The competition is heating up. 2020 saw thousands of new entrants to the online health & fitness market vying for positioning and customer acquisition. 71% of consumers who were active online in 2020 have stated their intention to continue using these services. It's clear that working out away from the gym has become an integral part of the market. This growth is further highlighted as January through November of 2020, approximately 2.5 billion health and fitness apps were downloaded worldwide.

However, with many of these consumers having an unconvincing experience, there’s plenty of room for brands to make a statement in the market by answering the problems consumers are having with online health & fitness delivery.

Those who are moving beyond live and on-demand workouts are primed for success, creating a health hub for each member to feel in control of their health journey. Peloton may have a market cap of $32billion, but there are plenty of fast-growing brands that provide a much more impactful offering to their membership base.

To look around the corner of the 2020/21 digital fitness boom we analysed over 1000 online health & fitness platforms. We noticed the strongest brands are adapting to the changing consumer desires in unique ways. The opportunity has never been greater to trigger substantial growth in your online fitness offerings with member success at the heart of your strategy.

Many brands have created a solid foundation but have struggled to stimulate meaningful growth. Others have found it hard to edge their way into the market and grab consumer attention. Ultimately the digital consumer is more fickle, as generous free trials and low-cost options are encouraging plenty of movement. Businesses need to elevate retention to the same level of importance as sales by enhancing the connection with their members. This is where the opportunity for growth lies as its connection to referrals and CLV support more linear progress.

This article will show you the 6 areas to focus on that will propel you to a 1% brand.


From Services To Experiences

Where content is consumed, experiences are lived. The content-as-a-service model isn’t making the impact that is needed to transform an individuals health. At best most services help members bounce between classes trying to maintain consistency. The reality is that most services lack the application of passion, discomfort, commitment and purpose that define a persons commitment to their health.

More careful planning to deliver experiences yields significant results as members feel a greater connection to their health development.

The first iteration of this change is starting to come through. We’re seeing ‘Developing Dynamic Upper Body Strength Programme’ instead of ‘Arm Tone Up Class’. Or ‘Meditation for Bravery and Courage’ instead of ‘Meditation Practice 32’.

Often too focused on creating a world-leading strength programme or series of HIIT classes, digital platforms are missing the opportunity of delivering lifestyle experiences that consumers actually relate to.

Here are a few examples

- ‘The Importance Of Moving 5x A Day’ — encouraging movement beyond the planned training session to avoid excessive sitting, and promoting stronger mental health

- ‘Multi-Discipline Week’ — Challenge your members to try a series of 4+ classes to work on different components of their fitness

- ‘Managing Social Media Expectations’ — discussing the realities of social media and shedding light on the influencers and body image fixation that is designed to influence their health behaviours

- ‘Building Confidence’ — support of social health by encouraging ideas to help build confidence which in many cases has been shaken by the pandemic period


Holistic Health

Fitness classes and workouts are not the only experiences that consumers are eager to utilise. The digital space has opened out the opportunity for brands to explore the dynamic nature of each individuals health. Drawing in relevant specialists helps add exciting new experiences that resonate most with your community. Adding new layers to their health journey.

Look to the complete health model to manage the challenges that come with building a holistic health strategy within your business.

  1. Physical Health — mobility, sleep, running, skills and callisthenics. There are loads you can do that aren’t just another HIIT class. Even the fundamentals go a long way in supporting your members adaptability
  2. Nutritional Health — more than just meal plan, calorie counters and recipes. You have the opportunity to help members understand how to blend diet and lifestyle
  3. Mental Health — a crucial component to members health journey. Help improve mindset and mental health struggles and your community will maintain control of their journey even when it gets tough
  4. Social Health — responding to the importance of communication and relationships. Helping members manage a complex social world that is difficult to navigate especially online.
  5. Health Intelligence — providing a framework to learn and understand more about what is important about their unique health journey
  6. Health Longevity — the booty building and toning ambitions are wearing thin. Providing experiences that look at a persons long term health perspective will transform their view of health and form a deeper connection to your platform


Member Success Optimisation — Advanced Personalisation

Member success should be central to any health & fitness business strategy. Knowing how your customers are responding to your experiences is essential to formulate effective growth. This will come in the form of qualitative and quantitative data, all of which is incredibly valuable in acting fast to ensure that each member feels a deeper connection to their health journey.

The health & fitness industry is innovating at its fastest rate ever. This will only further compound as all adjacent wellness industries seek a slice of the more than a trillion-dollar pie. This has led to some important innovations in health tracking that goes beyond steps and heart rate.

Fitbit, Apple and now Amazon are driving down cost and improving accessibility, while specialist companies are also offering competitive and unique wearables. You have a lot more health data from your members to utilise. The greater your understanding and access to this data the more you understand the dynamic nature of each individuals health. From here you can make suggestions and utilise AI systems to make highly accurate recommendations that will suit their health journey.

