Since launching in 2015, digital-native footwear brand Nobull has grown its business by catering directly to the consumer and cultivating a dedicated following among hard-core athletes, especially those in the CrossFit community.
In recent years, however, more and more athletic giants – namely Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc. – also prioritized their DTC digital channels, making an already competitive landscape all the more challenging.
However, Nobull’s chief marketing officer, Todd Meleney, recently shared with FN the brand’s surprisingly upbeat attitude to the crowded playing field. He also explained his plans to capture a bigger share of the market, while supporting his major customers.
Is Nobull worried about the sudden shift in athletics giants going direct to consumers?
TM: “If traditional brands invest in the infrastructure to buy these types of products online, it helps people become more comfortable buying shoes and clothes online. So in that sense, it’s a good thing for us. Obviously, this gives the consumer more choice. But the more people who are comfortable buying online, the greater the opportunity for all DTC companies.
How do you stay competitive in a more crowded market?
TM: “[The most important thing] as we move from a startup to a more established brand, it’s brand awareness. So we looked at domains to introduce Nobull to new communities to build on the momentum we had. We’ve done this through key partnerships with athletes and groups like the PGA Tour, Life Time Fitness – and others we’ll be announcing over the next two months. This allows Nobull to be present with new audiences that do not depend on the constantly evolving digital ecosystem. And it allows us to celebrate the brand through content, storytelling and on-site activations. I think you can be the smartest digital advertiser in the world, but you’ll only get far if you don’t build authentic roots and build community.
Your origins are in CrossFit. So you walk away?
TM: “We are simply broadening the definition of training. Yes, we started in CrossFit, and CrossFit is an amazing training methodology that we subscribe to. But there’s also sport-specific training — there’s Olympic training, there’s Alpha training with Life Time, there’s personal training. And that’s who our client is. Our client plays golf four days a month and trains five days a week – he’s golfer Nobull. If we can connect with them authentically, we believe they will help share their passion for the brand with their community.
In March 2021, Nobull signed on as title sponsor of the CrossFit Games. How important was that for the brand?
TM: “It had a big impact. CrossFit is very community driven and they have an underdog mentality. And CrossFit is very difficult, so the people who do it take pride and own the mentality of it. Therefore, if they see a brand that believes in this mentality, they can align with it and support it. We’ve had the CrossFit community behind us for quite some time – and even more since last year. We think that’s going to be a big part of the future for us too.