Consumers are demanding more not only from products, but from businesses as a whole. In October 2013, the Business Development Bank of Canada released a report outlining a number of emerging consumer trends, it found that:

  • 47% of consumers conduct an online search before buying.
  • 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.
  • 33% are willing to pay more for a “healthy” product.
  • 1 in 3 consumers would pay 15% more for an ethically-made product.
  • 2 of 3 consumers say the main factor in a purchase is cost.

Consumers are smarter, more demanding and better equipped than ever before, and now they operate in a marketplace that has more options than ever before. This changing landscape poses many challenges for brands that want to remain relevant as consumer behaviours rapidly evolve. One courageous start-up has recognized the needs of modern consumers and are, quite literally, building their businesses in their customers’ image.

Consumers are smarter, more demanding and better equipped than ever before, and now they operate in a marketplace that has more options than ever before.

Enter Tribesports: moving from enthusiasts to stakeholders

In 2011, a small but focused group of sports enthusiasts started a social network dedicated to health and sports. The network leverages the sizeable community of sports enthusiasts from around the world, in order to motivate, celebrate and educate one another, in their chosen sports. Upon registration, new users can join “tribes” of people that share activity or training goal interests, once apart of a tribe, users can give and receive support or advice. Moreover, users can post challenges and achievements to be completed offline, yet celebrated online.

A commonly discussed challenge in the sporting community was the cost of quality performance clothing. The founders saw this as an opportunity to do something truly visionary, in alignment with the spirit of their brand. In 2013, Tribesports began designing and manufacturing technical sports clothing not just for their community, but with their community as primary stakeholders. They kicked off the venture with a crowdsourced kick-starter campaign that raised 3.5 times the needed capital to start production.

Co-creation at its finest

With capital in place they delivered on their promise of superior quality and increased value, compared to competitors. They operate with complete transparency in regards to their design, production and manufacturing processes and always comply to the opinions of their “tribes”. One year later, Tribesports is continuing to co-create by expanding their clothing lines in a non-conventional manner. Rather than simply polling for preference, they have actually challenged their tribes to complete challenges to unlock different production lines. This processes engages customers in an interactive design process that allows them to collect meaningful feedback.

Rather than simply polling for preference, they have actually challenged their tribes to complete challenges to unlock different production lines. This processes engages customers in an interactive design process that allows them to collect meaningful feedback.

Tribesports

In addition to challenging users to exercise to unlock design options for the apparel, they also invite members of the tribe to “sweat and save”, where physical commitment to the community earns customers discounts towards their purchases. This type of program is taking co-creation to the next level, giving customers a unique sense of ownership over the brand.

From co-creators to cult followers

It has been seen time and time again, as described in the Anatomy of a Cult Brand, that brands need to “be involved”, those that actually interact with customers in meaningful ways reap the benefit of a highly engaged and caring audience. The idea of “being involved” in today’s market place is no longer a nice addition to a business model, but rather, a necessity. This doesn’t simply mean conversing with customers once and a while but rather listening, and taking into account, their knowledge, opinions, and needs. Tribesports has managed to build their brand through consistently seeking and actually listening to feedback, while celebrating customer participation in new and innovative ways.

The idea of “being involved” in today’s market place is no longer a nice addition to a business model, but rather, a necessity.

Although Tribesports is still in its infancy compared to their competition, they have managed to break into a highly competitive market with nothing more then the support of loyal advocates, all while bringing value that marketplace leaders like have yet to match. They are setting standards for an industry with inflated price points, and redefining the value associated with clothing. I applaud and encourage this attitude and leadership, Tribesports is an excellent example of a brand that is making a massive impact with a minimal marketing spend — one of the numerous benefits to being a cult brand.