Amidst all the current uncertainty, fitness brands are hedging for an unpredictable future while aligning with consumers’ upended lifestyles. Though Americans nationwide are trying to heed guidelines to stay indoors and practice social distancing, gym-goers haven’t stopped looking for ways to keep fit. Rather, they are restlessly looking for outlets to stay active and gain some normalcy in this unprecedented and frustrating time.
In a recent Scorpion study surveying consumer trends and behavior two months into the pandemic, 59% of respondents indicated that they were online for 5 or more hours a day, with a whopping 36% saying they were online for 7 or more hours. This figure is dramatically higher than even two months prior, when 29% fell into that group. With pandemic fears leading people to stay in and be online more, fitness brands who have hedged against uncertain in-person regulations by investing in digital are meeting current consumer needs. In doing so, these brands not only stay in front of their member base, but are also capturing their competitors’ customers with a brand experience tailored for an era of social distancing.
Two fitness franchises that have evolved and revolutionized their brand experiences by embracing digital are Gold’s Gym and TITLE Boxing.
TITLE On Demand is an at-home digital platform offering unlimited access to a mix of boxing, kickboxing, strength, agility, and recovery workouts. Recognizing that gyms were going to be closed and that membership retention was going to be its greatest business challenge during the pandemic, the franchise is providing TITLE On Demand free of charge to its members through September. The offer has seen tremendous adoption, with over 50% of members having engaged with TITLE On Demand, and this digital platform has been a source of revenue for franchisees who have had limited options to prevent hemorrhaging members during quarantine. Many of TITLE’s franchisees have also taken the initiative to build online communities around live streaming on social media and Zoom, keeping members active and engaged with the brand via digital experiences.
Gold’s AMP was originally designed to be an in-gym companion app for members, as well as an at-home and on-the-road workout and music app. Planning for a hybridized future melding the physical and digital, Gold’s Gym developed AMP in early 2017. By the time states began shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the app already included over 650 workouts across 14 different categories. These included audio-coached and video-guided workouts, as well as over 40 different genres of music directly licensed from labels, providing members with both immense flexibility and choice. When the pandemic struck, Gold’s Gym demonstrated the value of their brand to both members and franchisees by making AMP available to any Gold’s Gym member while integrating with gymPOS systems so franchisees could sell the app during gym shutdowns. Not only that, the app also gave franchisees a rallying point during the pandemic, with many producing video content for the platform globally. With hundreds of thousands of downloads and over 80% workout completion average, the app has seen tremendous adoption and success.
For brands that haven’t invested in digital fitness platforms or apps, it’s not too late to bolster your digital strategy to align your brand experience with current consumer trends. Your brand’s digital ads and website are the foundational elements of the current consumer’s purchasing journey and often the first impression a new customer has with your brand. They will be the gateway to engaging with your branded content during and after the pandemic. More likely than not, the Internet is where they will learn about your brand, vet it, and decide whether or not they will do business with you.
Questions for franchises:
- Is your brand represented well, with creative and consistent advertising across the entire franchise network?
- Has your online content been engaging and relevant during the pandemic?
- Does your website’s user experience (UX) remove friction and create a seamless informational or purchasing journey?
Ensuring that consumers’ online experience is intentionally thought-out and well-executed requires a comprehensive strategy as well as the ability to deploy and scale it. Brands willing to do the work not only stay top-of-mind with a consumer base who has been spending huge amounts of time online, but will also earn a unique opportunity to delight and captivate an audience who is expecting businesses to meet them where they are.