Building Brand Loyalty in the Horse World: What Makes Your Favorite Brands Your 'Ride or Dies'?

equestrian business Jun 21, 2022

Everyone has "their" brands: we all know someone who is a die-hard loyalist to Ariat boots. Or maybe your barn mate will only buy breeches from a certain brand. We hear obsessive loyalty to feed brands, supplement brands, hunt coats, saddles, and bits. Yes, a lot has to do with quality products, but in a sea of amazing equestrian goods, what makes certain brands stand out and develop almost cult-like followings?

We talked about this a lot in our June free webinar on brand strategy (if you missed this webinar, don't worry – we do a free in-depth webinar on a different subject in equestrian business nearly every month!). What is it about our favorite equestrian brands that draws us to them? Why do we have an emotional connection to "our" boot brand? Or why do we feel personally connected the saddle brand we ride in? Why do we only buy our riding clothes from two or three brands? Brand loyalty is everything when it comes to long-term success in any industry, but in the equestrian space, it's even more crucial. Horse people have a tendency to adopt an obsessive loyalty to certain brands or products and use them for a lifetime - these raving fans also become your best source of free marketing.

Equestrians are what the business world calls "slow adopters" – we're not the first group to adopt new technology or jump on the hot new trend. We are rooted in tradition and typically look to our community members first to see what everyone else is doing. Take air vests in the hunter/jumper space for example: objectively they're a great idea. Safer riding. Low profile. Reduced risk of serious injury in a dangerous sport. Seems like a shoe-in to take off quickly, right? However, it took years for air vests to become mainstream at the majority of hunter/jumper shows. Most equestrians needed to see top show jumpers adopting this technology, then see their peers in their divisions wearing them. They needed to know that judges wouldn't penalize them in the hunter ring, that they could still wear their nice hunt coats, and that they wouldn't be looked at strangely. They needed to be convinced over time by their community that air vest are now a normal and integral part of the sport – now, you'll see them on nearly every rider at the top horse shows, and each rider has their personal favorite brand that they'll evangelize to their peers.\

Your brand – whether you have a product, provide a service, or are yourself the brand – has to work its way into the community in the same fashion. You have to find the elements of your brand that speak to your target audience in a meaningful way and pull at the emotions that create die-hard brand loyalty. Once you have identified the elements that make your brand special, you'll be able to strategize how to begin integrating your brand into the equestrian community until it becomes something that your target customer resonates with on a deep level and remains loyal to for the long-haul.

Today let's take a look at your favorite equestrian brands and what it is about their brand voice, social media, marketing, product positioning, and community engagement that makes you so obsessed, so that you can start incorporating these same elements into how you position and communicate your own brand in the horse world.

Download this free worksheet, print it out, and start working through the qualities that make your favorite equestrian brands just that. You can do this multiple times for multiple brands!



Photos by Anasofia Vazquez Photography.