How Outdoor Voices Makes the Single-Purchase Model Resemble a Subscription

DTC Retention

(This was originally published as a tweet thread. Follow me for regular DTC insights and brand teardowns). I’ve spent over $300 on Outdoor Voices clothing in the past six months and I wanted to know how they pulled that off. So I did some digging.

The Outdoor Voices retention recipe:

1. Vision & Focus

2. Community-First Mindset

3. The Awe of Experience

It's been reported that Outdoor Voices’ repeat customer rate is insanely high, nearly doubling the average e-commerce site.The brand *almost* feels like a subscription…Our first contributor of this (mainly due to Haney’s dedication) is OV’s clear and consistent brand vision.

1. Vision and Focus

OV separates itself from big players like Nike, Lululemon, and Under Armour by shifting the narrative on fitness.The tagline “doing things” brings a new idea to the fitness world & OV dedicates it’s branding, communications, product line, and every tiny detail to that vision.


OV’s gives its customers permission to be who they are. They don’t have to rise to the level of the brand (Nike’s + elite athletes) or master certain activities (Lululemon + yoga) to enjoy the product.This vision runs through everything they create.Check the difference:


OV is disrupting customers’ expectations of an activewear brand.

The entire OV experience *feels* different. New.

The emphasis on simply “doing things” created a welcoming and enticing place for consumers-- particularly women-- to gravitate towards.

Speaking of welcoming... look at the imagery behind their most recent launch.It really is a brand for *everyone*


That brings me to the second ingredient in Outdoor Voices master retention work:

2. The Community-First Mindset

OV’s dedication to building a community around their brand may singlehandedly explain their success in recent years.As it must, this mindset came from the very top.

Ty Haney (founder of Outdoor Voices, source):

“What I get really excited about is decoupling community growth from product revenue. How do we grow a Doing Things community that could be 10x what revenues are, and then, over time, we understand the correct way to get them into product?”

This community-mindset flexes hard on Instagram, particularly. The OV account has 368K followers & the hashtag #doingthings has been used about 150,000 times.That’s more than #smoothierecipes...


Outdoor Voices created a movement and then built a community around it.

Their own instagram feed is at least 60% user-generated content. OV fan photos have even been placed in OV’s official ad campaigns.

This human connection is as critical as peanut butter for a PB&J 🥪

Following suit of companies like Dollar Shave Club and Away, OV also just released The Recreationalist. Their new storytelling platform and magazine.From stories and interviews to forums, city guides, and playlists, OV is opening yet another channel of customer engagement.


This massive community is OV’s biggest strength.It’s one thing that money can’t buy. And brands tend to overlook b/c there’s not a clear-cut ROI.

A community is the one thing that continues to set brands apart. The proof is in the pudding (or the profits).Let’s talk about the cherry on top of OV’s retention handiwork.

3. ✨The Awe of Experience✨

On top of OV’s lively digital community, they’ve leaned hard into creating physical experiences around the brand.Currently, there are 9 physical OV stores. Each coming with it’s own unique experience.The Nashville store has an indoor bike and a gold-plated DDR machine.


OV uses their stores as a place to engage with customers and create an experience behind the brand.Aimed at millennials, these stores are a creation of the digital world colliding with a physical experience.

Bringing the e-Commerce experience right into the customers hands.

Now, on top of ALL OF THAT OV also uses their stores to drive people to them. Ala community events.

Rather than hosting traditional events (races/challenges), OV hosts more casual, approachable events.

Like dog jogs (um, sign me up) and outdoor yoga.

Again, sticking to the mission. Allowing customers to engage with the brand and product as they are.

I see you, Outdoor Voices 👀

At the end of the day, OV has built something much bigger than its products.

Still important to note that their clothing is high-quality, fashionable, and IMO some of the best out there.

And coming in at $95 per pair of leggings, the price point keeps the brand aspirational.

No matter how I look at it, Outdoor Voices didn’t build this incredible DTC brand on their own. They did it with the help of millions of engaged, raving fans.

It’s not magic. They put customers first. Focused on experience. And created a space that draws people to them.

As an added bonus, Haney’s two miniature Australian Shepherds have an Instagram, and I literally can’t even. 😍

Again, the Outdoor Voices retention recipe

1. Vision & Focus

2. Community-First Mindset

3. The Awe of Experience

Whose retention game should I dig through next? Tweet at me and let me know!

Kristen LaFrance

Head of community at Churn Buster, host of the Playing for Keeps podcast, and (unofficial) mayor of DTC Twitter, Kristen is an expert on all things retention. When she’s not interviewing leaders in the eCommerce world, you can catch her hiking 14-ers with her three rescue dogs.

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