Good intentions for the new year – marketing the fitness industry
A discussion with studio operators, marketing directors and representatives from the industry
January is probably the most important month of the year for the fitness industry. Millions of people make new year’s resolutions, and health and fitness are a major component of these. Following a holiday season in which many people enjoy time with their families and the comforts of life, the start of the new year quickly turns people's attention to their own body and health. For the fitness industry, this is the most important time of the year. But does January business take care of itself, or could special marketing measures be used to attract new members before or after Christmas? Furthermore, is it possible to use the holiday season to increase the loyalty of existing members? Which topics and trends are the target group focusing on this year? FIBO discussed these issues with figures from the industry.
Strengthening customer loyalty in the Christmas season ‘Halle 22’, a health and fitness centre in Willich, undertakes a number of big and small marketing measures in the run-up to Christmas to bring its members together even outside of training, says Thomas Mathes. He is an Authorised Company Officer in charge of Marketing and Sales at Halle 22, a facility with a 4,500-square-metre training area that is also active in the health field with an adjacent physiotherapy practice and its own rehabilitation association. Mathes: “An evening with mulled wine, a wintry dog walk followed by a meal of waffles, a large children's Christmas party in which Father Christmas pays a visit, a wellness evening and the Halle 22 Advent calendar containing bonuses, discounts and surprises – all these things help strengthen customer loyalty in this hectic time of the year while showing our members just how much we value them.” At the start of the new year, the company also directs its attention to potential new members. According to Thomas Mathes, Halle 22’s new year's letter to its members includes a ‘Good intentions voucher’ with a discount for new members that they can give to their friends. Mathes: “Starting in mid-December, we also begin internally promoting our ‘myline’ eight-week weight-loss courses for January. Then, at the end of the month we move on to our new external campaign – ‘LESS is more’ – focused on ‘Eliminating pounds, pain and stress’ using both new and conventional media channels.”
Vouchers as a Christmas gift for the new year Frank Böhme is the Managing Partner of Just Fit, a family business that was established 35 years ago and which currently operates 22 fitness clubs in the Cologne region. For him, January practically takes care of itself: “For years now, we’ve limited our January advertising to image campaigns, focusing primarily on radio in recent years. In 2020, we will for the first time – together with our partners at the start-up Divinely HQ – also be making use of viral marketing to kick off the new year. We recently began using this tool with considerable success and were able to double the number of visitors to our website within the first two months.” Even so, Böhme will be supplementing the brand campaign with a sales effort targeted at the new year: “In December, we sell special vouchers as part of a holiday campaign. These allow new members to train at our facilities for two months free of charge without a contract so that they can give Just Fit a try.”
Body & Mind – the new mindfulness trend and new year’s resolutions Mindfulness is set to be one of the buzzwords of the new year. The trend towards a holistic approach to fitness – including healthy nutrition, sufficient sleep and meditation – has already made itself felt in 2019, and it is also an area of focus for Freeletics, a digital fitness firm and app provider. Ellie Hughes, PR Team Lead at Freeletics in Munich, explains: “Starting in January, Freeletics’s portfolio of AI-based personalised training experience will also include programmes for mindfulness. Audio content and coaching in a podcast-like format are designed to offer our users the chance not only to focus on their bodies, but their minds as well. We have planned a comprehensive marketing campaign on this topic for January that we will be running on a wide variety of channels.” As with most Freeletics campaigns, Hughes says the focus here will be on social networks.
December is often a time for reflection, and this sentiment might also be debuting in new year's resolutions for 2020. Mindfulness is a major theme today, and this year for the first time lots of these resolutions will include more than just weight targets – they will also be focusing on lifestyle, an awareness of stress and achieving spiritual balance. Those who account for these trends and employ proven and successful measures to foster customer loyalty can deliver new motivation to existing members while reaching additional target groups.