It’s all part of a plan to dominate the social conversation. Whether it’s one of the million followers on Instagram, or the celebrity fans rocking the studio-to-street look, Alo Yoga creates irresistible word-of-mouth by flooding your feeds.
Let’s see how Alo Yoga gets people talking with their Owned, Earned, and Paid channels, with an example of how they used all three in concert to create an incredible campaign.
What are the Owned, Earned, and Paid Channels?
A useful framework to think about marketing and branding is to view channels as Owned, Earned, or Paid:
Owned: Media posted on channels you own, like your brand’s website, blog, social media accounts and email newsletters sent
Earned: Media posted on channels you don’t own by others, in the form of reviews, social shares, mentions, or reposts.
Paid: Media you pay for, in the form of display ads, retargeting, and paid influencers/affiliates
A common misconception is that content marketing only delivers on Owned channels. As we’ll see, Alo Yoga effectively creates content over all three channels. We’re going to focus mainly on how Alo Yoga dominates the conversation on Instagram, but also pull in details from other platforms.
OWNED: How Alo Yoga grows the brand without losing its core identity
One of the earlier successes of the athleisure movement is Lululemon, an activewear brand that has expanded beyond yoga leggings to many different market segments.
When you check out @lululemon on Instagram, though, it feels like it’s trying to be too many things to too many people.
To me, the posts lack a consistent theme. Based on these six posts -- a mixture of ads, a random meme, and a sponsored athlete -- can you describe the average Lululemon customer? It feels like it’s addressing too broad an audience.
Now, take a look at the @aloyoga feed, and describe their average customer:
There’s a diversity of body types (which I appreciate) but the message here is clear: Alo Yoga is for people who do yoga. The brand has a clear customer focus on social media.
Alo Yoga began as a small Los Angeles brand focused on yoga outfits. As the brand evolved, it started moving into fashion, but even the ‘studio-to-street’ tagline came later, around 2018.
The core identity of the brand is about yoga, and from 2016 to 2018, the brand focused on building its yoga credentials by partnering with and featuring yoga pros like @SjanaElise, @AshleyGalvinYoga, and @DylanWernerYoga.
Like top athletes for Nike, these yoga influencers are respected in the yoga community and lend credibility to the brand.
Another way that the brand reaches out to yoga professionals is its Pro Program, where certified professional instructors receive a hefty 25% discount on Alo Yoga products. This is an appeal to the Authority principle of influence: if the yoga instructors are all wearing Alo Yoga, you know the brand is trusted by pros.
According to CEO Danny Harris, all this is part of the brand’s mindful marketing. Alo Yoga differentiates itself from other generic athleisure brands; you wear Alo Yoga because you do yoga.
The brand puts out content that caters to yoga lovers. If you go to Alo Yoga’s YouTube channel, you can watch follow-along videos of yoga lessons. On International Yoga Day, you could tune in to the Alo Yoga Livestream, which featured 12 hours of content around yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and music.
Even when the brand ran “Alo House” - a festival that featured plenty of celebrities and famous people - the content stayed on message. Instead of people partying and drinking, all the pictures were framed to portray a healthy, wholesome image centered around fitness and yoga:
On its primary and biggest Instagram account, @aloyoga keeps it about yoga and sends a consistent brand message.
But what happens when a brand wants to diversify into separate products?
Sub-brands cater specific content for audiences
CEO Danny Harris explained in an interview that Alo Yoga wasn’t just a fashion brand, but ‘a destination for well-being’. That allowed the brand to grow under separate sub-brands (under the larger ‘Alo’ umbrella), with each being given its space to breathe - rather than clumping it all together under one account like Lululemon.
Want to learn yoga? You should follow @alomoves to get helpful tips for beginners and live-streamed lessons with yoga instructors.
Love skincare? Check out @alowellness_ for beauty tutorials, self-care routines, and more.
Across all of Alo’s owned channels, the brand is presented as a healthy, wholesome, mindful brand that’s easy to like and uncontroversial. But each feed is carefully curated to deliver content that addresses a specific audience, without feeling too broad or confusing, like Lululemon’s feed.
The brand has managed to grow and diversify its product line, without diluting its core yoga credentials, and that’s something I find very impressive. And it’s not just me - many celebrities and influencers are big fans of Alo Yoga, and wear it as part of their day-to-day athleisure.
Between them, these four represent almost half a billion Instagram followers. Via aloyoga.com
On the one hand, it’s a great endorsement of the brand’s studio-to-street aesthetic. On the other hand, none of them are doing yoga. Posting these pictures on @aloyoga would dilute the brand’s core yoga identity.
The brand’s solution was to create a separate account, @alo, that focuses on the customer segment who are into fashion, influencers, and celebrity culture.
@Alo focuses on the celebrities and features user-generated content
The idea behind audience segmentation is to deliver content that’s personalized to each audience member. By splitting up the content, the brand gets the best of both worlds:
@aloyoga retains its authenticity and yoga credentials, while @alo is free to brag about all the fashionable, famous people wearing Alo Yoga.
Here’s the @alo feed. The six most recent images all feature celebrities - fashion models, a musician, an actress, and a stylist - with 6 million Instagram followers in total. That’s a lot of star power. Wouldn’t it be cool if you wore the same outfit?
This is true of @alo on other weeks as well
Let’s say you were one of @CharlyJordan’s 5 million Instagram followers. You might have seen the picture first, and thought that the outfit was cute.
