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Millennial Membership: Conversion, Engagement and Retention Strategies

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Consumer products and services are almost entirely available through mobile applications that provide on-demand access — car and rental service, food delivery, hotels and office space. Not only are these services available on mobile devices, but they are also available at the last minute, in maximally flexible and wholly customizable increments.

Millennials unequivocally equate customer experience with brand perception — with 74% of millennials reporting they will switch to a different brand if they endure a suboptimal experience, it is important for companies to take a customer-centric approach to value delivery.

In the fitness industry, clubs must embrace new product delivery mechanisms to best cater to millennial consumption preferences. With millennials’ multifaceted fitness regimens, clubs spend twice as much recruiting new members as they do retaining existing members, according to IBISWorld. How can clubs attract more millennials, keep them engaged and maximize retention?

As millennials get older and more have young children, their expectations for flexibility will increase, and any negative customer service experience may deter brand alignment, according to ICSC. A poor customer service experience may result in negative online reviews and dissociation from brands in perpetuity. Across Google and Yelp, there are nearly universally negative reviews focused primarily on payment disputes and lack of flexibility, rather than the actual facility experience.

Select fitness brands have stayed on their toes and embraced changes in consumption trends and preferences. These brands have incorporated flexible programming, extended hours, added childcare offerings and implemented new CRM protocols.

The notion of added value is another great way to secure customer loyalty and brand alignment. Beyond traditional special offers, such as price cutting on membership and initiation fees, many club chains have expanded their promotional strategies to include “sticky” value-add services, such as access to exclusive events, recovery equipment, coworking spaces and health services, including massages, personal training and nutritional coaching.

Getting customers to commit is difficult, but creating personalized experiences is one approach to keeping them engaged and feeling as if they are receiving maximal value. Other strategies include implementing technologies that permit shared mobile and social experiences for friends, as well as offering lower-tiered access. Loyalty rewards function to increase customer stickiness and decrease churn. Millennials are more likely to stay loyal to a brand because of loyalty rewards than any other generation, according to Yes Lifestyle Marketing.

By incorporating flexible and innovative programming into an increasingly complex ecosystem, clubs can cater to millennial consumption trends and preferences to best deliver value to this segment of the population.

Whether it is month-to-month memberships or carry-over balances on certain classes or amenity access, clubs must embrace new strategies that cater to consumer demands. Implementing these strategies will not only empower the customer, but also lead to commitment and loyalty.

Austin Cohen is the founder and CEO of FlexIt. Justin Turetsky is on the founding team and is director of business development.

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