Look to gain access to this data and ensure your digital platform is equipped to host the data and provide the consumer with a clear picture of their health journey. Just having a visual representation is useful, but it also provides a significant opportunity for up-sell capabilities to work more closely with coaches who can execute more personalised support at scale.


Cultivate True Community

A group of members is not a community. 5% of your community communicating isn’t much of a community either. A real and impactful community feels like a tribe or family, where everything is meaningful.

While this doesn’t happen overnight, success in cultivating true community completely changes each members opinion of your service from a piece of their fitness expenditure to a central point of their life.

To cultivate effective community:

  1. Character & Ethos — your community has to represent something that it doesn’t necessarily represent to everyone. A community can’t be something wildly different to everyone and the more generic your community is the less of an impact it will end up having. Bring together people of similar character and they will all thrive.
  2. Hierarchy- sounds rigid, but if you don’t take action in its formation it can occur naturally in unwanted and negative ways. New members will understand their position as a newbie. Senior members will seek to take responsibility. Coaches will act with authority and generate enhanced trust. Value will be brought from more members as the feeling of safety and social cohesion will be established.
  3. Be A Mullet — business in the front, party behind. Make sure the community serves its business purpose but ensure enough content and communication provides balance and enhances the dynamic away from just a ‘brand community’.
  4. Openness — being transparent as a business frames the attitude of everyone in your community. If you are open and honest then your members will be too. This encourages each member to explore their health deeper within the community and give more of themselves to help others. Set the standard.
  5. Digital Isn’t The Same — remember that community online is very different to real-life community dynamics. Losing that physical energy of being around people needs to be replaced with authenticity, connection and comfort that are tied to shared characteristics.


Brand Identity — Representation of Values, Character and Ethos

The quality of your platform is only half the job.

Brands need to break the mould. Having the same brand style as the rest of the industry isn’t going to get you noticed or perceived any differently. It’s easy to think that you have your unique angle but the average consumer sees the same fitness brand that has failed them plenty of times before.

Your brand identity isn’t your signature class or cool instructors. They are brand assets. It’s the feeling and emotion you craft that makes your services attractive.

Question these components of your brand

  1. Story — do we have a story that is clear? Is that story aspirational and relatable? How are we telling that story in the way we are presented? Does it strike the consumer within the first 2 minutes of them coming across you for the first time?
  2. Inspiration — what components of your brand inspire action and commitment? Your mission has to be clear and relatable to each persons health journey
  3. Feeling — what feelings does your brand trigger that draws customers towards your community?
  4. Differentiation — what's your edge? where can you really identify a point of differentiation in an industry crowded with similar brands?
  5. Alignment — how does your brand flow through your experiences? Ensure the core values and character of your brand is felt as you create unique classes, programmes and challenges


Organic, Authentic Marketing

The consumer relationship with digital marketing is changing. Authenticity is now everything. People don’t want to buy from brands, they want to buy from people they trust. Luckily the development of trust and connection is sped up online and this needs to be utilised.

To build your audience and generate more customers that fit your brand and community focus on:

  1. Partnerships — find brands that align with your values & ethos and utilise their audience to represent yourself and your experiences.
  2. Guest Starring — to deliver complete health you need to find the right specialists. This provides the opportunity to tap into their audience as you structure partnerships that benefit your members and show your quality to a new audience.
  3. Influencers — the next era of content creators are authentic and resonate with a changing consumer market. It goes without saying that an organic partnership showing off your services with an influencers stamp of approval can generate significant member acquisition.
  4. Your Team — your brand doesn't sell. Your team selling your brand value does. People buy from people. The previous three points are a testament to the importance of this.
  5. Be Omnichannel — Your content can be adapted for multiple platforms wherever your target customers spend time. This also means you must quickly learn and dominate the latest platforms. In other words, get on Tik Tok effectively.


Summary

Each of these components requires an effective operational system so you can execute consistently and provide compounding value.

Whether you’re an independent, franchise, larger chain, dedicated fitness app or Peloton (yeh that’s right I know you’re reading) you will need to take action on each of these foundational components to succeed. The health & fitness consumer is growing and changing rapidly. Many of the strategies that are effective today will be outdated tomorrow. But what will remain consistent is delivering experiences, addressing a dynamic view of health, personalising each members journey, cultivating true community and making your brand unique and authentic, marketing it organically will create significant growth.

Above all the growth and profit you will generate from your efforts, you will be making a life-changing impact on each members health and crucially doing what 99% of businesses fail to do in this industry- supporting a persons health journey long term.


Enjoy this? Subscribe here to discover more

Share (tag) this with someone who would also benefit from it

Need more support integrating these ideas? — these guys are great


Let me know your thoughts on the next generation of online fitness delivery.