For years fitness clubs relied purely on obtaining rather than retaining members. Staying connected with individual consumers wasn’t a focus. This was another bloated business model that technology disrupted.
New data collection methods, the Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are expanding the potential of customer understanding to open new doors of business growth in the sector. Boutique studios, smartphone apps and online classes are no longer alternative options but are now established in mainstream culture.
“The UK health & fitness industry will continue to grow exponentially over the next few years to be worth £22.8 billion by 2020.”
According to Statista, the UK health & fitness industry will continue to grow exponentially over the next few years to be worth £22.8 billion by 2020 and involve a worldwide community of over 1 billion people. All areas of the fitness industry have witnessed growth with the fastest growing areas around weight loss and alternative medicines. Despite a decline in public spending since 2014, there has been a consistent rise in UK fitness facilities since 2010 and there are twice as many fitness facilities in the UK as there were 10 years ago.
Create a culture
As the industry ‘digitises’, troves of big data are made available to fitness clubs on a daily basis via their members’ performance data, from connected equipment, their usage time, attendance rate and wearable devices.
“Britons waste £558m ($727m) each year on gym memberships, with one in 10 admitting they hadn’t set foot in their gym for over 12 months.”
Staying connected with their members and retaining members is proving an essential component for the fitness industry. According to a 2018 study from fitness apparel brand Banana Moon (https://www.banana-moon-clothing.co.uk/ ), Britons waste £558m ($727m) each year on gym memberships, with one in 10 admitting they hadn’t set foot in their gym for over 12 months.
Hence effective and intelligent use of data is the key for Big-Box gyms as well as boutique franchises to understand the different fitness preferences of their customers. In doing this fitness brands can offer specialised programmes from fast-paced rowing sprints to reformer Pilates and have customers coming back for more.
The social media arena, as well, has proven a powerful tool. Understanding how strong a driver the instructors and their social presence can be for gym members, fitness brands have started celebritise its instructors, creating strong connections around their personas. In America this trend led Soulcycle and its parent company Equinox, to open a talent management agency (supported by WME) and represent the brand’s instructors for other marketing opportunities (from follower growth to sponsorship deals).
“Going to the gym is no longer seen as something people have to do, but something they want to do.”
In other words, data can help fitness brands with the creation of a culture and a lifestyle around their members’ interests, motivations. They can position themselves not just as a place for exercise but more as an experience because going to the gym is no longer seen as something people have to do, but something they want to do. They combine not only entertainment and experience, but also networking and wellbeing.
Joining the dots
In our latest study on the fitness industry, we explored how focusing on lifestyle, in-depth personalisation and harnessing the power of consumers motivations and influences can help fitness brands boom.
The Barrys audience shows a high propensity towards fashion and beauty. Their top brands are Soulcycle, (indoor cycling classes as well as sportswear) Sweaty Betty, Lululemon and Nike Women – all brands that cater to female sportswear. Whether knowingly or not, Barry’s has shown a good understanding of this interest and offer their own line of fashion to accommodate it. Raw Press, a healthy juice café, is also a top brand, Barry’s has shown an acknowledgement of this passion and incorporated a bar with fresh juices and protein shakes as part of the business model.
“With technology and agile use of insights, gyms can succeed in making their members personally accounted for and most importantly make them feel part of a brand that knows them.”
The following of Pure Gym is more passionate about nutrition and sporting activities such as Football and Rugby. Meanwhile, their top brands are related to supplements and muscle gain, such as MuscleFood UK, The Protein Works, Optimum Nutrition and BodyPowerExpo. This is reflective of a slightly more male audience and could be acknowledged by providing high-protein drinks, snacks and enhanced weight lifting facilities.
This wealth of information can not only open up new revenue streams, partnership opportunities for fitness brands but also heavily inform their strategies and tactics to help them transform into a lifestyle brand offering to their members specialised fitness choices.
It’s not the data, it’s how you use it.
By using this wealth of information and potential to consistently deliver the right service at the right time to its members, a fitness brand can continue evolving its business model to maintain competitive advantages. Technology has enabled customers to choose more freely and created a highly competitive market. The market requires quality and a variety of services and studios from the various Fitness brands if they want to maintain this competitive edge.
Members are no longer another number on a spreadsheet, but with technology and agile use of insights, gyms can succeed in making their members personally accounted for and most importantly make them feel part of a brand that knows them.