In an attempt to control the COVID-19 pandemic and stop the coronavirus from spreading, most people on the planet are willing to sacrifice their person-to-person connections. To compensate for it, most have started relying on technology to provide connections and access to a number of fitness brands and services that make their lives easier.
Adults all over the world are spending more time at home than ever. Digital-savvy businesses are taking the opportunity, not only to strengthen the relationship they have with already-existing customers but also to grab the attention of new ones. Since traditional revenue streams for gym owners are practically nonexistent, many have turned to online fitness as a source of money.
For some, this doesn’t come as a surprise at all. While people naturally love the gym-going experience, more than 60% prefer to mix things up by exercising both at the gym and at home. For new business owners, the ongoing crisis has provided an opportunity to find their voice and stand out in the overcrowded fitness industry.
Today, we’re going to take a peek at the industry.
We’re going to see how the fitness and wellness industry survived the hit from the coronavirus, how companies have adapted their marketing efforts to fit the situation, and what the biggest fitness trends are.
Skip ahead to:
- How Did the Fitness Industry Take the Coronavirus Hit?
- How Did All of This Affect Gym Goers?
- Top Fitness Marketing Trends for 2021
How Did the Fitness Industry Take the Coronavirus Hit?
Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge effect on the current state of affairs. Being trapped indoors just as the weather starts getting warmer isn’t how most people imagined their 2020.
Even people who were accustomed to exercising and eating healthy regularly were forced to stay home, sit on the couch all day, and rely on meal delivery services for nutrition. Thankfully, due to a large increase in free time, many people decided to do something about their health.
Just how did people address these changes? And how did this affect people’s habits? How many regular members did the gyms, fitness, and wellness centers lose during this period? These are some of the questions a recent MiQ report tried to answer.
1. Fitness Centers
As soon as the lockdown started, both major gym chains and small fitness centers started seeing a decrease in membership. The daily fitness passes have seen the biggest decline. However, monthly and yearly memberships have also decreased drastically during the first two months.
2. Fitness Apps
Because mandatory social distancing regulations have made going to the gym basically impossible, fitness apps and channels have filled that void. Numerous apps like the Nike Training Club, Adidas Runtastic, Core Power Yoga, and Daily Burn have benefited greatly. Some of them even waived their premium memberships and gave free access to users for the time being.
3. Fitness Technology
Fitness technology as a whole also saw an increase in usage. As a matter of fact, even basic fitness accessories, such as sportswear, fitness equipment, and training shoes all remained hot-sellers during this period. Out of all developed countries in the world, the United Kingdom has seen the biggest increase in demand for accessories like weights, machines, and wearables.
4. Fitness Goals
How did the situation impact peoples’ well-being and goals? Better yet, are people still willing to exercise? Surprisingly, yes, they’re definitely willing to put in time and effort into exercise. Addressing physical, mental, and emotional side effects of the lockdown have become a priority to many. In the United States, interests in wellness have increased by almost 65% since the pandemic started earlier this year.
How Did All of This Affect Gym Goers?
Consumer habits changed quite a bit during the pandemic. Gym goers aren’t any different. But how much did the habits change? Did the consumers manage to maintain their fitness schedules during the pandemic? How many of them even tried to do it? Most importantly, are the consumers willing to go back to the gym?
Here’s what you need to know…
1. Virtual Fitness is Now the New Normal
While adapting to certain things was hard, it seems like adapting to virtual fitness was easy for most people. In 2019, only around 7% of gym-goers tried participating in live streaming training sessions. Just a year later, a staggering 80% of people have tried it.
Now, around 85% of consumers participate in live streaming workouts at least once a week. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Yoga are the most popular classes among both genders. What’s more, 43% of people plan on using live streaming even after the pandemic is over.
2. Different Reactions in the Different States
Compared to other developed countries, Americans are least likely to return to gyms this year. However, the number of returning heavily depends on the state you’re located in. People in some states are more willing to go back to physical locations in 2021.
