Kayla Itsines: A Marketer’s Dream

Pretty recently I’ve made the life changing decision to put all my lonesome gym equipment to good use in pursuit of perfectly chiseled abs and the ultimate Kim K booty (well maybe not completely Kim K, but getting close ‘cos let’s be honest… that shit cray).

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And who to turn to none other than the all-time Ab Goddess/Workout Queen formally known as Kayla Itsines *cue heavenly music*

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Now, if you’ve never heard of Kayla before ya’ll must be living under a rock because as of today she has over 5 million likes on Facebook and 4.5 million followers on Instagram and still counting.

Kayla is a qualified personal trainer from Adelaide who studied at the Australian Institute of Fitness. After graduating she worked at a “women’s only” personal training centre where alongside her usual PT practices, she began to develop her own set of workouts and nutrition guidelines to help clients who were unsatisfied with their own bodies. On her website she states:

“Before I knew it, I had developed workouts and cardio techniques, mixed with nutrition planning that achieved a certain result: a bikini body confidence… My clients saw amazing results in 12 weeks or sometimes even sooner, and began to tell their friends and spread an amazing positive message. I soon realised that this was becoming bigger than I had imagined, and I needed a way to reach more women..”

And indeed she has. The Kayla Movement is growing every single day (even minutes) as more individuals aspire to live healthier and happier lifestyles.

There are, of course, other fitspo internet sensations (such as Amanda Bisk, Emily Skye and of course the controversial Ashley Bines) who have also secured an online presence with many followers, however, greater success can no doubtedly be attributed to Kayla Itsines and her program.  But how exactly has this movement gained a cult following and become so well-liked?

One word:

 C O M M U N I T Y.

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Community unites. Community brings meaning. Community brings value to those around. This is not only important, but vital to a brand’s business model and strategy if they are to succeed.

According to Dessart, Veloutsou and Morgan-Thomas (2015), engagement with the online community and the brand can translate into increased loyalty, more specifically when there is an exchange of positive experiences, content and information (Vivek et al., 2012).

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Instagram: @kayla_itsines

Indeed, there has been copious amounts of shared experiences and support circulating on various SNS (Facebook and predominately Instagram) through what is known as the “BBG Community”, which is named after Kayla’s popular “Bikini Body Guide”. Many of the followers who actively take part in the program often create BBG-specific accounts to track their progress and to be-friend, support and train with others part of #kaylasarmy.

Despite the movement having originated from Kayla’s Instagram, there are more likes on her Facebook page in contrast. Perhaps due to the nature of Facebook and it’s greater flexibility in providing different forms of content that appeal to the different interests and behaviours of users within the online community. A lil something for errybody. Thanks Oprah. I mean Kayla.

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In an article by Hodis (2015), she describes four distinct segments which provides a framework for how marketer’s can increase consumer engagement (pull rather push strategy):

(1) The Entertainment Chasers – escaping the shackles of their boring, no-good lives. Soz, that escalated quickly.

Plenty of smoothie bowls (much aesthetic), nutrition facts, work-out vids and the occasional feature of her cute pup to keep these peeps entertained.

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(2) The Attention Seekers – those who want it all. 

Part of the BBG Community is built on hashtags, progress shots and account features on behalf of Kayla and many other users. Despite a pursuit that may not even be exactly narcissistic, these peeps have the opportunity to talk about/show off their smokin’ bods and clean eating to the wider online community.

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(3) The Devotees – if the Entertainment and Attention Seekers were to have a lovechild. Dis b it. 

These users may need to go through SNS rehab at some stage in life (just u wait), but their need for high levels of consumption and creation would indeed be satisfied by the amount of community support and involvement – from being able to share and post comments to the many entertainment posts.

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(4)  The Connection Seekers – all for da comunicación.

