Since its founding in 2019, astrology app Sanctuary has not only grown its user base but its Instagram following, amassing 1.4 million followers on the platform in that time. That’s helped to attract the attention of brands like Google, Pizza Hut and Spotify, among others, that have partnered with the app to create branded astrology content in Sanctuary’s signature illustrated style for social channels, newsletters, websites and more.
“Brands have really taken note of this interest in astrology that is very widespread among millennial and Gen Z consumers,” said Ross Clark, CEO of Sanctuary, adding that the Sanctuary audience skews heavily female without providing exact figures. “They want to engage and connect with that interest.”
This year, brands like McCormick, Venmo, Away, Benjamin Moore and Le Creuset have worked with Sanctuary to create custom branded content — including matching paint colors, spending habits or cookware to specific astrological signs — that’s then posted on Sanctuary’s Instagram page. The same in-house team, which has roughly 10 people, works on the brand’s content for its social channels as well as on branded content with partners.
Doing so helps maintain its signature voice and visual style, which Clark said is key to the success of its brand partnerships. Last year, Sanctuary secured eight brand partnerships and grew that to 20 partnerships this year — representing a 140% YOY growth.
“We find that brands really want to lean into our voice and illustrated style, lean into the playfulness that we bring to the content in the partnership,” said Clark. “We have ideation sessions with brands where we’re working through ideas. We have an initial conversation to figure out what product or message they want and we’ll come back with a couple ideas in our format.”
The brand partnerships are part of the company’s overall marketing strategy, which is mostly focused on organic content rather than paid advertising placements. It’s unclear how many paid subscribers or users the app has as Clark said Sanctuary does not share subscriber or user figures. Subscribers pay for personalized astrology readings and the cost varies by the length of the reading with 10 and 15 minute readings the most popular.
“By selectively partnering with brands and clients whose audiences overlap in part with our own, we’re able to expand the reach of both brands,” said Clark. “We also custom tailor both content and deployment to maximize reach for campaigns to mutually benefit both our channel and our client’s channel growth.”
Working with well-known brands can “give them more legitimacy” and “helps them stand out as a true brand from all of the astrology meme accounts,” explained an influencer agency exec who works with brands to help them tap into millennial and Gen-Z audiences. They spoke to Digiday anonymously so as to protect those relationships.
Even so, the exec believes the partnerships are likely a “bigger benefit to the brand side to look like they’re in with what Gen Z is interested in.”
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Noah Mallin, chief strategy officer at IMGN Media, echoed that sentiment. “Astrology content is huge for Gen-Z and is highly shareable,” said Mallin. “It’s smart [for brands to partner with them] because they are getting into a space that gets a lot of repeat users and has less brand clutter.”
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