X Thousand + Audience Fine-Tuning

Social Media Marketing Series 

March 2019 was not only a benchmark in public health for negative reasons, but a time in which many e-retailers, expanding startups, and direct-to-consumer brands hit the ground running. 

While many consumer goods companies wound up closed, in rough patches, and altogether bankrupt, one online activewear brand, Ten (X) Thousand, known for their men’s cross-fit shorts, was able to hit absurd profits.  

The way they did this was a precise combination of audience segmentation, strong situational analysis, and refining a niche product through a strong social strategy. 

This allowed X Thousand to complement a strong bet on referrals and organic traffic via word of mouth as the main marketing tactic for their online distribution strategy. 

Combine the bootstrapping of rich social media campaigns and articulate the adaptation of a mature, resolute, and scaling brand voice over time. 

The small startup fired on all of these cylinders and was able to achieve success during an opportunistic moment of a global public health crisis. 

Let’s take a closer look at just what worked regarding their unique audience definition and the evolution of their social media tactics.  

Know Thy Audience 

Co-Founders Keith Nowak and Eugenio Labadie understood their target customer because they had grown frustrated with their own experiences in the consumer space of men’s athletic shorts. 

The customer journey was by no means foreign to them, as they had aspired for this particular product and decided to pursue it since nobody had brought it to market. 

The idea of a minimalist, yet durable short that can do everything that they were doing. A busy daily life consisting of working out, swimming, biking, cross-fit, running, and wearing shorts into the office for a brief.  

Living in New York City, the founders were your typical, college-educated, urban hipsters with a knack for fashion startups and sports. 

They not only understood the need of this target customer but easily addressed the competitive advantages of the X Thousand buyer psychology by using their data, experience, and emotions.  

Organic WOM + Social Media

Not only did their specific channels of communication with the customer augment their points of sale, but the conversations via social media and real-time reviews helped them adapt to the furthering needs of the customer.

The word-of-mouth of the X Thousand new customers became so potent, it allowed their marketing team to reel back on paid advertising as a whole because they were performing so well from organic traffic, reviews, and affiliate marketing. 

Having a product category that coincidentally became in-demand at the time of their launch, was not helpful for their growth in the brand development index, but their CDI and share of voice compounded as every single one of their new customers became a strong advocate after their first purchase.  

The need for men’s workout shorts only skyrocketed as more and more work-from-home and typically daytime office employees found themselves isolated for months on end.  

Using their specific consumer psychology to segment the most engaging and rich audience, they then consistently carried out field tests elicited through social media promotions.

Consistent Brand Voice

In theory X Thousand found such a rich audience segmentation that they initially saw no need in customer acquisition marketing spend, instead focused solely on ambassador relationships with real athletes. 

These relationships not only funneled a unique brand proposition X Thousand’s way (be a brand for athletes, by athletes, at a consumer price), but it allowed them to reap the benefits of organic engagement afforded by popular athletes. 

Low key branding and minimalist design not only flooded their tone and brand identity, but it controlled their consistent voice and reflected across their integrated communications. 

Emails from X Thousand included links to rich media live field-tests of new products, and in-depth video reviews of athletes strutting the most recent short models and other X Thousand merchandise. 

This is complemented by a commitment to sustainability, not in profits, but in ecological impact as a global retailer and responsible apparel producer. 

X Thousand has created a recycle-for-the-environment partner program on their site which prompts new and returning customers to commit old articles for a 10% discount. 


One thing is certain, not every retail brand will find immediate online success followed by X Thousand in their first couple years of business. 

They are a unicorn in the sense of their achievements through organic and referral business only. 

They match this social media fluency and ambassador-rich engagement with an incredibly diverse line of functional and everlasting men’s workout shorts. 

The product speaks for itself, but they also know how to speak on behalf of their brand. 

With the appropriate resiliency, adaptation, and social listening, any brand can come to terms with what their customer needs. 

In the end, that’s what social media should be about, utilizing these tools to get closer to the conversations and problems our customers are facing daily. 

For more Social Media Marketing science, check how MVMT Watches created a DTC empire.