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What Discounts Say About Your Brand in a Post-COVID-19 World


We can all admit the post-COVID-19 world has added a new lens on some once standard operating procedures and viewpoints. The new way consumers are buying and thinking about their daily activities has shifted, and new data emerges daily.

One thing that has not changed is when someone is attracted to join your gym over another one nearby solely based on a larger presented discount, they are making a purely transactional decision, not an emotional one. A transactional member is always the first to leave when a better deal comes along. They also continue to expect more discounts and align the brand/business with monetary manipulation.

On the other hand, an emotional purchaser tends to pay more, stay longer, refer their friends and family, and will engage with your other profit centers (personal training, classes, events, etc.) more often than someone who was simply chasing a discount.

How does this above-mentioned known consumer brand perspective shift with a post-COVID-19 lens? Some early evidence is emerging, and it is very interesting.

Post-COVID-19, the use of aggressive discounts may actually convey a slightly problematic message to your prospects and general community, oftentimes resulting in the following consumer conclusions:

  • This business is okay with overcrowding their space, which is a red flag.
  • They must be desperate for money — desperation breeds carelessness. 
  • A “discount gym” is likely not investing in the highest cleanliness protocols, which is not safe.

So what is the solution to avoid discounting yourself out of business?

Fitness is still a pain product. While we are seeing the first-to-open gyms initially benefit from a welcomed spike in traffic by the early-adopter, stir-crazed and cabin-fevered locals, the rest of the cautious and concerned consumers are watching and waiting from their couch. What will get those people off their couches and considering a positive lifestyle change for their future health and wellness?

First, there are some non-negotiable shifts in your messaging — which you have likely already been digesting and developing for your anticipated reopening. They must see a concerted and strong message efforted to ensure overall safety for members and staff — that is not an option in this current environment, but what then?

An alternative to discounts is the concept of driving consumer behavior — pulling in the “couch sitters” — with the use of incentives. Consider what story incentives tell, as opposed to discounts:

  • The business is generously investing in giving members something they do not need to, which likely means they are thoughtful with their staff and cleanliness as well.
  • This business cares about members and their health/safety.
  • Members enjoy getting something free for doing something that is good for their health. They value this relationship and will recruit/refer others to join. 

In the post-COVID-19 world, do not discount yourself out of business. Consider incentives. 

Brian Mitchell is the CEO of Promotion Vault. He can be reached at bmitchell@promotionvault.com.


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