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Getting Back to a New Normal

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Nancy TrentNancy Trent

COVID-19 came, and it hasn't yet left. As a society, we initially dealt with the shock, we learned to adapt and we continue to power through. Now, consumers and the brands they use need to dive into the recovery process. COVID-19 has made us more resourceful and resilient, and we expect the fitness industry to come back stronger.

Traditionally, in a recession, companies that have a lean operation, a relevant value proposition and a loyal client base will survive. It has also been said that brands that invest during a downturn capture three times more market share. Going dark in a recession, downturn or crisis can cause more suffering. The more marketing cuts, the longer it will take to recover.

It's not what you say; it's how you make people feel. Everyone wants to feel good about the future. You need to show your clients that they can be confident that you will make it. Your customers want to be on the healthy, winning team. People vote with their dollars, and they want to be aligned with the brands that are giving back.

Consumers coming out of this will have more self confidence and trust in their abilities and decisions. They will be less dependent on company sales pitches and more aware of what is really needed to live, be healthy and be happy. Thus, companies need to evaluate what they know, what they learned and how they changed, culturally.

  • People were forced to try new things (i.e. virtual classes) and also started to seek out the familiar (at-home workouts).
  • They quickly adapted to all things virtual and learned how to use Zoom despite early discomfort for many, which has left us craving real time, in-person interaction even more.
  • Some have learned to be quite happy at home; however, it hasn't stopped the itch to get back out.
  • Health consciousness and immune boosting is on the rise; so is junk food and eating for comfort instead of fuel.
  • People put more personal pressure on themselves while peer pressure continues to rise with more time to surf and post on social.

Through this, we have all realized new needs. Based on these contradictions and behavior patterns, we can expect customers to want more connection, more truth, more meaning, more bonds, yet also, more simplicity.

What they will want is support, quality, inspiration and versatility. They will have the following questions about every purchase: Do I need it? Will it work for me? Can I get it? What are my other options? As a fitness brand, you need to answer these questions before the consumer even asks.

During this pandemic, many businesses have discovered that they need to stay connected to their regular customers while they are forced apart. Your personal touch has never been more important. You have to find a way to do so, despite the required distancing as we work through the pandemic. You should also be quickly building loyalty with an irregular customer looking for a temporary fix. Ultimately, what many in the fitness business learned was that the core of the business must be expanded to whatever consumers need in the moment, which changes from week to week.

Recovery will look much the same. Each week will bring new findings and cause new habits to develop, and we must continue to adapt, persevere and market to existing and new audiences.

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JLR Associates