REI Co-op (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) is a retail store dedicated to selling sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and clothing. REI Co-op also offers services such as outdoor-oriented vacations and classes.
REI Co-op was founded by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938. The company got it’s start after the Anderson’s bought an Akadem Pickel ice axe from Austria. Realizing that good gear with reasonable prices was hard to find, Lloyd and Mary developed a co-operative so other outdoor enthusiasts could buy quality gear that wouldn’t break their bank.
In terms of branding, REI Co-op is known as one of the top “go to” places for quality camping, hiking, cycling, paddling, climbing, snow related activities and running gear They stand behind every product with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The company was built by a group of 23 mountain hiking friends who like to get outside and play and know how to cater to like-minded individuals. They are also well known for the variety of courses offered related to all of the above mentioned activities and travel opportunities. A fun fact about REI is that they have made Fortunes Magazines list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” each and every year since the rankings began in 1998. Now that’s impressive!
REI has 154 brick and mortar retail stores in 36 states. They also receive orders via catalogs and online. Their annual revenue in 2015 was $2.4 billion.
Social Media Presence Overview
- Facebook: @REI
- Likes: 1,808,628
- Visitors: 336,108
- Followers: 114,464
- Following: 333
- Number of Pins: 584,830
- Followers: 1.7m
- Following: 392
- Username: @rei
- Followers: 390k
- Following: 1075
- Number of Tweets: 90.4k
- Subscribers: 55,868
Analysis and Evaluation
REI’s Facebook account is their most popular social media site with almost two million followers and “likes” and just over 300k page visitors. REI utilizes Facebook to share a variety of videos from mountain biking basics to affordable backpacking meals, and snowshoe lessons to name a few. In addition, as you navigate down the menus, you’ll note upcoming events and adventures, albums with timeline/cover photos, profile pictures and Gory Gearheads, which are Halloween Avatars that you can pick for your profile picture and share your alter ego with your friends. I’ll have to check that out in a few months!
REI is very engaged with its customers and followers and appears to post daily. One of their recent posts encouraged followers to share their favorite campsite photos and the feedback they received was outstanding. The post that really caught my attention was geared towards alternative ways to pitch a tent.
Who knew you could camp on the roof of your car?
In viewing the community link, I learned that REI is heavily engaged in stewardship. On July 30th they are partnering with the Shenandoah National Park and about 50 volunteers to rebuild historic landscapes and wilderness areas around an area called Big Meadows. REI is also supporting several restoration and community engagement projects across the National Forests in 2017 and 2018 through a $1 million donation to the National Forest Foundation. In scrolling down a bit, I also learned that REI donated t-shirts to youth aged volunteers that built new trail including 3 climbing turns, 2 rock walls and a few drainage structures. In addition REI helped with the effort to install a bike fix station in Del Dios Gorge, Santa Fe Valley trail. Other posts noted on the community link included some customer complaints and compliments, and upcoming events such as the Women’s Solo Travel on July 26th. Realizing that women haven taken a strong interest in outdoor activities, REI is utilizing FB to market events and gear to attract that audience and is also using the forum to promote women of every ability and culture to expand their customer base. When scrolling through REI’s FB page, you might think that the company was geared specifically for women only as the majority of their posts depict women.
It’s no surprise that REI Co-op has an impressive presence on Pinterest. You can easily navigate to their Pinterest page via their website. From there, you have access to 17 boards and 584,830 pins. Boards are organized by category and provide easy access to a wealth of information. Want to know what gear to buy for a backpacking trip, click on the related board. Going camping and not sure what to eat? Check out their endless list of camp recipes and camp kitchen check list. You can also find a variety of “gifts for her”, “gifts for him” gifts for kids” and board dedicated to over 150 active vacations offered around the globe like this one:
REI’s Instagram account is loaded with inspiring pictures from REI staff and followers. I like how they challenged followers to share personal pictures and experiences via weekend projects like “raise the stakes” where they asked followers to share how they camp when they don’t use a traditional tent and tag it “#LetsCamp.”
Everything posted on this site is completely relevant for the company branding and motivates the reader/follower to want more, be more, and to explore more.
REI has been on Twitter since 2008 and has over 390k followers, are following over 1000 people, have tweeted 90.4k times, and the account has 17.9k likes. All posts are relevant/supportive of the REI Co-op brand, include general posts/videos and are interactive with customers via the use of chats and surveys and replies to complaints with action steps. Like their Facebook account, REI is also using Twitter to promote women’s gear and events for women. Not a surprise given women make up 85% of consumer purchases. They’d be foolish to not get a piece of that big pie!
REI is reaching over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube and provides links to all their other social media platforms. The first video posted on the home page encourages viewers to stand up to the Department of the Interior to protect our national monuments like our parks. Check it out:
There is an abundance of great “how to” videos available such as this great one on how to use a compass:
The YouTube is channel appears to be interactive via the discussion link, but all I found were 25 random comments from followers and no REI staff interaction. Under the “playlist” tab, you’ll find an abundance of additional videos such as advice from the experts, guides, tips, traveling with REI, member stories and uplifting/supportive content like Paul’s Boots:
Overall, REI Co-op has a strong presence across multiple social media platforms. They are very active with their posts, sharing information and member stories as well as inspiring their followers to remain or get active. Based on follower interactions, you can tell that their customers are strong supporters of REI gear, clothing, supplies, challenges and adventures.
When I ran a basic Google search on REI Co-op I found a link to the company website, Twitter Handle, Wikipedia Information, Facebook page, a link to jobs @ REI, additional searches with links to rei clothing, rei careers, rei outlet, store locator, rei sale, rei coupons and rei membership. There was also a link to the story about their #OptOutside Campaign. For those that despise Black Friday shopping, you’ll appreciate this one! There are an abundance of images for the logo REI or REI Co-op and other photos related to the company.
REI is in the news quite a bit. I found press releases announcing the launching of new gear, store openings, new staff and a CNN story pertaining to the challenge REI presented to the Trump administration about the protection of our public lands. I also found a story stating that REI was noted as one of the top 100 places to work for Millennials.
The Google search presented a lot of video content as well. Most are similar, if not the same as what I found on YouTube. In addition, I found one book as a result of the search titled “rei: 50 years of climbing together” by Harvey Manning.
Commendations and Recommendations
In my opinion, I feel REI Co-op is doing a great job marketing all their products, gear, courses and travel opportunities via their website and multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. Their followers help the process along by posting stories, pictures and feedback. In addition, their website is loaded with product information, courses, videos, sales, advice, stories, and links to local hikes and “gems.” As an active/outdoorsy kind of person, I could spend hours upon hours reviewing videos and how to guides. In fact, I just found a few trips to add to my “bucket list”:
REI’s motto is to dream it, learn it, and do it and I have to say they have had that affect on me and then some!
With any company, there’s always room for improvement. Based on my research, I feel that REI Co-op could do a better job replying to customer comments and complaints on social media platforms. In addition, it appears they are focusing the majority of their current efforts/attention on women. While that’s a great market to go after, they shouldn’t discount the power of the male consumer. REI Co-op should aim to maintain a balance of diverse posts/videos across all genders, cultures, and people of varying physical abilities.