As the market value in the gym and fitness industry reaches an estimated £4.7 billion this year, what sort of challenges does this present? And how can you tackle them?
According to Leisure DB’s latest report, the news is very positive for the fitness industry. Their research reveals that there are now 9.7 million fitness members in the UK, which has boosted the penetration rate to an all-time high of 14.9%. To put it into layman’s terms, a staggering 1 in every 7 people are members of a gym in the UK.
There are now 293 extra gym facilities in the UK this year, taking the grand total to 6,728. This may all sound like great news for members, but for the fitness industry, these stats pose some real challenges.
You see, while the industry might be booming with a new generation of health-conscious individuals eager to get fit, how can you ensure your business is at the forefront of their minds?
The two biggest challenges in the fitness industry
With so many fitness facilities to choose from, attracting and retaining members has and will remain the core challenges for many businesses in the fitness industry.
The truth is, it’s a crowded market online, with lots of new brands competing for social influence. Better offers, smarter geometric targeting and a wider variety of classes and equipment.
While the average customer will do some sort of research into local gyms before committing, practicality usually dominates the other factors.
And then there’s the issue of retaining your members over a long period of time. The low-cost market accounts for 15% of gyms in the market, yet they hold 35% of membership in the UK. This strong grip on the market can be largely accredited to the attitudes of the standard gym-goer.
Understanding your customers
To gain and retain more members, it’s essential to step into the shoes of your customers and understand what they look for.
Further industry research revealed that only 15% of gym usage is between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. As a result, many businesses in the fitness industry have had to extend their opening hours to accommodate working professionals plying their trades between 9 pm and 5 pm.
In light of this, more and more members are opting for gyms with 24/7 opening hours. This flexibility allows them to fit their workouts in around their busy lifestyles.
Communication methods and technology are also playing a pivotal role in the ever-changing shift in the fitness sector, helping gyms to lower costs and be more competitive in the marketplace.
For instance, The Gym Group has recently taken out most of their administrative processes, with membership being managed by members online. They are also able to run extensive data mining on gym usage by monitoring every machine in real-time. While their customer relationship management system uses technology to function as well.
Another example highlighting the correlation between technology and growth is the globally connected gym equipment market. Within the next year, it’s expected to expand by an impressive CAGR of close to 45%, due to the ever-increasing consumer demand for mobile health devices. The connected gym equipment comes with built-in mobile app support for a complete member experience. Which leads me onto my next point.
According to The State of SMS, there are 79.14 million active mobile devices in the UK, with 80% of these being smartphones and 20% basic featurephones.
Ofcom’s findings recently state the significant rise in mobile technology, with 93% of adults using mobiles.
In effect, mobile phones, and smartphones, in particular, encompass virtually all other marketing and communication channels. Traditional forms of advertising like TV, radio and print, plus health apps, emails and social media can all be accessed via their personal devices. So, it’s no wonder why the younger generation spends an average of 5 hours a day on their phones.
The rise in mobile usage and technological integrations are also streamlining the fitness industry, meaning businesses are having to get more creative with their efforts to gain and retain more members.
How the rise of the mobile society can be used
The significant shift in customer behaviour and the thirst for mobile technology can be harnessed to tackle the core challenges in the fitness industry.
While location can’t feasibly be addressed, the fitness industry can attract more registrations and retain members for longer with a simple shift in their processes.
For a more holistic member experience, SMS is a key channel the fitness industry needs to start considering. The State of SMS reveals that there are 8.3 million people currently opted in to receive SMS from the fitness industry.
The average performance stats are also impressive, with 98% of text communications being opened, 90% read within the first three minutes, and 32% responded to. Therefore, your message is almost guaranteed to be seen.
SMS can be connected to most self-management services for a more integrated experience and to help reduce manual costs. For instance, automated messages can be sent directly to a member’s phone to remind them of relevant classes they’ve recently attended or reminders about upcoming events.
Email communications containing pins and payment reminders can be followed up with an instant SMS to ensure an important message is seen. And with most people carrying their phones around all day, a promotional SMS offering extra supplements, membership upgrades and upcoming events should help keep members engaged.
SMS short codes and a keyword can be used to promote your gym memberships outside and on printed flyers. Once they’ve texted in and you have rightfully attained their mobile data, you can send them an automated SMS with a link to a mobile sign-up page for a far simpler registration process.
In this ever-competitive market, SMS is a key channel in the success of winning the war on getting your message across to those 9.7 million members and retaining them for longer.
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