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Considering the true motivation of connection seekers is to hang out (Hodis, 2015), Kayla’s Boot Camp World Tour gives followers of the community the chance to work out together and socialise on all things fitness. Additionally, the level of involvement from the overall community provides many opportunities to engage and connect with one another.

Despite being a social network platform, Instagram operates predominately as a photo-sharing/video-sharing app. What this means is that although it has also been successful in engaging users through being visually satisfying, it’s functions are in some ways constrained. Users cannot see what events their friends are attending, or how many other users of the public may be also be going. It might also be difficult to target these different segments as Instagram does not present a bundle of various content in the same way as Facebook does and, therefore limiting the users’ selectivity.

Can you guys think of any brands or companies who are great at connecting with their communities? Comment and let me know!

 

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14 thoughts on “Kayla Itsines: A Marketer’s Dream

  1. Hey Nikki, Great content! Loved your thorough case study of Kayla 🙂
    Totally with you on how engagement of online community increases brand loyalty, and also helps with spread of ‘e-word of mouth’ too! It’s Web 2.0, brands who engage with community wins the battle, and brands who bombard shall never succeed…
    Also loved how you show your personality through the blog – that freakish tone when introducing the devotees needed rehab haha 😀
    Your explanation and examples for the four Facebook segments are on point!
    I think Benefit Cosmetics is as well good at engaging the community – check out my case study on Benefit: https://wallflowermarketer.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/top-4-hacks-for-brands-going-digital/ 😉
    Ann

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so glad someone touched on Kayla’s massive online presence! If anyone is unsure of the power of starting out online, just point them towards her page. Your blog has done an a great job of dissecting each type of online consumer – I think I definitely fall into the Entertainment Chaser category…
    ‘Frank Body’ coffee scrub (https://www.instagram.com/frank_bod/?hl=en) is another example of a brand that’s created an online community. They promote using the #letsbefrank to connect everyone and encourage selfies of their users covered in the coffee scrubs. Not that I’m game enough to do that myself!
    Another great post 🙂
    Alie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frank Body is definitely another great example! And their community is only continuing to grow, particularly as a lot of mavens/bloggers are being used as part of their campaigns. Thanks for commenting 🙂
      Nikki

      Like

  3. Wow! Great blog post Nikki! I agree with @Ann your presence within the piece through your narrative was both engaging and funny! Looking back on week 3’s academic reading: “Consumer activity in social media: Managerial approaches to consumers’ social media behavior.” Journal of Consumer Behavior by Heinonen (2011), the notion of why consumers engage in social media is discussed. Having read the article and your blog, I have gained a great understanding of how they do that! Just touching a bit more on the subject of consumer social media behaviour… In 2009 Shao proposed that that people perform a variety of activities online:
    1) Consumption of information and entertainment,
    2) participation in social interaction and community development, and
    3) production of self-expression and self-actualization

    Personally, I think Shao is missing some elements here, perhaps there are some other activities that consumers perform that don’t fit into Shao categories. What do you guys think?

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    1. Hi Noli! I’m glad that my blog has contributed one way or another to your understanding! I feel that Shao’s points perfectly encompass what consumers essentially do online, and of course, these categories distinctly align with each of Hodis’ four segments. If marketers can understand which of their users fit into these categories then they can tailor their information to make it more engaging for the consumer. Thank you for your feedback! 🙂

      Like

  4. Whilst i do want to comment 4 types of the online consumer, i don’t think it is necessary for me since everyone is talking about it. However, i would like to comment regarding Kayla’s choice of marketing: personal and self-improvement. In my opinion, Kayla have targeted what seems to be the current issue with women: “body image”. Considering as Kayla, focuses on attention seekers to develop her brand awareness and loyalty, my question is if Kayla selects individuals through a contest whom is from the connection seekers or devotees sections and collaborated by doing weekly reports on how the individuals are doing each week, do you think this marketing strategy of connecting with your consumer physically and posting weekly reports not just on progress but also communicating with kayla pose a great strategy to motivate personal and self improvement goals in women?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting Elva! 🙂

      I guess it depends on what you mean by “collaborating on weekly reports”. If you mean that as an engagement strategy, Kayla could post Instagram updates of selected clients on a weekly basis, then I question if users may find it a bit too much.

