- Activewear brand Outdoor Voices has launched a storytelling marketing platform that includes a website and magazine for "informing, inspiring and providing an outlet for all things Recreational," according to information provided to sister publication Marketing Dive. The positioning is centered around showcasing the fun in outdoor activities as opposed to focusing on performance.
- The first issue of the magazine, called The Recreationalist, includes an interview with Chip Wilson, founder of athletic apparel retailer Lululemon, during a hike up the Grouse Grind trail in Vancouver; a guide to Mexico City, and a profile of artist/restaurant owner Folasade Adeoso.
- The magazine's content also includes product recommendations, playlists, city guides, plus there's a community centered around Instagram hashtag #DoingThings. The magazine will be distributed in print and digital formats, included in all online orders and available at Outdoor Voices stores.
Outdoor Voices' effort to build a community around people who enjoy outdoor activities follows a trend among some brands to distinguish themselves as a lifestyle companion or community, rather than just a provider of goods. Such lifestyle marketing is often seen by marketers as a way to attract customers who are passionate about a brand and more likely to talk it up to others.
At the same time, Outdoor Voices wants to differentiate itself with a focus on the enjoyable aspects of outdoor activity as opposed to the performance angle embraced by some of its competitors, like Nike. Overall, the activewear market continues to grow as consumers adapt healthier lifestyles, attracting a number of marketers to the space, including Under Armour, Lululemon and others.
The focus on storytelling could help the brand generate content from users that is likely to be seen as more genuine that brand-generated content in an effort to address how consumers are looking for authenticity from brands they do business with. In a letter accompanying the launch of The Recreationalist, Outdoor Voices' Founder and CEO Ty Haney asks users for their stories — and for their friends' stories — about recreation outside. The idea is to create a hub for content, provided both by the brand and its users.
In a similar effort to cast itself as something more than just a retailer, last month outdoor retailer REI retired its print mail order catalog and launched a new print magazine dedicated to outdoor lifestyles. Earlier this week, Staples launched a quarterly magazine to inspire professionals who see their work "as more than just a job," part of its rebranding as "The Worklife Fulfillment Company." And in late 2016, lodging marketplace Airbnb launched its own magazine, in partnership with Hearst.
As these efforts show, the goal of many brands these days is to become a cultural and content hub, a lifestyle brand that supports, encourages and amplifies the values of its customers. In an age when any competitor's product is available with just a few clicks, the creation of a brand that resonates with an irreplaceable personality built around the values of its customers — like, say, Apple or Trader Joe's — is a one way to create a unique niche that can't easily be undersold.