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GaiamTV and the Anatomy of a Lifestyle Brand

Posted by Sharmin Kent

February 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Cooking is a labor of love in my family, and it’s one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. But this creates a problem, because I hate exercising. I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns. I've tried a little of everything--dance classes, workout DVD's, video games like Wii Fit--but nothing sticks because I end up getting bored or distracted. And since I cook much more often than I exercise, I've gained a few extra curves over the past couple of years.

Luckily for folks like me, fitness is going digital. Video streaming services like Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus have collections of hundreds of fitness videos, decreasing the chance of becoming bored with the same workout routines. And lifestyle brand Gaiam recently staked its claim to wellness in the digital marketplace with the launch of its online network, GaiamTV. It's a site that offers its members premium video content on a wide range of topics related to fitness, personal development and spirituality, and it's gaining momentum.

If you bought your yoga mat at Target, or you picked up a book on ayurvedic diets from Whole Foods, then you're familiar with Gaiam's brand. The company has done an excellent job of becoming a mainstream brand for "conscious" consumers, offering mid-range priced products designed around an Eastern philosophical approach to wellness. GaiamTV was built to encompass the brand's values and principles: sustainability, spirituality, physical wellness and personal growth. For $9.95 a month, subscribers gain access to more than 5000 fitness videos, documentaries and other films. The number and variety of exercise videos available is staggering. Type "morning yoga" into the site's search bar, and you're given 113 possible hits--more than even the most ardent yoga devotee could get through in less than a month or so.

A body of content this vast does a couple of things for Gaiam: It exposes users to another facet of the brand, and it creates a ready-made ecosystem in which customers can purchase and use its products and services. A lifestyle brand is often driven by customer personae, the foundations on which marketing strategies are built. For Gaiam, developing and offering video content serves as just one way to introduce new users to conscious living, as well as the brand-name tools necessary to achieve lifestyle nirvana. For instance: If a customer likes her Gaiam yoga blocks and workout pants, she might love GaiamTV's series of videos by superstar yoga instructor Rodney Yee. And $9.9 is an excellent price point for users who shop regularly at the retail outlets where Gaiam products can be found.

The best and perhaps smartest move GaiamTV makes is to silo video content based on preferences. It gives conscious consumers access to all the spiritual and experimental content the online network offers, while users simply searching for a decent collection of dance videos can find what they're looking for without wading through a lot of spiritual jargon. A lifestyle brand is the exact opposite of being all things to all people--but Gaiam does its best to try, reaching out to mainstream audiences that might take a pass on the site's more mystical content.

Offering premium content is just one way to attract and maintain a devoted audience. GaiamTV offers its audience a lifestyle brand that can be mixed and matched, for everything from faith to fitness. And it looks like it's working.

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