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Enabling offline communities

In today’s fast-paced world, people are looking for a sense of connection. The popularity of websites like Meet-up, which allow people to organise groups online to meet offline, and the expansion of Godless Congregations like the Sunday Assembly, which bring people together without the central belief in a deity, is no coincidence. These communities are built around people’s passion points and provide them with a sense of community normally associated with rituals and gatherings.

At a time when most brands are busy building online communities, a parallel opportunity exists for brands to facilitate regular get-togethers around their audiences’ interests. Whilst not every category sparks passion in consumers, most brands can build an affiliation to something people are passionate about.

Connecting with people face to face and creating an experience where a brand plays a central role provides an opportunity for great brand connection. An offline community built around your brand is one of the ultimate forms of ‘experiential activity’ because it enables a deep, ongoing relationship with consumers in return for a relatively low investment.


With the aim of make running fun, accessible and inclusive, Nike+ launched the world’s largest running club. The idea was for people to meet up, train and push themselves further than ever before, thanks to the ongoing support of the rest of team.

The club is free and open to runners of all levels, all members have to do is find a participating Nike store in a location close to them and attend weekly. It seems like an easy and cost-effective way to drive brand loyalty, gain new customers and introduce people to new and existing products. Plus, of course, it drives people to the store.


The popular online dating website – which has over 20 million members worldwide – recently launched Nights. The events include anything from casual meet-ups in bars to bowling nights, cookery classes, dance lessons and rock climbing.

The free-to-attend events are invite only, but members are allowed to invite up to three single friends who are not subscribers. The website uses computer algorithms to carefully select ‘matching’ couples – invitees are matched by geographical area, age and interests.

These meet-ups are a great way to introduce new people to the service (friends of friends) and offer an opportunity to increase consumer satisfaction, as meeting a large group of ‘singles’ face-to-face, certainly improves your chances of finding your perfect match.


Of course, we couldn’t do a Bank Currency about Offline Communities without talking about Harley Davidson. Harley’s long-term success has been intricately connected to their commitment to building a brand community.

Harley Owners Group® (HOP) is a group of ardent consumers organised around the lifestyle, activities and ethos of the brand. For the past 30 years, the brand has been leveraging this community and regularly runs events and workshops that allow Harley Owners to live out their passion, ultimately providing them with a great sense of belonging.


Photography groups are one of the most popular ones in Meet-up. It was only a matter of time before a photography brand jumped on the trend and started its very own community of photographers. It could have been Canon, Kodak, Nikon… most of them have their own online communities, but, ironically, it was social media brand Instagram who were the first to create an offline community of photographers.

Instagram promotes their InstaMeets as a great way to get to know other Instagrammers, discuss filters, exchange tips, improve your technique or just take photos and videos together. For the brand, it is a fantastic way to increase the use of the app by reaching more people, more often, as well as deepening users’ commitment to the service.