Why DTC men’s athleisure Legends Brand is spending less on Instagram marketing

Legends Brand, the direct-to-consumer athleisure brand for men, is increasing its focus on affiliate marketing using celebrities, professional athletes and influencers to help it grow. At the same time, the company has decreased its spend on Instagram — though the platform still accounts for 50% of its marketing spend — which it used and continues to use to get the word out about the brand. 

“At first, our spend was probably 50-50 on Facebook and Instagram,” said Chip Neff, co-founder and CMO of Legends Brand. “As we started to learn the algorithm, our CPAs and our return on ad spend targets, we shifted more toward Instagram. That split was then 85% toward Instagram, 15% toward Facebook. Now, as people have heard about the brand, the affiliates started to grow and we spend less on Instagram than we did from day one.” 

The company has tapped celebrity investors like NBA veteran Steve Nash and Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield as ambassadors. 

The company also uses influencers with smaller followings, anywhere from 15,000 to 300,000, to bolster the brand. “Sometimes those conversions [from the guys with a smaller following] are a lot more powerful than some of the bigger athletes,” said Neff. “Sometimes you just don’t see the return you would expect from [big celebrities]. Their audience is so big, but it doesn’t mean they convert at a big number. That’s why we do both. It’s like a brand awareness play versus an actual ROAS goal.” 

Legends Brand, initially a socks company, pushed into apparel in July 2018. Over the last year, it has spent roughly “seven figures” in marketing dollars and in the next year it plans to spend three times that, according to Neff, who declined to reveal the company’s exact ad spend. Neff did say that the company will spend anywhere from $5,000 a day to $15,000 a day on marketing, depending on the day. 

Aside from the roughly 50% of the marketing spend devoted to Instagram, Legends Brand allocates approximately 10%-15% of its dollars for Facebook, 20% for affiliate marketing, 15% for email marketing. 

Focusing on Instagram for discovery and brand recognition makes sense to DTC expert and investor Nik Sharma, who added that there’s more inventory on Instagram with Stories to help get the word out. From there, a brand like Legends can retarget consumers who’ve seen their Instagram ads on Facebook, where they may be more likely to actually convert, said Sharma. 

The company uses grassroots events to collect emails of those interested in the brand and then uses those emails to retarget potential consumers. Events can also generate content for digital channels; Legends Brands hosted a celebrity basketball game earlier this year with celebrities like 2 Chainz, Quavo, Floyd Mayweather and more, which was streamed on Twitch. 

Earlier this spring, the company debuted its first pop-up store in Manhattan Beach. Neff expects pop-up stores to be a bigger focus for the brand going forward as he believes it’s important for consumers to be able to touch and feel the product. Next year, Legends Brand also plans to roll out partnerships with gyms and trainers. 

Currently, the company handles all of its marketing in-house. That said, the company is currently running a test with a media agency and in conversation with a few others as it’s deciding whether to keep marketing in-house or work with agencies. (It declined to name the media agency it is testing.) “It’s always nice to keep it in-house so you can control the spend,” said Neff. “When it’s your money that you’re spending, you obviously care more about it than the agency does because it’s your own personal money.”


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