In 2021, the size of the activewear market was 303.4 billion dollars. By 2028, that number is predicted to rise to over 450 billion dollars. The pandemic – and its resulting shift to work-from-home as status quo for many shoppers who previously dressed up for office jobs  – has rapidly accelerated growth in the market, with sales increasing by 84% since April 2020. 

A recent Launchmetrics report identified several key trends within this market including:

  • Sustainability: Shoppers are seeking out brands that focus on eco-friendly, high-quality products.  
  • Diversity and inclusivity: Companies that offer options for a wide range of shapes and sizes are sure to increase sales.
  • Luxury brands: More designers are venturing into the athletic wear industry.
  • Communities: Many companies like Vitality are creating online communities of shoppers who share the same values, such as Vitality Wellness Club.

Stand out from the crowd

With all of this growth, comes a wealth of competition. So how do you stand out and differentiate your brand?

Vitality is a Denver-based athleisure brand specializing in size-inclusive activewear, with a mission to bring inspired athleisure designed for everybody in their pursuit of a purposeful existence. 

“At the company’s conception, athletic apparel offerings were developed for one specific body type, and representation for all people was lacking. We made it our mission to bring representation and empowerment to athletic fashion,” says Steve Dilk, Co-Founder and COO of Vitality. 

The brand provides premium and timeless athleisure wear to the fitness industry offering size ranges XXS-XXXXL, designed to complement all bodies while providing an outlet for creative expression.

Thanks to support from their Shopify Plus ecommerce development agency, Avex, and return management solution, Loop, Vitality has built on the retention of  shoppers throughout the entire purchase journey with three key elements:

  • Customer touchpoints like on-site personalization and positive brand building
  • Weaving sustainability into the entire process of product design, production, and operations
  • Post-purchase strategies, including revenue retention via both their own resale marketplace and through Loop’s solutions for retaining revenue through exchanges

Understanding the Vitality customer journey

“For our customers, our top priority is providing a seamless user experience from top to bottom,” says Audra Shipstad, Customer Experience Manager at Vitality. 

Vitality knows its customers have no shortage of choices for purchasing athletic apparel online – so the brand makes a point of delivering a high-touch, high-quality customer experience every step of the way, including the post-purchase experience.

Personalization and high quality product

Vitally focuses heavily on employing personalization and an omnichannel presence to reach their customers with unique, curated content offers and messaging that help them build brand loyalty. 

“We serve them dynamic products and dynamic content based on their customers’ interest, so their site in general has a higher likelihood to convert because we spend time analyzing user data to understand what customers are interested in,” says Veronica Gelman, Director of Client Services at Avex. “It increases lifetime value and retention rates.”

Providing limited-edition collections makes Vitality athletic wear highly marketable and desirable. Despite the fact that the products sell out quickly – often in a day – customers are willing to wait for more products to be released. This is because they know the items they’re buying will meet their needs and are designed with quality in mind. 

The shift towards sustainability

Understanding your audience and how they shop is key to growth. When it comes to sustainability, a 2021 study found that 85 percent of people have shifted their purchase behavior in the previous five years towards being more sustainable. This trend is growing rapidly

“A major win for us is starting to roll out our sustainability efforts we have been working on over the last year,” says Dilk. “We’re rethinking every piece of the business, from product design, to production, to operations, for opportunities to lighten our environmental impact. From thread to factory to dye to the label itself, we’re on a mission to clean up our corner of the fashion industry.”

Vitality has prioritized researching and partnering with manufacturers that focus on sustainability all the way through their supply chain, and delivering transparency to customers about the environmental impact of their purchases. 

“It’s been a privilege to support Vitality in their sustainability efforts. And it’s been super energizing witnessing them embrace more eco-friendly products and processes. So much so that they’re completely restructuring how they do business,” says Gelman.  

“Today’s customers are a lot more eco-conscious than they’ve ever been before, and that’s creating demand for brands to create sustainability initiatives and partner with solutions that spotlight environmental impact,” says Gelman, citing the example of EcoCart, a solution that empowers customers to donate to make their purchases carbon-neutral.

Another way that Vitality is keeping their sustainability promise is through upgrading their fabric lines to include recycled components starting with their signature fabric line, “The Cloud II™ Line”

The signature fabric line is designed for maximum versatility in a fabric designed for maximum wearability. It’s comprised of the essential building blocks of an athleisure wardrobe in “everywear” colors.

With this release, they also introduced the new Vitality Color System™. It combats the “trend-to-trash” cycle, which happens when new, trendy clothing quickly goes out-of-style and ends up in landfills.

“[With the Vitality Color System,] we’re breaking free of seasonal fads and throwaway styles with families of mix-and-matchable colorways and prints that will not only pair back to previous collections, fabrics, and seasons but also anticipates styles and colorways to come,” says Chloe Chamberlain, Cofounder and Chief of Design.

Optimizing their revenue-generating channels

Working with Avex, Vitality set up two channels to diversify revenue streams and retain more revenue from their product returns, using two different Shopify apps: Loop and Recurate.

Boosting return revenue with Loop

Since switching to Loop in January 2021, Vitality has doubled its retained revenue within the returns sales channel. 

They are able to retain revenue through multiple strategies: 

  • They charge a return handling fee for cash-back returns. 
  • Instant exchanges avoid lost revenue, which also allows customers the ability to have their returns processed as soon as they hit submit. 
  • The “Shop Now” feature provides Vitality’s customers with store credit and bonus credits to shop for alternate items if their original purchase didn’t meet their needs. 

“For our customers, our top priority is providing a seamless user experience from top to bottom,” says Shipstad. “By using Loop’s customization tools, our service team has been able to shift their focus from manual transactions, to prioritizing the customer interactions. Loop adds significant value for our customers so they can continue to have an easy-to-use experience while enjoying the athletic wear they’ve come to know and love.”

Sustainable second-hand with Recurate

One of the most eco-friendly ways to shop is by buying second-hand. The demand for this type of marketplace is growing, and brands are rising to meet this need. 

Avex noticed that customers were selling Vitality’s products on third-party marketplaces. Based on the deep-seated loyalty of their customers, Avex suggested that Vitality offer second-hand products on their website through a resale marketplace using a partner solution, Recurate. From there, Vitality Revitalized was born. Though it is still new, Vitality Revitalized is becoming a successful revenue stream. 

Vitality Revitalized also offers a platform for shoppers to connect with other like-minded people, strengthening their connections within the Vitality community. This also boosts brand awareness, increases customer lifetime value, and improves positive attitudes towards the company. 

Building a full-funnel customer journey

Customer retention strategies are vital to company growth. They can lead to increased revenue and create more loyal customers. 

“The journey doesn’t end when the customer checks out,” says Gelman—so it’s critical to build a model that delivers a seamless user experience all the way from the first touch to the post-purchase experience, factoring in sustainability at every step of the way. 

If you want to learn how Loop can help increase revenue and improve your brand’s sustainability, book a demo today