      As a follower myself, although I find it motivating to see progress images of those who are part of the BBG community, part of the reason I follow her is because I also enjoy keeping up to date with Kayla’s own life (i.e. what she may eating, the new pair of nikes she has, pictures of her huskies, videos of her working out etc.), which is actually sometimes already motivating in itself. Posting images of the same selected user on a weekly basis may overshadow some of her other content. In addition, it might not work because I think users enjoy diversity. People may be discouraged from sharing their own progress if they really want to be noticed and appear on her account because they might feel they don’t have a chance against these other users. Either way, if people want to keep up to date with these selected individuals, they’re accounts are always tagged in her posts so users can click or follow them if they want to delve a bit deeper into their lives!

      Nikki

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      1. Ah i see, that is actually a very interesting perspective. Would it be more interesting if Kayla actually went on about her diet life instead of just exercising and her daily life, as we all know diet is an interesting aspect for person to be healthy?

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      2. I don’t think it would be effective to focus only on one aspect of her lifestyle because, as I mentioned, people enjoy content diversity. With that said, it would also be very difficult to separate the three things as they are all part of each other. Healthy eating and regular exercise inform her daily life and vice versa.

        Like

  5. Hey Nikki,
    Thank you for such an interesting and fun blog post. I am glad that you have taken on the topic of the Kayla Empire! I agree that community is such an important part of a brands business model and web 2.0 as pointed out by (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). I think Instagram provides an excellent platform for sharing. Kayla’s “before and after” images of her clients using her program are very effective in engaging the community. I find these images extremely addictive!! The images also enforce her creditability and show that the program works. It is also connected and functions well with her Facebook and Website where you can buy her program and see her events.

    Kayla’s Instagram provides a platform for people to share their experiences on the same weight loss journey through stories and pictures. Users love to have an opinion on these images, and it is a very sensitive topic since these pictures are of bodies. As a frequent Instagram user I have seen many individuals be fat shammed, skinny shammed and food shamed who are involved with Kayla’s Instagram. As well as other similar health and fitness Instagram bloggers. This “community” is ridden with hateful comments, jealously and ignorance. I think this needs to be addressed and further explored. Do you think these people are part of the community?

    I think Kayla’s Facebook has more likes than her Instagram as more people are on Facebook and it reaches a wider community. It is also very easy to like and follow a Facebook page. I agree with you that Facebook offers many different types of content that Instagram cannot not to do to the same extent. I also like the way you have segmented each group with imagery in a very clever entertaining way.

    Resources:
    http://www.brandba.se/blog/2016/4/25/tribal-marketing-what-every-marketer-must-know-about-tribes-in-social-media
    https://stopskinnybashing.wordpress.com/tag/kayla-itsines/
    https://www.sensis.com.au/content/dam/sas/PDFdirectory/Sensis_Social_Media_Report_2015.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Sophie! Thanks for your feedback 🙂

      I definitely agree that the before and after shots is what makes her platform, or “brand” so to speak, highly engaging. When I first stumbled upon one of her posts I thought to myself “oh here we go, another weight loss program that probably doesn’t even work”. Yet, I found myself scrolling through post after post. There is a certain uniqueness about her program that I am drawn to and find more motivational than any other one advertised out there. I think because, as I discussed, it is embedded in such a large community, which continually proves time after time that, “hey this actually works!”. She also has this way of communicating to her audience that fitness is more than just a short-term journey embedded in weight loss and looking skinny, but rather, about getting to that point in life where you are at your strongest and happiest physically, mentally and spiritually. Perhaps it is her own values which align with my own that I find most appealing.

