Staying Active – Customer Engagement Now for Customer Retention Later

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States, in office from 1945 to 1953. He led the country through the final stages of World War II, was […]

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States, in office from 1945 to 1953. He led the country through the final stages of World War II, was instrumental in rebuilding and shaping the economy of post-war Western Europe and established NATO. Truman clearly had a huge impact and throughout his leadership, one of his favorite phrases was the Latin one mens sana in corpore sano, usually translated as ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body.’ 

Fast forward 70 years and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find the USA dominating the global market for health and fitness clubs. The global fitness and health club industry generates more than 80 billion U.S. dollars in revenue per year of which around 30 billion U.S. dollars was attributable to the United States alone.

Sure, running has seen a huge resurgence of late, with gyms shut due to coronavirus.  Many people found themselves in a situation resembling house arrest, their short daily foray into the great outdoors to practice this solo sport being their only diversion. When the current situation finally runs its course and fitness centers fully open up again to their customers, the global health and fitness club market will resume. It’s questionable whether it will resume the rapid growth track it was on though before COVID-19 took hold.

Prior to events, the global health and fitness club market was projected to grow at a CAGR of almost 8% during the period 2020 to 2025. Although green shoots of growth will undoubtedly be there, it is doubtful this earlier forecast will become reality, post pandemic.

To counteract revenue losses due to these businesses being closed for this period, new strategies for customer engagement will be a differentiator. To start, those who made efforts to find ways to continue interacting with customers over the past few months will be ahead of the game. Simple communications to keep all informed about closings, remote/online classes and even motivational tips have kept some fitness and health clubs top of mind. When the doors CAN open for good, customers will be lined up.

Generational differences relating to the industry are also important to understand as these will influence future success from all angles, including how companies need to go about engaging with customers. Knowing your market and how to segment communication strategies to meet the different challenges is a ‘must do.’

Millennials (born from 1980 to 1999) now make up by far the largest group of customers, representing 33% of all health club members in the USA, followed by Generation X (born from 1965 to 1979) at 24%, Baby Boomers (born from 1945 to 1964) at 22%, Generation Z (those born after the year 2000) at 14% and the Silent Generation (born before 1945) at 7%, according to The 2019 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report.

Given Gen X is more likely to be the consumer of health clubs than any other demographic, health clubs have to make special efforts to keep this consumer segment engaged. Not an easy task but this is where multichannel offerings and omnichannel capabilities really come in and help with the heavy lifting.

SMS is ubiquitous and absolutely needs to be a mobile channel considered to deliver marketing and transactional content but to engage effectively with Gen X, over-the-top (OTT) chat capabilities (such as those like WhatsApp Business brings with them) need to be in the engagement mix.

Competition in the fitness and health club arena will intensify greatly in the upcoming financially challenging years and all industry players have to do everything possible to distinguish their service offerings. They need to provide a unique value proposition and benefits to survive. Mobile clearly has a huge role to play in this.

Content customers find valuable sent accurately and on time will always go a huge way to shoring up and developing your client relationships. Mitto knows this first-hand and is here to help you every step of the way. It isn’t just good to converse, it’s great.