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How Gear Patrol successfully harnesses reader meetups

Gear Patrol meetup

Opinion/Case Study

There’s something elemental about the connection that happens when you get a group of people in a room who are all equally passionate about the same thing. At Gear Patrol, an award-winning digital and print publication, content studio and online store, we’re focused on the intersection of products and life’s pursuits — both are areas beloved by passionate enthusiasts. But it was an evening last June that sparked a new phase of audience interaction for the Gear Patrol team.

Gear Patrol staff and readers gathered at Jane Motorcycles in Brooklyn, New York, to celebrate a collaboration between two Gear Patrol advertising clients, the Swiss watch manufacturer Baume & Mercier and the classic American company Indian Motorcycle. Though the event drew enthusiasts from two seemingly separate crowds, it united them through the love of products and under the banner of Gear Patrol, creating an incredible evening and propelling an idea. Gear Patrol isn’t merely a publisher, it’s a unifying platform to bring our diverse audience together and connect it through a shared interest in product culture.  

Since that night one year ago, Gear Patrol has set out to formulate the ideal way to create environments, opportunities and events where readers can connect, learn and experience together. And most importantly, brands are craving authentic inclusion into these cultural moments.

In fact, it’s becoming more commonplace for Gear Patrol Studios’ media plans to include some form of in-real-life activation, in addition to premium media placements and custom branded content opportunities. And partners are willing to pay healthily for these genuine introductions into readers’ lives outside of their screens.

After hosting several events, it became clear that launching a more formal approach to events would create the right kinds of familiarities and expectations with our readers and, with that, two programs were born. First, Gear Patrol has launched a series of smaller reader activations dubbed In the Field. These events are designed to get our readers together with our editors to experience products firsthand. They’re also an opportunity for brands to get their products in the hands of our engaged audience. 

The first of these In the Field events was an exclusive watch preview at Phillips Auction House with high-end spirits brand The Macallan, where Gear Patrol readers were able to peruse rare watches and savor rare whiskey. In the days following the event, The Macallan team saw a correlation between sales and key areas that matched our geo-targeted invitation list. In their estimation, this correlation could only be attributed to results from our In the Field reader activation with Phillips.

Even more recently, Gear Patrol hosted an exclusive guided run in Brooklyn. Capped at 25 avid runners, the two-mile run was bookended by a question-and-answer session with industry professionals from the fitness tracking team at WHOOP and the recovery experts at BKLYN CBD. It was a genuine way to build lasting bonds with a select group of like-minded individuals and has set a pattern for more In the Field activities on the horizon. For these more frequent reader get-togethers, it’s clear that these events need to feel personal, exclusive and highly educational.

The next phase in Gear Patrol’s event program was just announced, an annual and exhaustive reader summit called Stocked: A Product Culture Conference, which will be held on Friday, September 27, 2019, at the Classic Car Club Manhattan at Pier 76 in New York City. Despite the success of holding smaller, more frequent meet-ups, the need for a complementary immersive event became evident from both readers’ feedback and from brands’ desires to share a stage with Gear Patrol.

Through key talks by industry leaders, editorial presentations from the Gear Patrol editors and on-site brand activations, the first-annual Gear Patrol conference will celebrate product culture by unveiling the stories, ideas and people behind the very objects that influence us. This rich content will be supplemented by commerce in the form of shoppable areas and moments throughout Friday’s programming. The commerce component will also be open to the public on Saturday, September 28.

Stocked is presented by new menswear company Hill City, a high-performance men’s apparel brand. Other sponsors include the groundbreaking British technology company Dyson, as well as Herman Miller. Local partners include Fuku, a fried chicken restaurant by Momofuku, and Ace Hotel New York. Each brand participating in Stocked, as well as those yet to be announced, have been carefully selected for their dedication to amazing product design, exceptional storytelling and an enthusiastic following.

Whether it’s some elemental thread that ties passionate product lovers together or just a little bit of magic, when you bring these enthusiasts together, something special happens. And when appropriately introduced, brands too can participate in that moment and create new, genuine relationships with consumers, whether through educating new potential customers and receiving real-time product feedback at the event, or through post-event follow-up via gifting and targeted gift codes to help track sales uplift based on the event.

Kyle Snarr, Head of Marketing at Gear Patrol