How can we thrill Generation Z afresh for fitness clubs?
Exercising together, receiving feedback as well as interacting online and offline: this is what counts to GenZ. How does this young target group tick, how do we reach out to them and bring them back into the studios after the pandemic?
Generation Z are among the most active groups in fitness clubs – once they have joined as members. For fitness clubs the challenge is to address this target group with the right convincing message and matching offers. Here digitalisation plays a decisive role.
Who is GenZ?
By ‘GenZ’ we mean young people born around the turn of the millennium. Generation Z follows Generation Y, which is also referred to as Millennials or Digital Natives. In contrast with their predecessors Generation Z have grown up entirely in a digitalised society. Smartphones have been the No. 1 everyday objects for them since day one. This generation is characterised by a high level of prosperity and a strong desire for free development, self-determination and “work-life balance”. Family, friends and fun in life are rated as more important than the career. And: Generation Z is health conscious.
New demands are made on a healthy working world
As Christian Scholz, former professor of organisation, personnel and information management at the University of the Saarland, describes in his book “Generation Z”, these young adults are no longer prepared to put up with job-related stress. With their parents they have experienced stress and burn-out or marriages destroyed by overtime. A study of Campus M21 in Nuremberg shows that almost 90% of GenZ want health promotion schemes at the workplace. Fresh fruit, ergonomic workstations and cooperations with fitness clubs are relevant criteria for job seekers. But Scholz issues a warning: beware of conventional health proposals – these will more likely make this target group used to managing just about everything by Smartphone Apps smirk.
Why this generation is so important for the fitness industry
“Generation Z has a healthier lifestyle”, Scholz said as early as 2017 in his feature for the health report of the Barmer sickness fund: “More exercise, healthier food, less alcohol.” This is also why this young target group is so exciting for the fitness sector. Their focus is on self optimisation. This is why sports brands like the successful German Fitnessapp Freeletics use such slogans as “Be the Best of You!” To GenZ exercise is the ideal way to find their balance, the right way to act out and push themselves to the limit. While for the previous generations alcohol consumption and outrageous partying ranked high on the agenda especially in younger years this new generation wants more: they want to let off steam with a purpose – and work to improve themselves and their performance.
Fitness goes social
Another key reason for the fitness trend of Generation Z are the effects of social media, digital body measurements and Apps. Posting personal sports achievements – be it training statistics, finished photos or fitness selfies is commonplace. A Les Mills study dating from 2019 showed that Generation Z is the most active category of members in fitness clubs. 87% of them exercise three times a week or more.
Out-of-the-box thinking after the pandemic
In the 2019 study Keith Burnet, Les Mills CEO Global Markets, already noted: “The new generation of fitness club members loves trying out new things. Fitness clubs have to respond to these wishes and offer the complete line-up of training options geared to the lifestyle of this target group.”
This trend has now increased many times over. During the global COVID-19 crisis that saw fitness clubs having to close for many months, GenZ members have shifted gear. Digital fitness offers have played a prominent role for this online-savvy target group during this period. At the same time, sports are a key component of GenZ’s everyday life during the pandemic. In a Freeletics study dated April 2021, 69% of Germans aged 18 to 24 said they are particularly delighted with their regular exercise now because it is one of the few things they can have under control during the pandemic.
Sports as a social event
The same group states in the study that 57% of them can’t wait to exercise together with others again after the pandemic. After all, the social aspect of sports plays a key role to GenZ, like it did for the millennials. They love to try out new workouts with other people and be inspired by others in their healthy lifestyle. Since those with a good immune system overcame COVID infections better there will probably be a general trend towards more health and exercise across generations over the next few months. At present, nobody can forecast how strong the run of fitness clubs will be. Especially with the digital Generation Z, forecasts predict that hybrid fitness concepts, i.e. a blend of online workouts at home (e.g. via Apps or Youtube), outdoor training (such as running, cycling or hiking) and fitness club visits will determine routine in future.
Reach out to Generation Z now
Principally, GenZ has a critical attitude towards consumption and spends money very carefully. In times where information can be researched and compared at any time, this generation trusts the previous generations rather than market claims. Nevertheless, these young people with their avid interest in health are prepared to spend the corresponding funds on premium offerings in the fields of fitness, wellness and healthy nutrition. According to an American study, some 70% of Generation Z watch YouTube for over 2 hours a day and are decisively influenced in their buying decisions by this streaming channel but also by other social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Furthermore, TV – preferably streaming providers such as Netflix – radio and print media also play a part in this generation’s media consumption.
Marketing tips for fitness clubs
The challenge for the re-opening of fitness clubs, which can be expected in the early summer of 2021, is therefore to call to action aimed at existing and potential new members with creative and authentic measures. This can be emotional success stories from the community or group challenges done both online and offline. GenZ particularly appreciates so-called touchpoints, where they are actively involved themselves. Cliched advertising messages, however, virtually bounce back from Generation Z. So to target this young generation it will be vital to run interactive marketing activities deliberately across various analogue and digital media channels.