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Marketing to “20 Somethings”

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This age group has traditionally been thought of as the leading health club market. Not so anymore. The age group with the most disposable income is really the baby boomers. But that doesn’t mean that the “20 Somethings” are not interested in our services. What it does mean is that we have to talk to them differently than we talk to our other markets.

So the question is, how do we talk to them? Just as with any other target market, we need to study their profile. What do they value, what do they want to do at our clubs, when are they available to come to the club and what do they expect to pay for our service? Once we answer some of these questions regarding the “20 Somethings” in our market, then we can proceed.

Let me answer some of these questions for our market as an example.

1) What do they value? I believe they value coolness and an environment of cutting-edge equipment and classes. They want their club or gym to offer the most current services available.

2) What do they want to do at our club? Most often they want to workout on the equipment, dabble with the technology that we offer and challenge themselves with the most difficult classes as well as classes that are sexy and fun (like Zumba).

3) When are they available to come to the club? Generally they come in the evening and on the weekends, although not too early in the morning on the weekends. In many cases they have jobs, but you have to take into account that some of those jobs will be in retail or the restaurant business until they find employment in their chosen fields. This factor could cause some of them to use the club during the weekday afternoon hours.

4) Finally, what do we expect them to pay for our services? If you ask them, they will say as little as possible. In reality, they cannot afford as much as your older adult member (over 30 years).

Given the above answers, we designed a strategy for marketing to 20 Somethings that is based primarily on a price point. We created two special membership types that cover the 20 Somethings and made their rates lower. We have a Youth Rate (ages 10 – 24) and a Young Adult Rate (ages 25 – 29). Both of these rates are significantly lower than our regular adult rate (ages 30 – 64) and are offered with either a one-year or a two-year commitment. The rates are lowered by $10 per month with the two-year commitment. We made sure that these rates were competitive with nearby smaller clubs and gyms that could service this market so that price could not be an objection. This way we are able to garner these memberships when the individual is young and subsequently have a chance to create a bond as well as brand loyalty, so that by the time they are 30 years old, they are well ensconced in our system and are willing to stay for the duration.

Now that the correct membership system is in place (that is number one) we are able to market our product. With the 20 Somethings, we do this using both traditional and digital marketing measures.

In our case, traditional marketing measures utilize direct mail postcards. We always emphasize the benefits of the club experience as it applies to them. For example, we talk about or illustrate through imagery the fun they will have when they are here and the cool people they can meet (other people like themselves). In addition, we always talk about our competitive pricing with this group. We know that this is a buying decision for them and we don’t hold back on the details. (See images for a sample of one of our direct mail pieces for this target market.)

In the realm of digital marketing we employ QR codes on our direct mail pieces that are directed to lead generation pages on our website offering free passes. We ask for their age in the lead generation questionnaire and if we get it, we can design targeted e-mail campaigns that drive them to our Facebook page and Twitter accounts. We are also dabbling with mass text messaging to this group by asking for permission to collect their cell phone in order to text them about upcoming promotions, special classes and other offers.

Our social media by its very nature speaks well to this target market because they are the ones who utilize Facebook and Twitter the most. We keep our social media strategies and campaign content heavy and high on the fun factor. We are always posting funny pictures, asking provocative questions and dispensing thought-provoking information that keeps them returning to our pages.

Avoid this pitfall: Don’t assume all 20 Somethings are single and want to party. There are those, especially in the 25–30 year range, that have married and are starting families. Honestly, my gut feeling is this group represents about 25 percent of this market. I think they will still respond to your cool, current approach, but you want to make sure you have some amenities that make your club comfortable for kids, too. This means mentioning your terrific childcare services as well, or any other kid-friendly services you have, such as a café or kids’ classes.

The overarching message about marketing to 20 Somethings is to be brave and fun loving and try to think like them. You can also test your ideas on the 20 Somethings that you know, or perhaps you are one. In that case, I’d love to hear from you and what your ideas are for this particular marketing.

Linda Mitchell is the director of marketing, public relations and charitable giving for Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Penn. She can be reached via e-mail at linda@newtownathletic.com.

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Rachel Zabonick

Rachel Zabonick is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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