While last year the health and fitness industry was seriously affected by the pandemic, with some research reports saying that up to 25% of gyms and studios were closed, things are looking up again.
The reason is simple.
People need to exercise. They need to keep fit.
Even during lockdowns, a lot of studios, gyms, or freelance instructors pivoted to offering online courses, which kept them afloat. People exercised at home.
And some of them plan to keep doing so, even if the gyms are re-opened.
For a variety of reasons. Most notably, because they feel safer this way and because they discovered that exercising at home or in a nearby park takes less time. Plus, if you can keep on doing so with a remote instructor, why bother going to the gym? Lastly, people all over the world invested massively in home gym equipment in 2020, so they plan to get more ROI out of their investment.
Does this spell long-term trouble for the health and fitness industry in the long run?
Not at all!
Sure, some changes brought about by the pandemic are permanent — a lot of people won’t go back to the old ways of staying fit. But the health and fitness industry comes with an embedded safety net: there are always new customers to cater to.
Most industries have a limited number of customers. They typically lose some of them to the usual culprits: competition, natural causes (death), and, more recently, pandemic-induced social and economic changes. To gain new ones, they have to wait for them to be born, grow up, or get richer or poorer.
But in the health and fitness industry, there is a virtually endless pool of new potential customers. People of all ages, all backgrounds, all physical conditions, and all socioeconomic classes can decide one day to get fit. And to get help in their fitness journey.
For every person who switches to another gym or decides that following a fitness routine is not for them, there are others who just need the right push to get started.
There is a catch, however (isn’t there always one?) — you have to make sure that they choose you when they decide to get started. No matter what health or fitness niche you are in, you definitely have some competition.
The way to beat that competition is to zero in on your ideal customer. I know, I just said that everyone who decides to get fit is fair game. And they are. But they are not all right for your business. And vice versa: your services or products aren’t ideal for everyone.
When you market your services to everyone, you speak to no one. So the key is to zero in on your ideal customer as soon as possible and to focus on them alone.
How do you do that?
Glad you asked!
Ask the Right Questions to Get to the Right Customer
The journey to finding the ideal customer for your health and fitness services ideally starts long before you have the “Open for business” sign hanging on your (virtual) door. If you ask the right questions, you will easily know whom to market to. Already in business and you didn’t ask the questions below?
Don’t fret! They will still help you improve ROI no matter when you get to them.
Start with these four Ws:
- Who do you want to serve?
- What need/want/problem can your product help solve?
- Where are your customers (where do they live and where do they hang out online)?
- What can you do better than your competitors aka what is the extra value you offer?
When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a rough idea about who your customer is and how you can solve their health and fitness problems better than anyone.
But a rough idea isn’t enough in a highly competitive industry, so let’s dig deeper, shall we?
Who Do You Want to Serve?
When you think about the health and fitness industry, you typically think about gym-goers. But there’s so much more than that to your ideal buyer persona, so many more customer types.
Yoga-goers, runners, kick-boxers, health enthusiasts who love supplements, vitamins, fitness trackers, and more, “home gymers”, occasional athletes versus people who exercise every day, and so on.
You need a clear segmentation to help you get started. Think about:
- Your customers’ location — are you catering to a single town/city/neighborhood, or can you meet customer demands from all over the country or the world? The latter is the case for health and fitness apps, products that can be shipped long-distance, or remote classes.
- Psychographic features, like behavior or preferences. Think about their employment status, everything from the busy executive who needs to be able to exercise anywhere to the stay-at-home mom, with an equally busy schedule, but different preferences.
- Social beliefs: do they love new technology or do they prefer an all-natural, holistic, perhaps even spiritual approach?
- Income level: do you offer low-budget, medium, or high-end products?
What Need Can Your Problem Help Solve?
This is the step where you zero in on their pain points. Everyone has them. Look for things like:
- No gym close to their home (an underserved area of town).
- No online classes that they like.
- A hectic schedule that prevents them from going to the gym — are 24/7 classes a good alternative for them AND you?
- No partners to exercise with — add an accountability feature to your programs.
- Services in their area are too expensive.
- Most programs are too inflexible.
See where I’m going with this? There’s always a gap to fill in the health and fitness world.
No idea where to start collecting this information? As soon as you’ve answered the previous one, look for Facebook groups or subreddits that your (rather large for now) target groups might frequent and post a poll/survey.
Where Are Your Customers?
If you plan to open a physical store, studio, or gym, then you need to know how many “neighbors” you can count on. Your customers’ physical location matters even if what you’re selling is 100% online — you need to know how to target them with paid ads, for instance.
However, what’s more important than their physical location is their online whereabouts. Think about the following:
- Do they prefer Facebook or Instagram? Reddit or Twitter? Snapchat or WhatsApp?
- What media do they read? Ideally, you should find an intersection between your industry and the media they consume. Perhaps you will never pay for an ad in The New York Times, even if that’s what most of your customers read. But you can forge a partnership with a blogger who’s popular in your area. Speaking of which:
- What influencers do they like?
