitness Boutique
Traditional society = The traditional gym membership model
Communities = Your customers
Common culture = The shared belief that health and wellbeing should be taken seriously and is worth paying a premium for.
Recognised leader = Your brand
So that’s how the word ‘Tribe’ relates to the fitness boutique sector on the surface level.
But for those customers that do feel as though they’re part of a tribe it’s really about their identity and a sense of belonging.
It’s not a hobby, it’s one of the key pillars of their life.
So, why is it important that your fitness boutique understands all of this?
Well by creating a tribe culture you can experience:
  • Higher customer retention
  • Increased customer lifetime value
  • Higher sales of merchandise
  • Larger social media followings
  • More engaged customers both offline and online
  • Faster business expansion
  • Increased word of mouth sales
We could go on.
The benefits are plentiful.
And you only have to look as far as those boutique fitness brands who have created that tribe culture to see the proof.
1Rebel last year secured £6.6 million in funding to expand their high intensity workout brand and now have five locations around London.
Blok London are in the midst of a crowd funding campaign which will see them expand to Manchester, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, LA and San Francisco.
Orangetheory have over 1,000 locations in the US and have just brought their franchise over to the UK with a plan to have 40 locations by 2028.
These are three fitness boutiques who have, unknowingly or not, created a tribe culture that has accelerated their growth.
Whether it’s 1Rebel’s no plastic policy, Blok London’s Instagram worthy facilities or Orangetheory’s addictive workouts, these are all brands who managed to create loyal followings of brand advocates.
So, how can your Fitness Boutique follow suit and create a Tribe Culture?

1. Branding

Think of this like war paint.
It’s the stamp that unites your customers and they should want to wear it proudly.
No matter how great your classes are, if your branding is weak then your customers aren’t going to want to sport your tote bags or your water bottles.
While it’s believed that boutique fitness in the UK is going to gradually start normalising, it’s still very much a status symbol.
Therefore strong branding is crucial for growing a following both online and offline.
It will often be a customers first impression of your brand.
So what does your branding say about you?
Are you using strong bold lettering to represent the high intensity workouts?
Are you using pastel colours to reflect the zen and calming experience of your yoga classes?
All of these sorts of questions are crucial when deciding on a brand identity that you believe your customers will want to be a part of.
Gravity Action: Review your branding and ask yourself if it reflects what your boutique is about and whether you can imagine people wearing your logo proudly on their gym kit.

2. Personalisation

Secondly, your fitness boutique needs to be taking full advantage of the power of personalisation.
And this doesn’t mean using a first name tag in your email marketing, it’s about so much more than that.
It’s about providing a service that feels completely tailored the needs and desires of your customers.
So rather than sending your customer a confirmation email from a ‘support@’ or ‘info@’ email address, you send one from an instructor letting them know that you’re really looking forward to working out with them.
Personalisation is about the little touches that make a big difference.
It can be as simple as the instructor remembering and using everyones first names throughout a session to instil a sense of self-worth and belonging in everyone.
It could be an integration with an app that allows your instructors to message class members individually straight after workouts with individual feedback.
It could be a towel and water bottle waiting in advance for your customers workout session.
Whatever it is, it’s about making your customers feel valued.
As humans we have an uncontrollable desire to feel wanted and once your fitness boutique satisfies this your tribe culture will begin to blossom.

3. Omnichannel Experience

The third key ingredient to tribe culture is being wherever your customers are.
Not in an overbearing harassment way, but in a way that says ‘we’re here for you whatever you need.’
This means having a presence in all of the places that your customers spend their time.
Whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, it’s important that your brand is active on these platforms.
And not so that you can sell to them, just so that subconsciously you’re always in the back of their mind and they associate hearing from you and seeing you in the same way that they do their close friends.
This is why messenger marketing is currently exploding.
Messenger marketing is when you communicate to your customers through channels such as Facebook messenger and Whatsapp.
It’s extremely powerful because it’s where your customers used to replying to messages and being engaged.
The average open rate of an email is anywhere from 10–20%.
Whereas the average open rate of a FB message is 80–90%!
So having an omnichannel presence is about being smart and thinking about what the most ways to form connections with your customers.
And it’s not just about expanding your online presence.
It’s about increasing your offline presence in your customers lives too.
You’ll notice that the biggest brands offer so much more than fitness classes.
They offer smoothie bars, clothing, salons, day care, cafes and loads more.
These are the brands that are redefining what a fitness brand is all about and are creating loyal tribes in the process.
Gravity Action: Run a social media audit to find out how much your customers engage with your brand online and see if there are any channels where your presence is either weak or non existent.

4. Customer Insights

If you’re going to create a tribe culture you need to know your audience inside out.
Because otherwise you want know what sort of culture you should be creating.
There’s no point rebranding with big bold fonts and pushing high intensity military style classes if most of your audience are looking for a zen boutique that doesn’t put pressure on performance.
One of the best ways to learn about your customers is through segmentation.
This means splitting up your customers into separate marketing lists based on their preferences and workout habits.
So rather than sending a blanket email to everyone about a special offer, different lists will receive different offers that are tailored to their goals and workout preferences.
Your first opportunity to start segmenting your customers is when you get a new one.
Ideally you want to send them an email asking them what their fitness goals are and the reason they signed up to your boutique.
So going forward someone who is looking to improve their mental wellbeing will receive a different service to those that are looking to build muscle.
The more you know about your customers, the better service you can provide.
Because at the end of the day your marketing should be geared around what your customers want to achieve, not what you want to achieve as a business.
So to summarise, in order to create a tribe culture you need to :
Know your brand
Know how to make your customers feel valued
Know where your customers spend their time
Know what your customers want to achieve
Once you know of all those things, you will be able to create a tribe culture that will grow both organically and quickly.