How GoPro Utilizes Its Consumer Base

Last year I took a course called Strategic Brand Management taught by Professor John Fisher, and on the first day, he assigned each student to write their favorite brand on a piece of paper and bring it to the next class. After much thought, which consisted of me going through my Instagram account and looking up companies online, I remembered one brand that has stood out to me for years—GoPro. As one of the few brands I follow on social media, I am consistently entertained by their posts and their artistic, exciting content. Unlike many other media and camera companies, GoPro maintains an extremely close relationship with consumers and fans alike. This bond with a rapidly established target audience of travelers, thrill-seekers, adventure junkies, extreme sports athletes, and fans of which completely reshaped GoPro’s business, especially in terms of their marketing and advertising strategies.

GoPro creates value through their well-made products and incredibly strong brand. Over the years since GoPro’s IPO, their stock has gone down significantly, which can mostly be attributed, in fact, to how well their products have been made since the beginning of the company. Following the Technology Adoption Lifecycle, once GoPro became a big name, it had many early adopters, early majority, and late majority consumers, and one could argue that GoPro as an entire brand is in its laggard stage currently. Most consumers who were interested bought an earlier version of a GoPro camera, which has an unknown lifetime because very few cameras ever do break. Additionally, GoPro has made new improvements in video capturing capabilities, but few too many to distinguish a need to purchase a completely new camera at a steep price.

Tech Adoption Curve 1

GoPro does one thing that many companies dare not venture into. GoPro gives its consumers the control of the brand through user-generated content (UGC), which is GoPro’s main way to maintain such a loyal connection with consumers and brand fanatics. UGC is any form of uploaded content created by a user of a system or service that is made public. In terms of GoPro specifically, this can include photographs and videos uploaded to Instagram, videos uploaded to Youtube, or even pictures or videos submitted to GoPro’s own website, as well as any other forms of media taken by GoPro products uploaded online. GoPro encourages consumers to upload using the hashtag #GoPro or to submit straight through their own website, where they can choose videos or photographs of the day or also make video montages from their internal production team.

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Additionally, GoPro regularly spurs customers to upload for different prizes. During a single contest where GoPro might hand out five new cameras, they will receive thousands of uploads, which generates interest and awareness outside of their reach. Their ability to successfully engage their audience to create content on behalf of the brand drives an authentic relationship between the company and consumer—one that is genuine and beneficial to both parties. GoPro sets an example to companies globally of how to utilize consumers as a tool to maintain high engagement and interest in the brand.

Throughout the years, GoPro has built a solid foundation to empower customers to do the grunt work for the company. Surprisingly, leading up to GoPro’s IPO in 2014, the company increased net income in 2013 by $28 million with only a meager increase of $41,000 in advertising spend, all because of their ingenious usage of UGC. GoPro encourages users to upload their photos and videos through the GoPro mobile application, which allows users to wirelessly store, save, and upload content to the GoPro website and the users’ personal devices.

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GoPro’s Mobile App

This way, users do not have to worry about saving content strictly to their laptops, but are rather given an easy path to sharing experiences through social media on their phones. Additionally, GoPro relies heavily on their sponsored athletes and influencers to produce riveting content. In place of art directors, acting casts, and a team of videographers, GoPro simply provides cameras to well-known athletes, travelers, and adventure junkies, and in turn the brand receives exorbitant amounts of marketing and advertising gold to use on their social platforms, which further interests other potential consumers. Average customers and well-known athletes and influencers become GoPro’s advertising, showcasing their adventures and experiences, as well as the camera’s capabilities. Nick Woodman, the GoPro founder and CEO explains the brand’s content marketing decision where GoPro believes


“The best stories are being lived by our customers… We want to help people self-document themselves engaged in their interests or passions.”

Instead of pushing products, GoPro chooses to embrace UGC and push experiences, adventures, and a particular lifestyle. GoPro’s decisions as a camera and media company garner trust and better customer experiences, which increases sales down the line. More companies need to look towards GoPro as an example of how to engage, satisfy, and line up values with target audiences by having the customers be the brand’s voice. As customers become more passionate about brands, they will become brand advocates, creating communities surrounding a company’s products and services.