A month later, you might see the same picture reposted on @alo. @Alo doesn’t create new content, but only curates reposts of celebrities posting in Alo Yoga apparel. It’s a combination of influencer marketing and user-generated content.
Having seen the outfit twice, your curiosity might be piqued; you might wonder where to get the outfit. Luckily, the top search result for ‘Charly Jordan Alo Yoga’ brings you to this product landing page, featuring every Instagram post she’s made wearing Alo - and a helpful BUY NOW button.
@Alo caters to a different segment of customers, who follow the account because of the fashionable looks and the celebrities being featured. Knowing this, the Alo Yoga team makes sure to use the celebrity content on their shopping website as well.
Charly Jordan’s 5 million followers have their own dedicated shopping pages if they want to copy her look, and the same formula is applied to the other celebrities Alo Yoga works with.
And whenever a celebrity posts wearing @aloyoga, it’s featured as a ‘style inspiration’ on the relevant product page. This is a formula we’ve seen before: much like how yoga pros wear @aloyoga, and stylish, famous people wear @alo.
Why don’t you style your new piece like these cool people?
Alo Yoga is also many things to many people - but it does so effectively by segmenting its content efforts. @aloyoga keeps the core brand promise of yoga, @alomoves and @alowellness_ help diversify the brand into new products, and @alo gains studio-to-street cred by showcasing celebrity fits.
Choose your own adventure
TAKEAWAYS: What you can do with your owned channels
Establish a clear vision for your brand
Be consistent with what you post and avoid diluting your brand
Create different content for different customer segments
EARNED: How Alo Yoga earns hashtags and headlines
Owned media is about the way you present yourself; earned media is what other people say about you. And Alo Yoga has carefully crafted a situation where celebrities and customers reinforce the brand’s wholesome, healthy image.
If you check out the posts tagged #aloyoga on Instagram - most of them are just from regular people, who want to be part of the community.
People want to be associated with Alo Yoga!
Because of their brand-building, people already want to be associated with Alo Yoga. But the brand takes it up a notch with challenges and hashtags.
Alo Challenge for Instagram to encourage posting
Alo builds a tribe by re-creating the social experience of going to a yoga class on Instagram. At a yoga class, you have teachers, you have poses, and you have a couple of friends - and that’s exactly what happens with the alo challenges.
Ranking from one week to ten days, Alo creates and curates hashtagged theme challenges. Each challenge features five ‘hosts’, yoga teachers who share poses every day of the challenge.
One such ‘flyer’ for the challenge
To participate in the challenge, there are rules: post every day, use the custom hashtag, and tag all hosts, sponsors, and a couple of your friends.
There are no prizes, you don’t win anything - it’s just a personal challenge. But it recreates the community aspect of a yoga class. The hashtag helps you see others trying the challenge, you tag your friends, and can get them to try it too.
Each hashtag generates hundreds of posts from engaged users - perhaps the best endorsement is inspiring copycat challenges with similar rules. The overall effect is to flood users’ feeds with #AloGoodbyeSummer and have friends get tagged in posts.
And speaking of community outreach, Alo Yoga also runs a referral program.
Alo Yoga runs a referral program
Alo Yoga also creates community word-of-mouth by running a referral program. We’ve covered Alo Yoga's referral program before, but it’s a great way for the brand to encourage customers to tell their friends about a brand you love.
The referral program also serves as a reward for the yoga teachers participating in the weekly challenges. Here’s one of the hosts of the challenge sharing her referral program link:
Much like with @charlyjordan, situations like this help earn the brand a new audience from a celebrity’s fans. Check out this headline; “Alo Yoga” is an afterthought to “Hailey Bieber wears these”, and yet the brand still gets publicity and a write-up:
At this stage, I should state that I can’t find any information about whether Alo Yoga has a financial relationship with certain celebrities, or whether these were stories planted by public relations agencies.
Even so, the headlines feel organic and earned, because it’s not Alo Yoga telling you they are trendy - it’s celebrities showing you how they style it.
TAKEAWAYS: What you can do to earn media mentions
Run challenges or customer features
Offer incentives for referrals and word-of-mouth
Feature user-generated content, especially if the user has a big number of followers. You might be able to borrow their following.
PAID: How Alo Yoga amplifies its brand with paid
The Paid channels are pretty broad, and cover everything from display ads to retargeting, sponsored content and endorsement deals, and affiliate marketing.
(For brevity’s sake, we won’t dive into Alo Yoga’s affiliate program - for an example of a successful affiliate marketing program, check out our feature on Gymshark Athletes instead:)
Instead, we’re going to focus on how Alo Yoga grows the brand by investing in partnerships with the right brands.
Shrewd #collabs with Influencers
Over the summer, the brand launched a collaboration with popular swimwear brand Frankie’s Bikinis instead of launching their own swimwear brand. CEO Danny Harris offered an incisive explanation:
“When our customer is not wearing Alo and she’s on the beach, she’s wearing Frankies. So we couldn’t have thought of a better swimwear brand to collaborate with.
“And we really believe, to get your beach body or to get back in shape for summer, everyone’s wearing Alo. It’s just a natural progression to have Alo bathing suits as well.”
The brand meets the customers where they are. We’ve seen how @aloyoga caters to yoga-lovers, and @alo focuses on fashion. Partnering with Frankie’s Bikinis - a brand that Alo Yoga customers are already wearing - is a no-brainer, and a win for all parties involved.
The brand also used paid display ads to amplify the Frankies Bikinis collaboration: