MARKETING STRATEGY FOR A FITNESS CLUB OR GYM
FEATURES OF THE INDUSTRY
The wellness industry is one of the most interesting and challenging areas for professional marketing, especially the part that includes marketing for fitness clubs or gyms. This is due to the long list of industry-specific features compared to other service sectors. Here are the key characteristics of the fitness industry that create marketing interest for fitness clubs or gym promotion:
- Low-conversion demand. The fitness market situation may change, but globally it remains similar in most countries. The number of potential clients is comparable to natural monopolies, almost indistinguishable from the number of water or electricity consumers. Very few people believe they don't need sports at all. However, the actual number of fitness service consumers is remarkably small compared to the potential client base.
- Motivational component. The fitness service market is unique in terms of the importance of creating and maintaining consumer motivation. It's probably the most challenging market in this regard. The level of motivation needed to attract clients to a fitness center or gym is unparalleled compared to other services like electricity, internet, sausages, coffee, alcohol, beauty salon services, entertainment services, and almost anything else. Moreover, marketers not only have to think about attracting clients but also about creating a motivation system for long-term client retention, providing incentives for continued training and extending subscriptions.
- Diversified marketing. Potential clients in the fitness industry, especially those who are not yet active users, have numerous reasons not to go to a club or gym - lack of free time, work, fatigue, friends, children, prices, mood, and many other reasons. The task for marketers is to create a promotion system that attracts the maximum number of potential consumers, covering a wide range of "no" factors. Furthermore, the task is complicated by the need to think not only about the problem of attracting clients but also about a motivation system for long-term client retention, providing incentives to continue training and extend subscriptions.
- Industry voice. In the modern world, the voice of those who actively train is becoming increasingly audible. There is a plethora of motivating videos and diverse information online that popularize a healthy lifestyle and fitness industry services. This benefits all market participants - potential clients see and understand that a typical visitor to a fitness club or gym is a normal, healthy, happy person, not a "pumped-up" guy on steroids.
- Intense competition. On the other hand, the industry's voice is mostly commercialized, aimed at attracting clients, indicating significant competition for consumer attention and their wallets. Fitness clubs compete not only among themselves but also with private trainers. Moreover, if we consider the issue more broadly, competition also exists with related healthy lifestyle industries and all leisure industries, where the competition targets the free time of potential clients.
- Innovation and technology. The fitness industry is considered innovative in terms of developing training programs to attract more clients, offering a growing variety of group and personal training options based on different methodologies and approaches. In terms of technology, the fitness industry is characterized by advanced applications for planning and tracking physical activity, monitoring and planning nutrition, and more. Furthermore, the era of artificial intelligence is on the horizon. It can be predicted that in a few years, there will be even more personalized training and coaching for nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, transitioning to a qualitatively new level of artificial intelligence, which leading companies in the industry are already working on.
In conclusion, fitness clubs and gyms operate in a truly unique and dynamic environment with a potentially enormous client base, but at the same time, face stiff competition for the time, attention, and motivation of each client. Competition in such conditions requires significant skills in building an effective marketing strategy and an efficient marketing plan.
SOME GENERAL STRATEGIES AND APPROACHESS
Based on the information above, modern marketing for fitness clubs and gyms involves a diverse set of strategies, approaches, and tools. However, the key feature is that, in our opinion, fitness clubs and gyms should build two distinct but equally important marketing directions—one for attracting new club members and another for their long-term motivation and retention.
Here are the main elements of marketing commonly used to attract new clients:
- Differentiated or niche marketing. Fitness clubs or gyms can focus on specific target audiences and promote services exclusively among them or use a differentiation marketing strategy to implement various marketing programs for different target audiences to reach various categories of potential clients.
- Traditional advertising. Depending on target audiences and marketing budgets, fitness companies may use traditional advertising on TV, radio, print publications, and outdoor media. This type of advertising complements digital channels for younger and middle-aged clients and serves as a primary means of promoting services among older individuals. Outdoor advertising is effectively used near the location of the fitness club or gym.
- Search advertising and SEO. In the modern world, every fitness business should have its own website with thoughtful branding and positioning. However, search advertising in Google or SEO optimization may not be beneficial for every case. In most instances, it makes little sense to spend money on search advertising or SEO optimization if the club is well-known locally, and finding the club's website on the internet is not a challenging task for interested individuals. Such promotion makes sense only when the club has unique advantages, targets users not only from a specific location, and/or positions itself as elite.
- Social media and content marketing. Social media pages are crucial channels for promoting fitness services. Creating unique and interesting content about sports and a healthy lifestyle aligns well with social media, conforms to their essence, and has a high chance of going viral. Therefore, marketing for fitness clubs and gyms in digital channels should primarily focus on advertising and non-advertising promotion in social networks.
- Reputation management and customer interaction. The widespread use of social media automatically necessitates careful and balanced collaboration with reviews and comments. Neglecting this aspect can significantly damage the reputation of a fitness club, leading to a decline in interest from potential clients and business decline.
- Partnership and collaboration with the local community. Sponsorship initiatives to support local sports teams, sports schools, open house days, workshops, and participation in local community events make a significant contribution to building relationships with the community and help attract new clients.
- Involvement of celebrities and thought leaders. Involving prominent athletes, primarily, and distinguished individuals from other spheres of public life in marketing programs is crucial for clubs and facilities positioning themselves as elite establishments. For clubs in other price categories, such activity is also beneficial but should be within the marketing budget.
- Seasonal and temporary offers. Demand in the fitness industry is highly sensitive to pricing promotions and limited pricing offers, actively used by many companies. Most subscriptions are sold as promotional offers.
Equally important is the long-term retention of clients, for which a specific set of marketing programs within the establishment is necessary. Motivating clients to continue their workouts is the main goal of internal club marketing.
- Psychological Atmosphere. The fitness club should strive to create a psychological atmosphere that encourages members to continue training from month to month and year to year. A well-trained staff plays a key role in subtly assisting in its creation, fostering connections among club members, and promoting friendly relationships.
- Variety of Alternatives and Training Programs. Clients should be offered alternatives in terms of what, how, when, and with whom to train—personal training, group sessions, sections, strength training, cardio workouts, crossfit, and more.
- Goal Setting and Process. Clients need to establish goals and progress metrics. While weight and physical indicators are great, they don't always work for everyone. Simplified and achievable metrics, such as a mobile app where clients receive virtual incentives like rankings, medals, badges for attendance, time spent in the gym, and workout quality, can be more effective. Organizing contests, adding gaming and competitive elements, or training challenges also enhance participation and motivation.
- Modern Quality Equipment. Quality equipment and its balanced quantity are factors for long-term membership in the club. Clubs that poorly maintain equipment or lack a complete inventory quickly lose members.
- Care and Support Services. Fitness clubs should demonstrate comprehensive care for the health and appearance of clients. Some clients highly value the opportunity to discuss general issues related to training and a healthy lifestyle. Additional services, such as wellness coaching, should be offered to such groups.
- Hygiene and Comfort. Special attention should be given to hygiene areas, ensuring impeccable cleanliness and comfort. It's also essential to devise and subtly implement a code of conduct among club members to minimize potential negative factors. For example, some visitors may not appreciate the use of aerosol deodorants in changing rooms and other practices.
- Loyalty Programs. Additional bonuses for active attendance and achieving specific results (perhaps in gaming, contests, or virtual realms) can create additional financial incentives for continuing workouts.
It should be noted that within one article, we cannot show all the pitfalls or demonstrate all the marketing methods and tools specific to the fitness industry. In other words, these are just a few examples of quite general marketing approaches that can be applied to fitness business. From a practical point of view, everything is much more complicated - the choice of a specific marketing strategy and tools depends on the target audience, competitive environment, and unique advantages of the company, etc. At the same time, it is desirable to understand that fitness marketing may encounter a number of specific problems that are unique to each individual case and require an individual approach to their solution.
Achieving the commercial objectives of a company through effective marketing requires a deep understanding of the market situation, consumer needs, the ability to analyze and explore alternatives, and a creative approach to problem-solving. Our company has extensive experience in defining optimal marketing strategies for our clients' businesses, creating a strong brand and market positioning, as well as developing a marketing mix and implementing the chosen strategy. You can familiarize yourself with the services and solutions our company offers on the "Services
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