There is no question that 2013 was a breakout year for Athleta. So much so that the Chairman and CEO of parent company Gap Inc. recently said, “…It looks like Athleta is on its path to becoming the fourth iconic brand within Gap Inc.’s portfolio.” (Jeff Quackenbush) The three other brands he’s referring to are Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. I have worn all these brands during various periods of my life but Athleta is where I have found my second skin these days.
When it comes to maintaining its brand in an integrated world, Athleta does an excellent job. As you can see on its main company site and across key social channels, it maintains the same logo, imagery and title fonts. It’s aesthetically cohesive and consistent. Occasionally, there will be a different image on one channel over another as you see below with Google+ but the subject is always the same: A strong, fit and active woman.
On each page you will find a simple two sentence mission statement, something very key to success as outlined in this week’s reading Branding Your Website.
“The premier fitness fashion brand for women who see being healthy and fit as vital to life. Power to the She.”
Athleta’s website features social buttons connecting its consumer to some of its social channels including a button drawing attention to its mobile site:
Additionally, the mobile site is very user friendly. I have placed orders with ease on both my iPad and my Android phone. Having a sleek, clean mobile site that is consistent with the brand is key. It’s an understatement to say mobile is the future:
“Although most online purchases still occur via PCs, Digiday believes commerce will be among the industries most affected by the rise of mobile. Global e-commerce sales made via mobile devices are expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs. For perspective, that was roughly the entire size of the world’s e-commerce market in 2013. Goldman predicts that tablet, not smartphones, will be the primary drivers of mobile commerce growth. (Cooper Smith)
(You can read Digiday’s entire Mobile Forecast Report HERE)
Push & Pull:
Athleta combines push and pull marketing in many ways. On their company site, a consumer gets “pulled” with an option to receive emails and/or the catalog. Those emails and catalogs are then “pushed” out and might include upcoming sales, events in your city or just a product highlight. Below is an example of one I received recently that is both sale and product highlight:
Athleta also utilizes traditional push marketing such as billboards and advertising kiosks in malls:
When I recently visited my local Athleta store I saw this in the window ~ a little push marketing with a local social media twist:
Athleta leverages all their social channels as brand enforcers ~ not a one-stop shop. Athleta wisely houses all ability to purchase online on its company website only. It uses its social channels as a pull strategy by showcasing the brand message and linking to the main company site. It’s most effective pull strategy in my opinion is its blog: Athleta Chi
The blog is a forum for women to discuss fitness, sports, wellness, travel, exchange recipes, view demo videos, learn, bond and share empowering, inspirational stories. Athleta wisely incorporates a “Fit Style” category which will take you to their product lines but it’s not shoved down your throat. You can also respond to the push marketing technique of opting in to receive a pull via “Chi-mail” (above right).
Marketing & Branding through Events:
Athleta has several partnerships, some they showcase right on their homepage including the Mudderella and Esprit De She. These events along with Athleta’s participation at expos for various 5ks and other races are another form of pull marketing. Women who participate in these events are exposed to Athleta in a supportive role. They get an opportunity to see the brand at work out in the community.
The Athleta website is clean, beautifully laid out and reflective of their brand. Athleta’s relationship with Lifetime for Esprit De She & Mudderella are partnerships with like-minded brands of strength, empowerment, health and well-being. In creating partnerships with like-minded companies, Athleta stays true to its “Power to the She” brand message. In further analyzing their integrated marketing and brand, I have a few recommendations where Athleta could be a bit more consistent and drive consumers back to their main website.
- Athleta is on more social channels than they link to on their company website. The social media consumer is widespread and consumers are loyal to different channels. There is an opportunity to measure click-through and see what social channels Athleta consumers are interested in. A recent loyalty social survey revealed “These channels are powerful and should not be ignored. Gather intelligence from these channels and aggressively seek opportunities to influence the conversation.” (Jim Tierney) Additionally we already know that having your brand on Google+ increases your chances of showing up in Google search results – so why not flaunt your Google-ness? (Kristin Curtiss) I recommend adding icons for You Tube and Google+. Loyal customers make loyal and knowledgeable employees. I would add a LinkedIn button as well. Then, I recommend making buttons consistent across the blog, company website and social channels that allow other social buttons. For example, on Athleta’s You Tube page (click below) there is a Google+ button but You Tube allows Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog buttons as well.
- On Athleta’s main website, I also recommend moving the location of the social/sharing buttons “above the fold” similar to what Athleta does on its blog. As you can see below, on the main company site the social buttons are buried at the bottom of the page. This may be strategic with the thought being not to leave the main company site, however, the company wisely has purchasing ability housed on the main site. Sending potential customers to their social channels will only increase brand awareness and potentially strengthen a consumer connection. It’s a worthy gamble.
- As discussed above, Athleta has a beautiful and informative blog for women empowerment and community. Interestingly though, Athleta does not link to their blog on their Pinterest page in any prominent way (see below)
We know that Pinterest is dominated by women. 94% of all activity on Pinterest is by women. (Craig Smith) This is a missed opportunity to expose women to a brand- defining blog. Additionally, the blog is not featured on their Twitter page either. I would add prominent links on both these channels above the fold.
- Another recommendation I would make for consistency would be adding the main website www.athleta.com to the top of its Facebook and Instagram pages. It is on the Facebook page, but you have to click the “About” link in order to access the company site. On Instagram, the only link featured prominently takes you to the Athleta Chi blog (see below). I think promoting the blog is great but I would advocate prominent links to both the main website AND the Athleta Chi blog.
- While Athleta has a beautiful mobile site, at this time they don’t have an option to receive text message alerts about new stores opening, sales or other events. I recommend creating this option for consumers. It allows the company to target a customer who is clearly interested.
- Athleta should consider a Twitter and Pinterest Widget on its website.
- Finally, IthinkAthleta can offer a more integrated brick and mortar experience. I recently made a purchase and noticed there is no social media imagery in the store promoting their channels. When I paid for my purchase, the sales team did not ask for my email to send me my receipt (and then have my email on file!). My purchase was packaged in an awesome reusable, recycled bag but there was no website signage on the bag at all. Lastly, I noted on my receipt at the very bottom there was a line about “Liking on Facebook” but that required a purchase to even reach that touch point. The below gallery is a visual of my experience:
Athleta could be a little more consistent in their social media integration, blog promotion and driving back to their main site for purchasing. That said, the company does a great job of keeping its brand message consistent on all its channels. They are all about creating a strong, empowered community for women and it is reflected in word and image beautifully throughout their pages. Each channel lives up to giving “Power to the She”.
Jeff Quackenbush. (February 28, 2014). Gap calls 2013 ‘breakout year for Athleta’. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/88434/gap-calls-2013-breakout-year-for-athleta/
Cooper Smith. (April 2, 2014). US E-Commerce Growth is Now Far Outpacing Overall Retail Sales. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/us-e-commerce-growth-is-now-far-outpacing-overall-retail-sales-2014-4
Jim Tierney. (May 9, 2014). Social Intelligence: An Opportunity for Loyalty Marketers. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://loyalty360.org/resources/article/social-intelligence-an-opportunity-for-loyalty-marketers
Kristin Curtiss. (February 6, 2014). Google Plus: Your New SEO Valentine. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://blogs.constantcontact.com/product-blogs/social-media-marketing/google-plus-seo/
Craig Smith. (March 4, 2014). By the Numbers: 80 Amazing Pinterest Statistics (Updated June 2014). Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pinterest-stats/#.U5S5H_ldWnY