The Fitness Industry is Changing…
In the roughly 30 years of the modern health club era, big box gym formats like ours, Goodlife Fitness, LA Fitness and Golds gym have reigned supreme. For consumers, getting fit meant joining a traditional health club as a one-stop shop where they met all of their fitness needs. 20,000-30,000 sqft spaces providing a full range of cardio and strength equipment and generalized programming were the norm. People might also have some home exercise DVDs and run outdoors, but the central focus was always the health club.
The fitness consumer today has changed. Health and wellness are no longer activities to help fill your free time with but rather a core part of one’s identity. People wear yoga pants, running shoes and a fitbit everywhere they go as symbols of their active lifestyle. They no longer accept bland or boring experiences and are willing to pay for craft experiences which provide deeper benefits of community, high personalization and for some a cult-like sense of purpose and belonging. Think Crossfit, cycle studios or Orangetheory. It’s not about losing weight or getting fit – it’s about connecting with a purpose and strengthening their sense of self.
For someone to select where and what they will do for their fitness, people evaluate their options based on something called value proposition. If something’s valuable, the attributes are worth the same or more than what you’re paying. For most people, evaluating the value of a fitness membership looks a little bit like this.
Think back to grade 5 math. In this simple equation above – you increase value of a gym by maximizing the numerator (the top) of the formula and minimizing the denominator (the bottom). In other words – 10/2 is better than 2/10.
- In the face of new competitors popping up on every corner – gym’s like LA Fitness, Golds, Goodlife and even us can increase their value by in two ways:
Decrease the Denominator (bottom) by reducing price: This is essentially the race to the bottom. Clubs that go this route find themselves continually dropping their prices in hopes of increasing their value proposition. They hope that the lower price and higher value proposition will drive revenue but the flawed nature of the customer service model (ie. Sell lots of membership and god forbid if they all show up!!!) is ultimately proving to be their undoing.
- Increase the Numerator by increasing the value consumers get. The Second Group (which is actually a much smaller group) has embarked down the more difficult of the two paths. This group has decided to increase the level of their facilities, product, service and emotional experience. In addition, rather than dropping prices to increase their value proposition they have decided to increase prices and charge as though every member were showing up on a regular basis. This strategy will be more relevant in the long run because it ultimately provides members with what they need to achieve their goals.
World Health Edmonton saw this coming. Last year we hired a consulting group to figure out what brand elements we needed to add to our offering that would maximize the numerator (top of the formula) of our value proposition. The consulting group conducted a series of focus groups and surveys in the Edmonton market to determine which elements people in this market were looking for. The most interesting thing about the study was that this market’s perception of a “premium club experience” was different than any other market they had ever seen in the North America. A significant portion of the Edmonton market felt that new, shiny equipment was the main element required for a “premium experience”. In the rest of North America, it was the programming and the customer service of the club that people viewed as a premium experience – in a large part because these were the things that lead to people achieving results and becoming regularly attending members. The consulting group determined that this perception came from the fact that no one has yet to deliver programming and customer service in a manner that caused Edmonton’s market to see enough value (top of the formula not high enough).
Given this information – World Health is endeavouring to change the market’s perception of premium. If the strategy of value creation comes from maximizing the numerator in the value proposition formula – World Health is undertaking to massively redesign the elements of our value proposition as follows:
**Note** This is the actual strategy document that our management team is working off of today.
Essential = Things we know you expect at a very minimum but which will not necessarily make us unique
Signature = Things that set us apart from everyone else in the market. They help you get results and provide an experience you are willing to come back for.
The key signature items that World Health Edmonton wants to hang its hat on then are the following:
- Team 45 Training Program
- Integrated Nutrition Program
- Fitness Concierge Program
- Consistent, genuine and caring hospitality
- Transparent and Simple Sales Systems
Ultimately – these are the things that when taken advantage of, actually allow people to achieve their fitness and wellness goals.
Just as important as what you see here is what you don’t see:
- Brand new equipment every year
- Rock bottom prices
Both things we think are meant to trick consumers into thinking they are getting a premium experience – but actually do nothing to get you results.
So what does the “2017 Loading – 25%” mean? It means there are a lot of new features to the World Health membership which are in the process of getting rolled out. They’re not perfect yet – but with the hard work, dedication and feedback of our over 400 staff and our 20,000 plus members – they will be soon! Expect more to come….