- What other similar services are they using? Do they use Strava to monitor their activity or do they prefer FitBit? Do they count calories with MyFitnessPal or another app?
Why do you need all this info?
Because it will give you an idea about where to promote your health and fitness business and, more importantly, how to do it. There are BIG differences between Facebook and Reddit and between MyFitnessPal and FitBit, even though, at first glance, their purposes are similar.
Knowing where your audience spends time online will tell you which tone of voice they respond to and even what type of UX they prefer.
What Can You Do Better than Your Competitors?
A normal tendency here is to dismiss the competition and to say that you are better than them all around. We get it. Nobody likes their competitors.
But this doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.
Take a deep, honest look at your competitors’ services/products and communication strategy. Identify their strong suits and their weak points. A SWOT analysis on their business might help you find gaps you can fill or take advantage of.
Couple them with the answers to the questions above and you’ll know exactly which customer segment is underserved or unhappy with the services/products they are getting right now. This is your chance to step in and scoop them up!
Think Outside the Box: 5 Types of Customers Who Are Underserved in the Health and Fitness Industry
Still thinking about the usual gym buff with 0% fat for your health and fitness business? It might be time to start looking elsewhere too.
Irrespective of the fat percentage in our bodies, we are all concerned about our health and fitness — some more than others. However, with the right value proposition, more people in unlikely categories might pay more attention to their most valuable asset: their health.
If you’re looking to open a health and fitness business or expand your current one, take a look at these categories:
Most seniors have different needs than younger people. They need slower-paced classes, equipment that fits their age (especially shoes), supplements that they can safely mix with their usual medicines, and so on.
If you run a gym, you can offer special classes for seniors at a discount — especially during the slow times of the day. Or you can create online programs for them, supplements, or equipment designed for arthritic legs and arms.
The LGBTQIA+ community is underserved by most industries and health and health and fitness make no exception. You don’t have to turn your business into one that exclusively caters to this community, but you can easily make a few tweaks to be more accommodating and thus attract more LGBTQIA+ people:
- Gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms.
- Gym equipment for people who are currently transitioning and can’t move with ease in gender-specific equipment.
- Supplements that are tailor-made for trans people.
- Pronouns use: train your staff to refrain from using gender-specific pronouns like he/she and use gender-neutral pronouns: we, you, us, they. Better yet, on the application form, you can easily ask for each member’s preferred pronoun.
3. Differently-Abled People
Make sure everyone is welcome in your gym or studio by making it accessible for everyone, including people who are wheelchair-bound or visually challenged. Reach out to local communities for help on how to make your gym more welcoming for everyone.
Additionally, you can hire dedicated instructors or train them on how to help differently-abled people get more out of their time at the gym.
Students are the ideal customers for health and fitness businesses. The younger generation is more aware of the importance of focusing on your health as early as possible.
The only problem?
They don’t have the money to pay for expensive health and fitness programs.
You can attract new customers by offering student discounts. Remember: these people will graduate at some point and they will earn more. Help them when they need it and they can become your customers for life.
The internet is full of bitter-sweet jokes about parents who barely have time to take a shower, so going to the gym is rarely an option. Unless, of course, someone thinks about their needs.
Add a class for moms and dads that comes with a very important perk: on-site childcare. “Me-time” is a very underserved need, especially for new parents who would pay a pretty penny for 45 minutes of exercise without interruptions.
Top Tools to Find the Ideal Customers for Your Health and Fitness Business
We’ve hinted at some of these tools above but let’s take a more in-depth look at how you can zero in on your ideal customer. These tools can help you eliminate guesswork and make data-backed decisions. You can use them for an established business that’s looking to expand or develop new products/services or for brand-new businesses:
1. Surveys and Polls
Tools like SurveyMonkey and polls that are available on most social media platforms are a great way to learn what people want from the very source. Ask the right questions and you will get all the answers you need to make an informed decision.
You can create polls and surveys to test customers’ opinions about a new product or service before launch or to learn more about them. If you could have the answers to the four questions in the first section of this article, then correlate them with who among the survey-takers are your best customers, you’d know exactly whom to target, how to do it, as well as when and how to do it.
2. Email Marketing
Got a new idea for a service or product but you’re not sure whether you have enough customers for it? Send an email campaign and test your hypothesis before you invest too much in it.
You can ask your existing customers if they’d be interested in your idea or simply check to see if they referred friends in other categories for your new services.
Want to be able to make quick connections between your most popular products and your best clients? Then you need integration.
An integration solution can correlate insights from your mission-critical software like ERP, CRM, financial planning, or email marketing so you can easily spot who your best customers are and what they have in common.
You’ll easily notice patterns and get insights into their buyer journey, so you can replicate your most successful campaigns with a few clicks.
On SyncApps, you can find integrations for some of the most popular solutions used in health and fitness, using Mindbody, to your marketing and financial software of choice. Find more integrations for your industry, as well as a completely free whitepaper with health and wellness marketing tips here.
Did you know that it’s 100% FREE to get started with SyncApps? It’s not a free trial, it’s just how we work — you can keep your free account for as long as you need it and only upgrade when your business grows. Start here!