For example, according to research from RunRepeat, Georgia is the state in which people are least likely to return to gyms in the next few months. More than 70% of people won’t return to gyms any time soon. The state is followed by Maryland (63%) and New Jersey (58%).
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The latter has the highest percentage of people who’ve already canceled with 43%. On the other side of the Spectrum, we have Tennessee, where only around 43% of people aren’t willing to return soon. Illinois (44%) and Washington (45%) are just behind Tennessee.
3. People Aren’t Ready to Start Training On Location
The fact that people prefer on-location training to home workouts probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. While live streaming has given a good alternative, 8 out of 10 consumers still prefer working out in-person with personal trainers.
Going to fitness and health makes people feel like a part of a larger community. Accountability is also one of the reasons people cite the most why they prefer working out in person. However, a vast majority of people say they don’t feel comfortable visiting fitness centers for the next year.
Top Fitness Marketing Trends for 2021
People who own fitness centers and gyms have to take into account all of this. Especially when they’re working out their marketing strategy for 2021. Knowing what people want and what their habits are can help you when shaping your strategy.
Luckily for you, the potential market is huge and 9 out of 10 consumers haven’t made a purchasing decision when they start an online search. There are many ways to ensure that your fitness service gets found online.
Here are the four biggest fitness marketing trends for 2021 you need to know about…
1. Voice Search
Do you use Alexa or Siri to look up things you need? Well, you can bet that your potential clients are using them. According to recent research, nearly 50% of all online searches was helped by a voice assistant. What does that mean for your business?
Simply put, it means that you need to optimize your content for voice search.
You should start by researching and recognizing the biggest questions your potential clients ask. Then, you need to create content that will answer those questions and subsequently, lead them to your website. You can use the same tactic to attract foot traffic once things go back to normal.
To attract the right people, you need to create what marketers call “micro-moments.” When a customer knows what they want, four different micro-moments occur, including:
- “I want to know” moment
- “I want to go” moment
- “I want to do” moment
- “I want to buy” moment
During each and every one of these moments, the consumers expect you to deliver content that will fulfill their needs. It’s important to anticipate what they exactly want before these moments happen. Then, you can commit yourself to being there for your customers when they need it the most.
3. Chat Bots
The chatbot market is huge. It’s only going to grow even more. According to Forbes, in less than 5 years, the global chat bot market will be worth somewhere around $7.7 billion with more than a billion active users. If you want to make use of them, you need to jump on the hype train early.
Chatbots are there to help individuals seeking certain information. Your website probably has customer support, but you can’t really have a 24/7-working staff. That would simply cost too much money. Automation can help you combat this problem.
You can use chatbots and have them engage your visitors when no one’s around. Chat bots can’t answer basic questions your visitors have, and they can also help them register an account or subscribe to your fitness program.
4. User-Generated Content
Your clients probably post a lot of pictures. Some like to keep track of their fitness progress that way. Well, this gives you a great opportunity to market your fitness business without actually spending a dime on content creation.
You can encourage your clients to post before-after pictures or to stream during workouts. Just remember to tell them to tag your business before they share the picture on social media. You can use your social accounts to repost their content and expand your reach.
New Year has come and gone, and from the look of things, for the next 6 to 12 months, business owners can expect things to stay the same. At the moment, there’s no saying when the global economy will go back to normal. But one thing is certain; consumers will continue to lean on technology for experience and connection. As a gym owner, you need to make sure that your virtual strategy is prepared to attract the attention of your target demographic.
If things stay relatively the same in 2021, the interest of your current gym members and customers-to-be will only continue to grow. Admittedly, the last year was pretty strange. Wellness and fitness businesses that managed to tweak their strategies on the fly were able to stay afloat at first, and even increase membership and boost profit in the following months. If you follow in their steps, you can do it too.
No one knows what 2021 has in store for us. However, we do know one thing: if you want to succeed, you need to stay on top of the biggest fitness industry trends at all times.