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Not For Sale: The Community Behind Rent The Runway’s Unicorn Status

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In March, Rent The Runway joined the elite club of female-founded “unicorns,” or startups valued at $1 billion or more. At Tribe Dynamics we are all for women’s empowerment, and we also happen to measure and analyzes digital earned performance for brands. So how have online conversations about this rental phenomenon contributed to its retail success?

Rent The Runway Outpaced Top 10 Retailers in Growth

Screen Shot 2019-05-01 at 12.39.05 PMAs a reference point, we pulled 2018’s top 10 fashion retailers, including Revolve and Urban Outfitters, by Earned Media Value (EMV). On average, 5.6k influencers mentioned each retailer in a total of 55.8k posts over the year, generating $179.8M EMV. While these figures eclipsed Rent The Runway’s respective 1.3k content creators, 7.6k posts, and $14.5M EMV for 2018, the rental service consistently surpassed the top 10’s average year-over year increases in community size (11% vs. 5%), post volume (45% vs. 23%), and EMV (88% vs. 29%).

Renting Empowers Micro-Influencers—

It makes sense that a platform enabling access to a varied, low-cost, and high-end wardrobe would garner prolific content creation from smaller-scale bloggers. Ambassadors with fewer than 100,000 followers comprised 70% of Rent The Runway’s 2018 community—only slightly higher than the top 10 retailers’ 66% mean. But RTR micro-influencers were particularly enthusiastic, generating close to half (45%) of the brand’s total EMV (versus the top 10’s 25% average) and more than three-quarters (76%) of its content (versus. 59%) in 2018.

—And Is Gaining Steam With Mid-Tier and Established Bloggers

Screen Shot 2019-05-01 at 12.39.18 PMThe kind of influencer using and talking about Rent The Runway is rapidly shifting. Rent The Runway’s highest EMV-driving influencers in 2018, for example, were mid-tier* bloggers Jordan Landes-Brenman (Instagram’s @hautehouseflower) and Megan (@pipmegan). Each featured Rent The Runway in a respective 62 and 61 outfit posts, marking an increase from their respective 14 and 41 pieces of content in 2017.

The portion of EMV driven by mid-tier and established* influencers increased YoY by a respective 25% and 46%. Moreover, Rent The Runway’s overall community potency—or average EMV per content creator—grew a notable 69% YoY, as did its average number of posts per creator (31%). These influencers emphasize a social community that is notably consistent, increasingly prolific, and gaining in potency. With Rent The Runway’s upcoming foray into childrenswear and ever-expanding selection, it’s clear the startup is only gaining momentum.

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