Loop Earplugs, an e-commerce brand from Belgium, has reshaped the ear protection industry, achieving €42 million in 2022. Founded in 2016 by Maarten Bodewes and Dimitri O, Loop Earplugs offers a wide range of noise-reducing earplugs, combining sleek design with practical functionality.
These earplugs, created with both style and comfort in mind, have become a top choice for consumers seeking a blend of fashion and effective hearing protection. Their success is reflected in being rated as the #1 concert earplugs by The New York Times.
Loop earplugs’s journey is a masterclass in targeted marketing, community engagement, and adaptability in the face of unprecedented changes.
1. Loop earplugs’s success: From an innovative idea to a market domination
1.1 From friends to e-commerce giants
In 2016, Maarten Bodewes and Dimitri O, Belgian friends with backgrounds in commercial and civil engineering, founded Loop Earplugs. Passionate about nightlife, they noticed their ears ringing after a loud concert. This led them to create stylish earplugs that reduce noises and protect hearing.
By 2018, Loop's earplugs were in major stores like CVS in the USA and Saturn in Europe. Today, Loop has 200 employees and offices in Antwerp, Amsterdam, New York, and Shanghai.
They were named the fastest-growing tech company by Deloitte's 2022 Technology Fast 50. As well, Loop emerged as Belgium's leading technology company, boasting an astounding growth rate of approximately 15,275 percent.
By 2022, Loop Earplugs had grown into a €42 million business, selling over 2 million pairs in a year. The New York Times rated them as the best earplugs for concerts in 2023, highlighting their success and popularity.
.2 The COVID-19 crisis: Strategic pivot to DTC model and retargeting
The COVID-19 pandemic posed an existential threat to Loop, as monthly sales plummeted. Bodewes recalls a point where they were "two weeks away from not having any money." This period, however, was marked by two strategic pivots that would redefine Loop's trajectory.
To survive, the company shifted to a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, simplifying packaging and focusing on marketing earplugs as everyday essentials for work, relaxation, and sleep.
Their initial target was nightclub goers and party people, but as COVID-19 hits, everything was cancelled and everybody in lockdown.
At the time, Loop earplugs had to make important decisions about their target audience and how to broaden their reach.
The company thrived by listening to its customers, using surveys to uncover new use cases, and tailoring its marketing strategies accordingly.
They discovered an unexploited base: parents/kids, noise-sensitive individuals, ADHD and autistic people experiencing sensory overload, people who want to focus at work, sleep better, for relaxation or riding motorcycles.
2. Innovating the earplugs market: Redefining ear protection with style and function
Loop Earplugs, priced between £19.95 and £54.95, have consistently turned a profit since 2020, thanks to their cost-effective production, as noted by Bodewes.
Moving away from the traditional, boring designs, Loop has reinvented earplugs as fashion accessories, featuring vibrant colours and metallic finishes.
Their diverse product range caters to various needs for noise reduction, with options like Switch, Quiet, Loop Experience (Plus), and Engage (Plus & Kids). Each pair comes with differently sized silicone ear tips to fit individual ear shapes comfortably.
Additionally, they also have a line of accessories to increase the average order value through active upsells on both their cart and products pages.
Embodying a bold, confident, and colourful identity, Loop Earplugs symbolise freedom and self-expression — whether you're dancing, riding, exploring the world, or relaxing at home.
"There's an increase in awareness because of the taboo that is being broken when more people wear [earplugs]. It's becoming more accepted." says Bodewes.
The Loop brand voice, with its distinctive geometric O-shaped icon, is confident and positive. Their packaging further distances the product from “traditional medical aesthetics”, featuring a bright colour palette and including QR codes linked to video tutorials for ease of use.
Loop's website enhances customer experience with incentives like free returns for 100 days, free shipping on orders over £39, and appealing bundles that improve conversion rates.
Their tailored quiz helps customers find the perfect product fit, showcasing Loop's commitment to customer satisfaction and innovative marketing.
3. Loop earplugs marketing masterclass: Engaging community, whitelisting and A/B testing
3.1 Loop's Strategic ad spend and precision targeting
The company spent €1.5 million monthly on ads.
This budget was allocated to a mix of whitelisting and non-branded ads across social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
A critical component of their advertising strategy was the use of A/B testing at scale.
This approach allowed them to continuously refine and optimise their ads and landing pages, ensuring they resonated with the specific needs and preferences of each target audience segment.
“With those different use cases, we created very different ads, very different landing pages, and different prices to test to see what works and to see what has the best return on ad spend,” Dimitri says. “Then, we scaled those use cases on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok with ads and with the influencers most.”
During the second part of 2020 and all of 2021, Loop found new audiences and focused on building this customer base. The company grew from €1 million to €12 million in revenue.
3.2 Building a passionate community: Loop's affiliate program, UGC and influencer engagement
Loop has created a strong sense of community around its products through loyalty and referral programs, brand ambassadors, influencer-generated content and user-generated content.
On Instagram, the hashtag #loopearplugs has over 5k posts and on TikTok, the brand has over 3B search views.
For their influencer partnership, they are partnering with different influencers from different communities like with ADHD specific groups.
Loop Earplugs has implemented a clever strategy for their ambassador marketing by creating a specialised landing page dedicated to attracting potential affiliates.
- Community program: The Loop Community offers exclusive rewards and content through challenges and referrals, allowing members to earn credits, unlock new challenges, and receive rewards like event tickets and product co-creation opportunities.
- Friends referral: Loop also give the opportunity to win up to €100 depending on the number of friends that you refer.
- Affiliate marketing program: The Loop Affiliate Program pays participants to create content and share referral links with their unique code, with earnings based on the purchases made by referred customers, supported by provided media resources and tracking via an affiliate network. 15% of sales
Their ambassador and affiliate programs, alongside a robust community around their products, further helped Loop's position in the market.
3.3 Loop earplug’s game-changing SEO strategy for organic growth
Loop Earplugs, in collaboration with Re:signal, clinched the Consumer Goods category at The Drum Awards for Search.
In 2022, their primary goal was a substantial rise in organic revenue and establishing themselves as market leaders in the US and UK.
Their strategy involved a detailed analysis of the customer buying cycle, focusing on stages of Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.
They targeted high-traffic keywords likely to yield strong conversion rates, such as 'ear plugs for...'.
This approach shaped their content strategy, aiming to attract new customers, maintain visibility at the purchase point, and achieve high rankings for both specific and generic terms like "ear plugs for musicians".
The content, tailored to engage customers at different stages of the buying cycle, led to significant growth. Loop saw a +25.64% increase in sessions and a +34.02% rise in revenue for Jan-Dec 2022. Additionally, from Jun 2022 to May 2023, they experienced a +60.3% increase in sessions and a +106.9% growth in revenue, highlighting the effectiveness of their targeted approach.
Loop's journey from a two-man operation to a multi-million euro enterprise is not just about financial success; it's a story of two friends who turned a personal problem into a global solution, and in doing so, created a community and a brand that resonates with millions.
This story is inspiring for every entrepreneur and a reminder that with the right mix of innovation, resilience, and community focus, the sky's the limit.