WHY TRIATHLETES WIN THE ACTIVE LIFESTYLE MARKETING RACE
As the concept of active lifestyle permeates all industries, the endurance sports, particularly triathlons, have a special value and role for companies wanting to extend their brands. Here are three examples of elite triathletes mixing professional sports, active lifestyles, and brands.
Just two months into 2016, the new year is shaping up to stay in shape.
More than a fitness or diet fad, integrating an active and fit lifestyle into all that we do – whether at the office or home, in the grocery store or hotel room – is becoming a reality. Different companies from various industries are quickly noticing the opportunities with health-minded consumers and, in turn, creating an active lifestyle space of products, services, and brands.
An active lifestyle, however, is not just running shoes and energy bars.
Look at both the Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile World Congress where the buzz was about connected fitness devices and wearables. Smart sports bras, water bottles, and running shoes that combine fashion, function, hardware, and data tracking were a few stand-out products for the fitness-minded.
A few weeks ago, The New York Times once again published an article profiling successful executives turning to triathlon as their primary sport – and are willing to invest thousands of dollars annually in related gear, training camps, personalized coaching, and race fees. Outdoor apparel maker and eco-friendly Patagonia is quietly launching a new line of mountain bike gear while Canada’s RYU is coming strong into the booming athleisure market.
As the active lifestyle concept expands from a small demographic niche to tens of millions around the world, opportunities are arising for companies to provide value and associate their products and services with this community. Companies are selecting multiple ways to associate their brand and culture with active lifestyle promotion.
At Human Interest Group, our experiences in business development and content marketing for the active lifestyle consumer, however, show that the traditional marketing models don’t always create this association between a brand and promotion of an active lifestyle. In fact, we believe that partnering with the hardest-working athletes – triathletes– is one of the easiest ways for companies to build brand credibility and consumer engagement. It’s about storytelling, authentic content, and an association with the right influencer.
Here are a few examples:
Influencing As Athlete & Coach
Australian professional triathlete Craig “Crowie” Alexander has the distinction of winning the iconic IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, three times, and being the oldest male to achieve that victory. Crowie exemplifies the characteristics of professional endurance athletes that are understood by active lifestylers:
- Dedication to constant improvement
- Genuine humility
- Strong performance delivery on the course
Wanting to boost chocolate milk as a healthy nutritional drink, the Milk Processer Education Program (MilkPEP) turned to the Human Interest Group’s sports management division ProTri for talent suggestions, and “Crowie” was one of the first triathletes who joined the Built With Chocolate Milk campaign. To the everyday athlete, Crowie signaled a new reason to pick up a beverage typically associated with elementary school cafeterias. If a three-time IRONMAN world champ chooses chocolate milk for recovery, an average athlete can easily do the same in their own training. And the strategy is working…and working well: chocolate milk’s go-to status as a nutrient-rich recovery drink has significantly grown in popularity among key demographics.
Crowie further demonstrates how an active professional athlete also maximizes his assets through their influence and credibility off the race course. As an elite athlete who leads his “industry,” Crowie is one of several professional triathletes training and racing today who are organically expanding their influence, and their sponsors’ brands, by coaching age-groupers seeking a premium active lifestyle.
“Crowie is one of several professional triathletes…expanding their influence, and their sponsors’ brands, by coaching”
Crowie’s coaching company Sansego offers triathlon training programs, educational videos, a membership club, personalized coaching, and camps. By virtue of his world champion status, Crowie attracts top CEOs and other C-Suite executives competing in a sport that carries a special cache. As in the boardroom, those executives want to associate with top performers, and professional triathletes are models for discipline, power, and grit that lead to performance excellence.
Building A Global Community, One Athlete At A Time
Last year, Czech native Radka “Rads” Vodickova earned eight podium finishes in races held around the world, from Norway to Thailand by way of China. One of the most active and driven elite professional triathletes racing today, Vodickova has qualities that uniquely generates a global fan base of women: a personality exuding genuine warmth, fluency in four languages, comfort in international travel, and engagement with the local race communities.
Vodickova also proves that female triathlete can train and compete hard plus have a rewarding life outside of the race course. By sharing her lifestyle blended from being a female professional athlete, Vodickova appeals to other women who seek to have an active lifestyle but not at the expense of other valuable parts of their lives. Her social media feeds include pics of determined training and having fun with friends.
“Vodickova also proves that female triathlete can train and compete hard plus have a rewarding life outside of the race course”
This mix of a professional drive and authentic personality make Vodickova an ideal ambassador for Liv, the first cycling brand completely dedicated to the female cyclist with bikes, apparel, and gear. Launched by the cycling leader Giant, Liv fosters a community of active female cyclists through online content, special teams, and social media campaigns by and for women. Vodickova’s participation in Liv’s Try A Tri campaign provides real-world tips for women training and racing in triathlons, sharing her active lifestyle experiences through Liv blogs and other content. This blended lifestyle apparently is working for Vodickova: her 2016 calendar includes 15 races, including the IRONMAN 70.3 World championship this September in Australia.
Winning Through Experiences and Balance
Like many in his Millennial generation, Sam “Appo” Appleton constantly upends expectations. In 2015, Appo claimed six first place spots at competitive long-distance triathlons around the world via the tried-and-true method of smart training and fast racing. During the past months, Appo has been training to defend his titles at some of the toughest IRONMAN 70.3 races this year.
Yet, this up-and-coming triathlon leader approaches his sports career in a much different manner than that of an earlier generation. Appo extensively travels year-round for optimal training conditions and global races, focusing more on developing through experiences than using the newest elite gear. He also commits time to both hardcore training and playing his Xbox, not seeing any conflict between being on the saddle and the couch.
Appo adeptly balances this affinity for technology, nontraditional work, and physical fitness to create a satisfying active lifestyle. As Gen X’ers and Boomers adapt to contemporary concepts of technology, work, and life, Appo and other younger triathletes are thriving as part the 21st-century active lifestyle. They show how fitness is an extension of the Millennial ethic.
“Appo and other younger triathletes are living the 21st-century active lifestyle”
From Race Podium To Lifestyle Platform
Consumer-friendly, health-data tracking devices and other technological advances are adding new colors to the existing layers of marketing, products, and content that make up the active lifestyle landscape. As more people around the world embrace this health-conscious way of life, first-rate triathletes like Crowie, Rads, and Appo are primed to move from podiums to platforms to share their stories. Linking those athletes with companies wanting to associate their brand and culture with active lifestyle promotion will happen more frequently, deepening trust with existing fans and engaging in new markets.