The push for companies to reach lifestyle brand status has impacted most aspiring CPG industry disruptors in a big way. Why settle for a customer that uses your product once just to forget about you if, with some increased marketing focus, you could develop a bigger following who aligns with your brand in everything from social justice, to design philosophy, to ethical beliefs? As many companies aspire to reach these lofty goals, lifestyle brands quickly rise to become the gold standard.
For more on how lifestyle brands are breaking out in 2018, check out this episode of our podcast, the Repsly Powercast, where we interview two brand founders using content and experiential marketing to disrupt their industries and grow faster!
1. Learn to Speak to a Niche Audience
Finding a core group of supporters that aligns with and individualizes a specific brand is a defining feature of lifestyle brands. Find a group of people that identify with your brand. Once you zero in on these people, stick with them. This strategy works. As you personalize your marketing strategy, your target audience will respond to direct attention from your brand.
Sour Patch Kids, the iconic sour-then-sweet candy, has an undeniable foothold in the gummy market. Sour Patch maintains a unique marketing design with two core audience groups separated across multiple social media platforms. On the surface level, (and prominently represented on the main @sourpatch Twitter and Instagram handles), most people familiar with the brand will think of young children on Halloween or teens at the movie theater. Although Sour Patch Kids products dominate the younger demographic, diving a little deeper into social media reveals they don’t stop there.
In 2014 Sour Patch Kids opened their first communal house. Called the Brooklyn Patch, this original public relations product turned marketing scheme provides a temporary place to stay for emerging musicians who are in town to record or play a concert while on tour. Since the debut of their first Patch, two more have opened in Austin, Texas and Hollywood, California, and the idea’s following has grown substantially.
The marketing design for these temporary creative housing solutions is founded in the idea that young emerging musical artists are:
- Familiar with Sour Patch Kids and have fond memories of the brand from their childhoods
- Active on social media and will say “thank you” to Sour Patch Kids by sharing photos and vocally detailing their good experience with the brand online
- Followed by an active fan base of more young adults who look up to indie musicians and will become more interested in Sour Patch Kids after seeing their idols appreciating the product
The development of the Brooklyn Patch has allowed Sour Patch to expand their brand to the edges of the music industry and align their brand with hip new attitudes and modernist interior design.
Sour Patch Kids align with this young and indie audience in other ways as well, such as through creating a gummy product that lacks gelatin, an animal-based ingredient found in most comparable candy products. The absence of this ingredient makes Sour Patch Kids more marketable to vegans and vegetarians, a demographic that composes a sizable portion of their their target niche market.
2. Build a Devoted Following
Once you find your ideal audience, win them over in a big way. By showing a target group that you share the same values and goals that they do, and then delivering specific ways a person can achieve their goals, your target audience will be hooked. The completion of this tricky transition is a defining element of successful lifestyle brands, and it formulates a more connected and engaged relationship with consumers.
Milk Makeup is only two years old (founded in 2016), and the goals of the company align almost perfectly with the goals of its biggest fans. Reaching out to a more diverse audience than the traditional makeup company, Milk Makeup is designed to provide perfect products for all genders, skin tones, and ages.
Because this audience is so broad, identifying specific goals might seem difficult. Milk Makeup overcomes this challenge by pouring passion (and compassion) in to their cruelty-free and eco-friendly products. By intentionally selecting ingredients for their products, makeup lovers everywhere rejoice and begin to jump on the Milk Makeup bandwagon.
To further build audience support, 2017 brought the release of Milk Makeup's online editorial publication, Vibes. Prominently displayed on the Milk Makeup homepage, Vibes features articles covering topics ranging ranging from makeup to people to life (and more).
Articles featured in the “Life” category perfectly represent Milk Makeup’s push to establish itself as a lifestyle brand. With topics covering everything from basketball hanging planters to ethically-sourced underwear, there really is no topic that's off limits - just as long as it aligns with the cool and edgy design that is business as usual for the company (and its niche audience).
By generating editorial content that applies to an established fan base, Milk Makeup’s marketing campaign strategy is the definition of lifestyle brand material. Milk Makeup connects its audience to other like-minded creators in order to spread a sustainable and ethical message across its entire platform, and this cohesive spirit allows consumers to fulfil their goals and connect with brands on a deeper level.
3. Connect with Like-Minded Brands
A lifestyle brand benefits from teaming up with like-minded companies functioning in different industries. Although lifestyle brands aim to embody the way their consumers live, the consumers of a specific brand will often use similar products. If partnerships between cohesive products can be formed by the brands themselves, both companies will benefit.
Zipcar, the hip version of a traditional rental car, is available to anyone over 18 and features the option of a membership card that advertises an eco-friendly alternative to car ownership along with savings of approximately $600 dollars per month when compared to the average costs of owning a traditional car. Even with these benefits, marketing a rental car-esque business design to millennials mandates some creativity.
Zipcar’s social media mastery fills this marketing void. By incorporating the idea of Zipcar living into each of their Instagram posts, the brand transforms the use of its product into a trend.
According to regional community market manager Chis Moulding, Zipcar is on the mission “to make cities better places to live.” This mission statement reflects the goals shared by the niche market of millennials who value cost-effective mobility and transportation. Many individuals in this group focus on making their world in general a better place to live, so a brand focused on aiding these improvements should resonate with them.
In this case, talk is cheap. Even though one of Zipcar’s missions focuses on urban improvement, partnering with another brand to enact this change will gather more like-minded individuals and prove that they’re serious about their beliefs and goals as a company.
In 2014, Zipcar publicized their partnership with Brooklyn Public Library. In 2016, they expanded this partnership to include 9 branches. Through their agreement, BPL cardholders receive Zipcar discounts, and the revenue Zipcar pays for parking spaces at the library's goes directly towards programs designed to help New York City. Through providing support for classes like art and music for adults, immigrant justice, and STEM for children at the libraries, it is a win-win for BPL and Zipcar.
This is a productive partnership that truly reflects what it means to identify as a lifestyle brand. Through connecting fan bases, both brands were able to expand their mission to include new industries all together. Even though zipcar and the BPL appear unrelated, they have similar goals. These similarities breed the ability to gather like-minded and passionate individuals.
4. Incorporate Your Product into Different Aspects of Customers' Lives
Most lifestyle brand critics don’t believe that it’s possible or productive to integrate one product into every aspect of the lives of consumers. Even so, when disruptors reach this ambitious goal and achieve the coveted lifestyle brand status, they are rewarded by more memorable consumer-generated content and more recognition.
In 2015, Under Armour made big strides in its mission to become a lifestyle brand in the athletic apparel industry by buying the fitness apps MyFitnessPal and Endomondo. These acquisitions puts quantitative data behind the activity performed by these 100 million mobile app subscribers.
Because these new purchases funnel the company directly into the tech sector, Under Armour’s products become synonymous to healthy living through the constant use of popular fitness apps. When someone uses an Under Armour-sponsored fitness app, they gradually begin to associate small things, such as the challenge of healthy workplace snacking, with everyday fitness and Under Armour.
In many ways, people’s level of physical activity defines the way they live. If a company can infiltrate this sector of private life, they have successfully connected their brand with an important facet of life for people from every background imaginable.
As lifestyle brands continue to become exponentially more popular, emerging brands are beginning to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Although it doesn’t make sense for everyone, the ability for brands to build relationships with their customers in terms of interests, beliefs, and aesthetics adds personalized touches to everyday shopping. Integrating your product into multiple aspects of the lives of a niche audience will put your brand well on the way to achieving the coveted lifestyle brand status.