Why Did a Sportswear Brand Gymshark Open A Barbershop

Gymshark opened up a barbershop in London. Some might think, “Why on earth did a sportswear brand do that?” This decision may seem like an unlikely business venture for a different organisation but not for Gymshark.

The British brand’s “Deload” pop-up store will run for seven days in the trendy area of Shoreditch. Their goal is to provide a “non-judgemental safe space” for men to open up to professional mental health-trained barbers. And of course, all the trims are free.

Gymshark new barbershop in Shoreditch

Gymshark didn’t just open a barbershop by themselves; they partnered with Calm, Lions Barbers and Curfew Grooming. All barbers at the salon were trained by 12th Man, which offers free education for businesses and interest groups to help men make mental health part of their everyday conversation.

Inside the salon

In the UK we have a huge problem. CALM’s data shows that 125 people a week die by suicide, and 75% of all U.K suicides are male. That’s 500 people a month, 6,000 people in a year. That’s equivalent to 26 EasyJet aeroplanes!

Fancy a game?

Gymshark wants to support these efforts by running the idea that “weight belongs in your hands, not your head”. That’s why they partnered with CALM to get more men to talk about their mental health. They created the salon for this reason, to help men feel comfortable and open up.

But is it only an offline activity? No, it’s not. If we look at their online offering, we can see that they have been making an effort to create content that adds value and solves a problem.

Gymshark Content Hub

They are not creating content about the product, they are solving a problem with their content and they are showing that they want to go beyond the traditional way of thinking by just talking about how great their product is.

I think this is a great idea for a lot of reasons. They are standing up for a cause that they claim that they care about and a massive issue that we have in our society today. Their content is not just product-focused. They’ve gone beyond creating online content; they’ve gone offline and opened a salon.

Gymshark has a huge marketing and identity concern, but we won’t talk about that in this article. They launched a campaign a couple of months ago called “United We Sweat” which is obviously showing us that they are trying to appeal to everybody. But regardless of their marketing matters, they did a fantastic job creating content that is not product related and are tackling a problem that we are facing in today’s society.

Back to their salon. How will this help them grow as a brand? Well, it will assist them in increasing their brand equity and brand awareness. They can position themselves as a brand that stands up for this particular cause.

What can we learn and what can we take away from this activity? Well, the first thing is that I’m surprised that a barber like Ted Baker Grooming didn’t do it already, as all their clients are male and obviously they have multiple salons around London. I see this as a huge missed opportunity for them. Even a smaller (independent) barbershop could have done it. It’s common sense that whoever does it needs to care about the subject.

If you are thinking about how you can revise your marketing strategy and build your brand equity, I would recommend you think about your brand purpose and content strategy. Decide what your brand purpose is, what do you stand up for, what change your product or service is making and what is a by-product of what you offer. What changes in the lifestyle of your customer are you creating?

Trained Barbers

The best way to do that is to have a helicopter view of your company. When we are in the business, we can’t clearly see what is happening because we are so involved. I know that many will say that they can clearly see everything but that’s just psychology. We can’t. That’s why so often when we are facing a problem and can’t’ find a solution, another person can come in and within five minutes recognise what’s going wrong. The ‘outside’ person is not emotionally involved in the business, is honest and has a helicopter view.

This goes back to brand purpose and building a meaningful brand. With the right brand story you can create campaigns that don’t particularly talk about your product or service but talk about the change you are creating.

Gymshark opened a barbershop in London to help men open up and in return they will increase their brand equity and potentially it will affect their bottom line.

I would love to read your thoughts on what you think of Gymshark’s activity.