      With all of that in mind and as you said, there are the few minority who choose to inflict their own negativity. I think that whilst these people are not part of her intended community (i.e. target audience), they are an inevitable outcome and therefore, an unfortunate part of the community in a broader sense. Although I think it is important to recognise them, drawing attention and responding to the hatefulness is not healthy and could potentially be damaging. Overall, judging from her posts, many of those who are considered as active members of the community choose to not be affected by it – which is ultimately what it is all about!

      Nikki

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Noli!
    I’d firstly like to thank you for such a fun and engaging blog. I honestly must have been living under a rock because I didn’t know who Kayla Itsines was before reading! – this however could be my own doing as I’ve been locked into a gym membership for the past year or so and want to remain oblivious to the other cheaper and by the looks of it more effective ways to get fit. Once upon a time however, I was very much obsessed with this ‘fitspo’ movement. Ashley Bines was my go to on Instagram, I’d find myself spending hours at a time scrolling through before and after shots in amazement. As a potential consumer of these programmes the first thing I want to know is if they actually work, before committing to such a lifestyle change I need to see results and what better way to feel reassured than actually seeing real people and their progress throughout their journey.
    I find myself being extremely sceptical about all of these new ways to get fit, as most ultimately seem too good to be true. Take the Ab King Pro for example, every infomercial promoting this product only features extremely ripped models demonstrating the machines. This isn’t enough to convince me, I want to see what the people actually think about this product. I normally do this by googling user reviews and more often than not I was right to be hesitant. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, brands like Ab King Pro have a nasty habit of using very extreme examples to show their results. Generally this is done in the form of a before shot featuring an extremely overweight, unhappy person contrasted next to to an after shot of a tanned, attractive person with a six pack (who in most cases looks like a totally different person than the one from the before shot!). To me this is very unrealistic – the thing I love most about Kayla’s approach is that we are able to see real progress, most of those featured on her Instagram still have a fair way to go before achieving their goals, but seeing how far they’ve come in such a short time is much more appealing to me than seeing the most extreme cases as they are not a true reflection of someone’s weight loss journey.
    All of the recognition and support received by those undertaking this challenge makes it that much easier for those who are apprehensive to give it a go. Creating this sense of community is key just as you’ve made abundantly clear.
    Nike is a great example of an organisation that, just like Kayla has benefitted immensely from using social media to create a platform for ‘community’. Their motivating #BetterForIt campaign aims to celebrate women at every stage of their fitness journey. This campaign allowed women not feel intimidated when they work out. #BetterForIt is more than just a hashtag. This campaign is a call to action to share, promote and embrace women’s fitness and sports. Nike invited their global community of athletes to push themselves further, whether it’s a personal best or the latest marathon. #BetterForIt was targeted toward women, but offered all athletes collective inspiration to reach new heights while sharing their experiences.
    Nike’s Better For It campaign was an extremely successful social media campaign, making it a social win. Not only did the kick off, “Inner Thoughts” video have over 8 million views, but it also reached out to millions of women. In their press release, Nike spoke out in regards to the campaign saying that they now have a “digital community of 70 million women who look to the brand when it comes to fitness”. Also, the #BetterForIt hashtag was seen in over 800,000 tweets across the world, ranging from major Olympic champions to every day people.
    As made extremely obvious by my large comment I found your piece very thought provoking and the first thing I’ll be doing once I post this is checking out Kayla’s Instagram!
    -Gab

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gab! Thanks for your comment!
      I too, feel skeptical about these informercials as they are definitely too good to be true. Showing extreme before and after images are not realistic at all which is a great point you made about how Kayla often posts images of users who are still in the journey of reaching their goals. Alongside that, social media and UGC are such powerful tools because they continue to add to its authenticity. Also, great example of the Nike’s “Better for It” social media campaign. Getting fit and leading a healthy lifestyle entails long-term commitment, which stresses the importance of community in offering support and motivation!

      Nikki

      Like

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