The Garmin Tribe

Stavros Kontaktsis
4 min readDec 7, 2022

Last weekend I traveled to València during the local marathon event. I was here again in 2019 to run the race, but this time my wife was running so I could enjoy the City and the event with our 7-year-old daughter. On Monday, I was sitting at the lounge of the Valencia Airport, observing the runners waiting for their flights back home after spending a long weekend at the “Running City,” as Valencia brands itself, it struck me. Marathon runners are the dream audience for almost any brand, but somehow, they are loyal only to one brand. Their Garmins.

The typical profile of a runner is an individual with a good job, and usually, a get-things-done mentality, an overachiever if we wish to be exact. Marathon runners are prime targets as consumers. Each year they spend anywhere from 2000 to 10000 euros (or dollars) on their “hobby.” A Garmin wristwatch, two or three pairs of running shoes, the next-gen ones will set you back 250 euros, running clothes for winter and summer training, a coach that helps them out, plus the racing fees and travel costs. They add up to quite a lot, and trust me; runners are looking for the best because every incremental edge matters, so they are willing to pay for the best.

This past weekend in Valencia, you could spot them everywhere, lean and athletic, with new-gen running shoes and puffers for the cold and the mark of the Tribe on their wrists. Thirty thousand, mostly affluent individuals, plus their families and friends, roam the City for three days, booking all the available rooms, eating, and spending money. All flights were fully booked months in advance., Way to boost your City’s revenue.

And this is where the Garmin Tribe thing gets exciting for me as an ad man. Garmin is the leader of the Tribe. They own 95%+ of the marathon runners market (and triathletes and cyclists) and managed to do so with a fraction of the budget of others targeting the market, such as Apple. The loyalty to the brand is phenomenal. And it’s derived from the product and nothing else. Their products are workhorses targeted to the demanding individual. While waiting for my wife at the finish line, I took a small count of wristwatches (and shoes). I didn’t see anyone wearing an Apple Watch (not even the ultra), and more than 95% of the runners wore a Garmin.

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Stavros Kontaktsis

With a diploma in Chemical Engineering I ended up in Advertising and Communications. I like gadgets and scuba. Opinions are my own.