Tracksmith launches Hare AC … Sports brands lead the way in building communities of people sharing passions

December 28, 2018

Tracksmith, the Boston-based retro running clothing brand with a devoted following, recently launched its Hare A.C. running club.

Membership is priced at $128 annually and includes not just a free racing vest, early access to major launches, and exclusive lines, but also in-person perks, like invites to pop-up events around the country, that will likely further build a sense of community around the brand.

“We heard feedback that people who have been fans of the brand for a long time were looking for ways to engage with us more and go even deeper with Tracksmith,” said Matt Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Tracksmith.

Of course you could just drop into the brand’s new Track House at 25 Newbury Street in Boston:

Nike revamped its membership program, too. As an active runner, I have long worn Nike. With the app on my Apple Watch, the concept of getting discounts to the online store, to uniquely reward myself for a great workout certainly appeals.

Exclusive editions of shoes and clothing is an additional benefit to members, as is the free postage and returns from the store.

Nike chose to go down the free route (this could change, pending on the success of other sports brands’ programs). The membership now includes partnerships with Classpass and Headspace.

Lululemon, the yoga wear brand, also tested a loyalty program in Canada last year: For $128 Canadian Dollars ($96.55 in U.S. dollars) annually, devotees received, among other things, a pair of leggings or shorts, as well as free classes and free shipping.

The pilot program was so successful, the brand announced on a sales call, that it plans to expand it to Lululemon’s other markets, likely with a fee increase.

Rapha, the cycling brand, with stores around the world dubbed Cycle Clubs has long set the trend in sports branded communities. Simon Mottram’s famously opened his first store for cycling enthusiasts in London’s Covent Garden.

Yes they could buy his ultra-premium cycle gear, and soon after access a range of services such as cycle repairs to route planning,  but most important was the coffee shop. Here people could chat, watch the current events on big screens, and plan their next rides.

Soon it became a meeting point to start or end rides, and the club started to journey across the world too. Now in over 50 global cities, Rapha Cycle Clubs are the mecca of “middle aged men in Lycra” everywhere.

The physical locations mattered, it was a place people could meet, could start and end their rides, and of course buy Rapha products too. But online resources sustained the community everyday, with movies to inspire you, chat forums to connect you, and tools to measure you.

“A global community needs to keep in touch. Rapha’s digital platforms have been created to ensure you’re always in the loop with rides, events, news and club chatter both within your own chapter and those in other countries.”

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