Over the past several years I’ve noticed a trend among club owners. As opposed to exploring new modes of fitness and targeted demographics, a lot of clubs attempt to reach either the same demographic by opening a club in another area, or simply bringing new programs into their already established facilities.
While there is nothing wrong with this method, I’m curious whether it would be more beneficial to your business as a whole if you could leverage secondary brands for entirely new demographics, possibly just down the street? And by secondary brands, I don’t mean a 24/7 scaled version of what you possess already.
Instead, I’m thinking of an idea that would bring you an entirely new portion of the population. Consider the demographic you’re searching for when you design new programming. So you want that “stay-at-home-mom” population that seems to be a large part of your community during the day? Could this be a stand-alone opportunity?
Within fitness there are more than a couple of ways to grow outside the four walls of your major fitness facility. Although it may seem like more work at the time, and you might incur more expenses up front, in the long run you may establish a unique brand that establishes a membership base that your club never could reach.
What this also does is provides you with a new opportunity to focus on multiple sectors without having to fit all your eggs in one basket.
Say for example your club is 75 percent male with an emphasis on strength. You have another 5 percent that is female with a similar emphasis with strength. Then you have 5 percent males focused on cardio and 10 percent of females with the same emphasis on cardio. (These numbers are strictly made up for the purpose of making a point, don’t get hung up on them).
You look at your member break down and would like to see more women focused on strength building. So you up your Les Mills group programming. The number of women focused on group strength increases, but your individual strength women shrinks, as well as your cardio-focused female population. You may also see an adjustment in the number of males in group programming, but focus on the first numbers.
Assume you go through a six-month period where the numbers seem to shift towards strength group programming. Could you have stumbled upon a popular niche within your demographic? Also, assume that during this period you’ve increased like programming to its max capacity, to the point you seem to turn members away. Although this would be a perfect scenario pointing you into the next direction, most of the time you won’t have this reaction.
The next direction in my mind would be to pursue a group facility in a separate location. This could be a smaller facility and you could create a discount for being a member at both facilities. Additionally, you’d shrink your programming at the other facility to entice members to use your new group facility. You could also create a per-class cost, or package deals for 10 sessions.
What you’ll discover is some people will stick with the basic programming you have at your facility, but you’ll have a significant portion of members that will follow top instructors to the other facility. This will allow you to test new programming at the larger club, while capitalizing on profitable group programming at your studio facility. Lastly, you’ll also reach a new demographic, one that doesn’t desire to be a member of a fitness club, but instead enjoys the studio atmosphere and group exercise.
This would allow you to cross promote and segment your demographics, allowing for greater growth potential. Additionally, you’ll be able to target your more profitable customers at both locations without losing customers to potential competitors.
Although this scenario is not perfect for everyone, when you consider growth, consider differentiating your brand and targeting new demographics. You never really know who’s business you could be missing out on.
Tyler Montgomery is the Editor-in-Chief of Club Solutions Magazine. For thoughts on his blog, the print issue or the industry, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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