  1. sherricheng5 · ·

    Awesome post! I totally agree with you- some brands could really benefit from a customer-led brand voice. I think social media and the sharing economy increase the level of mutual trust between consumers, so it makes sense for brands to make it easy for their consumers to promote their brand. This mutually beneficial strategy reminds me of the companies that send products to social media influencers in the hopes that the influencer will review it and talk about the brand to his or her followers. Also, a lot of clothing brands run competitions where they ask their customers to post pictures with their product using a particular hashtag. While I think this strategy is great, I’m not sure if it makes sense for all companies. This strategy has definitely enabled GoPro to be successful in the past, but I think they will need to do more (create more products, etc.) in the future to compete with competitors.

  2. Sheritta Coleburn · ·

    Great Post! I think UGC is a great way for GoPro to handle most of their advertising. Many companies are getting on the UGC bandwagon to attract customers and increase sales. Go Pro seems to make a “win win ecosystem”!

  3. fernanfu89 · ·

    Really interesting article! Its true that despite tought competition, GoPro has marketed themselves greatly. Especially if you look at their you tube channel as well as other videos that users often post of youtube. I usually find myself looking at these videos just because of how amazing they are. It’s also really interesting to see that GoPro is still out there considering you can buy comparable cameras at a much cheaper price as well as cell phones nowadays are waterproof and have amazing cameras. I guess its all about their amazing marketing.

  4. sejackson33 · ·

    Awesome post, Shannon! This is a great discussion of GoPro’s marketing tactics. GoPro’s UGC is incredible and I think they would be remiss not to take advantage of it. It effortlessly displays the capabilities and quality of the GoPro. It also adds credibility to the marketing as it is actual owners and users of the GoPro who are submitting content instead of GoPro editing and polishing videos.

  5. m_thompson19 · ·

    I’ve always been a big GoPro fan – I think the mission of the company is super cool and they’ve done a great job having every shift they make stay in line with their overall company objectives. It saddens me to see the decline of GoPro – even though they are a household name and have seen success, iPhones are encroaching their market share and threatening to takeover the camera industry as a whole. I agree with you that Gopro is really great at utilizing platforms as a way in which to engage their audience, but I’m not sure if its enough.

  6. Interesting post, but I’m a bit confused at the disconnect between the GoPro use of UGC and the declining stock price. I’m wondering if UGC was a great way to build up the company and its brand, but you just can’t fight the underlying technological trends moving away from camera manufacturers – no matter how good they are.

  7. kaitlinardiff · ·

    Cool post! I’ve always been intrigued by GoPro, but always found too few use cases where I’d actually utilize it in my daily life. However, I completely agree with you in saying that the laggard stage is definitely in full effect. I know tons of people that bought them a few years ago, but I don’t know anyone who has bought one recently as the camera quality of smartphones has improved. GoPro definitely needs to figure out how to alter their brand offering to remain relevant and I see VR being a huge opportunity for them. Even partnering with Snapchat in terms of their Spectables might be another unique outlet. Partnerships could help to leverage their great brand name while finding new innovations.

  8. Hilary_Gould · ·

    I’ve always loved looking at GoPro’s Instagram and website– their content is always so impressive. For the longest time I just wanted a GoPro because I thought I would obviously be able to do cool things just like everyone who is posting these cool pictures. My cousins are huge GoPro fans– they’re super adventurous and love to surf and hike and always use their GoPros to make cool videos. While it’s such a cool product and the brand loyalty is high, they don’t have many products. They’ve struggled to capture the strong brand loyalty and turn it into a successful business model because most people don’t have 5 GoPros.

  9. Great post Shannon! As you mentioned, I think GoPro did a great job of leveraging the unique and inherent opportunities presented by its product. A paper producing company for example, would never have been able to achieve the hype that GoPro has to promote it’s brand. I think the user-generated content has also worked so well for them because people love living vicariously through others. The video that you included at the end of the post for example, was incredible because it made me feel as if I was experiencing the adventures myself – things that bike flips on sand dunes that I would never be able to do myself. While I think this has definitely built a strong brand equity for GoPro in that it is the dominant, go-to product when filming adrenaline filled activities, I have never seriously considered purchasing one. While there were moments here and there where I thought having a GoPro would have come in handy (bungee jumping, skiing, and sand-boarding for example), I felt that my adventures were too few and far between to make a big financial commitment. Especially with smartphones becoming waterproof and having increasingly better cameras, I think my chances of buying one get slimmer every year. The videos are still incredible though, and it was very interesting to see how they have been able to boost sales in the past with such small investments in marketing.

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