How sports brands are leveraging UGC to stand out in a competitive industry

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How sports brands are leveraging UGC to stand out in a competitive industry

The sporting goods industry experienced record sales in 2020. So, it’s safe to say it’s a great moment to be selling sports equipment online. But the growth of the industry also means an increase in competition including the growing need to innovate within the eCommerce space to attract more customers. 

Digital savvy shoppers need more from online brands to trust that their products are worth investing in; this means more information, more engagement, and more compelling content. But in an industry that inspires people to consistently compete and by their personal best, how do brands up their game and improve both their products and strategies?

It’s important to emphasize your reliability, accessibility and practicality to your potential customers – people need to know that they can trust your products during their outdoor expeditions as they push themselves and your products to their limits. Furthermore, with so many competitors, sport brands need to inspire customer longevity and brand loyalty. Customers tend to really rely on sports brands that serve them well, trusting that they’ll deliver high-quality products every time. 

Luckily, we know of a strategy that’s already helping sports brands overcome these issues and appeal to their audiences online. That strategy is User Generated Content (UGC), and we’re excited to present four examples of sports brands that are successfully using it. 

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at how 4 sporting goods brands have adapted their digital marketing strategy to celebrate their customers with UGC so that you can apply a similar strategy to your online marketing actions. 

TERNUA: Create a customized shopping journey with UGC

For sustainable outdoor clothing brand, Ternua, their challenge has been not only showcasing a large range of products but demonstrating how effective each is when it comes to outdoor adventures. 

Rock climbing? Mountaineering? Hiking? Skiing? Jogging? Ternua has you covered for all sporting needs. But with such a variety of products, Ternua wanted to demonstrate that the brand was the best choice by showing that their products are thought of as reliable and practical.

So the brand encouraged real customers to share pictures from their outdoor experiences so that they could proudly showcase these photos on their website, displaying a plethora of products in the process. The perks of this are that Ternua can show off their product catalogue in action, as their adventurous customers prove the suitability of the products in all terrains. Nothing is more convincing than seeing a product being used by real people in real situations. 

“We’re a sustainable outdoor brand, but inside of that concept we touch a lot of distinct targets. For example, people that are interested in sports that are more technical like rock climbing and mountaineering, as well as those that enjoy hiking in the mountains or just the use of outdoor style in the city. We’ve made use of the Flowbox Collections so that each target can find the User Generated Content that best fits and tells the story of their specific outdoor passion.”

Asier Balza – Digital Marketing Manager at Ternua Group 

Their UGC strategy was a proven success for Ternua: Asier Balza, Digital Marketing Manager at Ternua Group, reports that without it “only a small part of our content library would reach our customers, bringing with it a consequent loss of business.” And the figures really speak for themselves: Ternua has experienced a 17.19% conversion rate increase and a 6.16% interaction rate increase since integrating UGC.  

While customization is a huge part of the online buying experience today, there’s another aspect of shopping online that can really funnel customers to purchase. And that is the power of social proof. 

OSPREY: Leverage visual social proof to increase conversions

At the end of the day, people like to know that a brand is popular and trendy before they invest in their products. So it’s important for online brands to demonstrate their likability and popularity in the market by sharing social proof throughout their online buying journey.  

When a customer speaks highly of your brand, what they’re sharing is their stamp of approval – or social proof – that you product is worthy of purchase. And UGC is an effective strategy for building social proof by showcasing how much everyone loves your brand without having to say it yourself. 

Outdoor clothing brand OSPREY, known for its high quality, sustainable backpacks, also works with an authentic UGC strategy. In order to gather high-quality content to be used in their digital marketing elements, they encouraged customers to share photos of themselves wearing OSPREY products using the hashtag #OSPREYEUROPE

With the help of Flowbox, these photos have been seamlessly integrated onto their website as a gallery of hundreds of stunning photos.

So now when people browse OSPREY’s site, they’ll want to join the team of people using these amazing products, having awesome outdoor adventures! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that clan?

What’s more, potential customers will see that experienced outdoor enthusiasts rely on OSPREY products. This generates brand trust as they can see happy customers proving that the OSPREY backpacks support people through adventures and beyond.  

So don’t hesitate to make the most of social media and encourage your customers to post pictures using your hashtag. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole collection of photos on your website that tell the real life stories of your happy customers through the visual power of social proof. 

Maybe you’re excited by this idea but are concerned that your products are too niche. In the next section, we will look at how niche sports brands can widened their customer base by showing that their specialist products are suitable for everyone. 

fizik: Use your niche to build a wider community

As a sports brand, it’s important to tailor your marketing strategy to engage with both new and existing customers. But this can be a struggle if your potential audience is quite narrow. 

For example, fizik, an international high-performance cycling brand, holds a niche position in the market. They felt it was time to shift their marketing strategy up a gear. Sounds difficult? Think again!

While professional athletes use their products, they also market to leisure riders and were looking for a way to reach the everyday consumer. So they decided to use the excitement of professional riders to inspire leisure riders into following the brand. 

Since their professional customers loved posting images and videos using fizik products on social media, they decided to collect this content and integrate into carousels into their eCommerce site, providing an authentic view of their niche products in action.

“We realized that we wanted to show our customers how to use our products – even if you are not a pro-athlete – so we wanted to highlight everyday cyclists. Seeing a product used by another person is very helpful.”

Enrico Grando – eCommerce & Digital Manager at fizik

The platform was an all around success, leading to an 11.9% increase in conversion rate. Moreover, this strategy has helped them engage with the everyday consumer and compete with others within their niche. This meant that they achieved their goal of widening their community and therefore increased the brand’s longevity.

Once you’ve built a wide community of loyal brands fans, you can also use this strategy to celebrate them!

Lazer Sport: Commemorate your brand and its loyal customers

Keeping in the world of cycling, heritage helmet brand, Lazer Sport, wanted to commemorate their one hundredth anniversary through a marketing strategy focused on UGC.

In order to commemorate a full century of happy customers, the brand gathered UGC from the past and used the Flowbox platform to create an engaging display of their products.  All of this enabled them to celebrate their sensational achievement, as well as honor the loyal customers that made it happen. 

“The gallery element is really cool because we have this dedicated page where people can learn more about the 100 year celebration. Then, at the bottom you see the gallery with all of the social media content that has been generated and has been curated, of course. And it shows our truly historic heritage and identity of our brand.”

Nico Dierickx – Online Marketer at Lazer Sport

Since the end of the centennial year, Lazer Sport have adapted their strategy by creating a ‘Stories’ section on their website to share the success and adventures of their customers who use their products. You can read more about how they successfully memorialize their heritage by celebrating strong customer relationships from over a century. 

Embracing User Generated Content as a sports brand

As you can see by these 4 sports brands, User Generated Content is a winning strategy for standing out in a competitive sector.

Through integrating this digital marketing strategy, you can engage with your customers, inspiring them to purchase your products and establishing your brand’s longevity by celebrating your loyal customers.

With such a simple strategy its time for you to try it yourself. And we’re here to help!

With Flowbox’s User Generated Content platform, you can easily collect, manage, publish and analyze your customer content for a truly killer strategy. With so many key benefits, it’s really a no-brainer for sports brands. Learn more about our solution here!