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Keep Up with Evolving Consumer Expectations

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Consumers Expectation

As consumer expectations are changing after the pandemic, remember these tips in order to keep up with the hybrid trends.

As we emerge from lockdown, fitness consumer behaviors and expectations are changing faster than ever before, and the implications for operators of brick-and-mortar health and fitness clubs are both far-reaching and pressing.

Neither are these implications unique to our sector. We can’t stick with “business as usual” and hope things blow over or assume the new rules don’t apply to us.

Because the reality is this, in a recent survey by Accenture — spanning 25,000 consumers across 22 countries — a full 50% said the pandemic had caused them to rethink their personal purpose and re-evaluate what’s important to them in life. 

It’s also altered how they choose products and services, with the most important drivers — across all ages, sociodemographic groups and sectors — now ease and convenience, a personalized service, and trust and reputation.

The Digital Opportunity

When you superimpose those three drivers on the health club sector, the implications are incredibly clear; consumers now expect a fitness offering they can consume wherever and whenever they want, that’s tailored to their needs and that’s delivered by a reputable brand.

In other words, they expect a hybrid offering — with personalization powered by their data — that’s delivered by their trusted gym brand. And they expect it to be incredibly easy and convenient. 

The stats say it all. Over half of gym members now expect a digital offering from their club and with spend on digital fitness globally having increased by over 50% in 2020 — to $4.5 billion — it’s clear they aren’t afraid to spend money to get what they want.

This is a huge opportunity for club operators.

Plan and Commit

A share of this digital fitness pot won’t simply land in your lap, though. Fundamental change is needed, and it starts by properly scoping your plans. Strategy is more important than ever. 

Acknowledge and embrace the change that’s happening, recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a strategy you can execute.

Realize, too, that this isn’t just something you can dabble in. Digital must be an ongoing, integral part of the business — a critical business unit that receives the same levels of attention as your physical space. 

Then work out how to monetize it, so digital moves from being a cost center to something that can generate revenue — both from existing members and by reducing ‘gymtimidation’ from new audiences too.

Map out the customer journey, determining where digital and in-person best complement each other in your hybrid experience. Hybrid is absolutely not about replacing people, it’s about ensuring the best possible experience at every single customer touchpoint. Identify where you can automate the mundane and shift that investment into human capital at key touchpoints.

Don’t Get Left Behind

Yet even with this focus on people, hybrid is unavoidably about embracing technology.

Operators must use disruption to their advantage, adopting and accelerating new technologies that make their members’ lives easier, more convenient, more personalized — ensuring their brands remain the trusted brands of choice.

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Jake Shand

Jake Shand is the head of business development USA for Wexer. He can be contacted at jake.shand@wexer.com or alternatively visit wexer.com.

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