What Happens to Gyms when the New Year Comes Around?

The health and fitness industry in the US is worth over $30 billion and has grown between 3-4% year on year since 2008 (source: Forbes). More and more fitness centers are opening to cash in on this fitness boom. However, even though 20% of Americans held a gym membership in 2018, it does not necessarily mean they actually went. Fitness clubs and gyms often struggle to keep attendance high all year round and prevent seasonal drop offs.

 

In this article we will look at two key periods and how they impact gym attendance based on Teemo’s data insights, following up with some fitness marketing ideas on how to attract new users and retain existing users.

*Overall visitation trend from 11/1 to 01/16

The Turkey effect: gym attendance in November and December

As you might expect, gym attendance tends to stay at a low level between November and December compared to the rest of the year.  If we look at the data from 2018, gym visits dropped 56.8% on Thanksgiving (11/22) compared to previous Thursdays. However, equally it seems that gym users don’t want to waste any time burning off the extra calories from their holiday meals: the Monday with the highest gym visitor numbers in November was the Monday after Thanksgiving, with 13.6% more visits than in previous weeks. The pattern is the same for Christmas, where there is an increase of 12.4% more visits than the monthly average on December 26th.  During December, we notice how visitation gradually decreases during the third week: we start at a very high Monday (32.2% more visits than monthly average), but lose speed after that. We notice a slow yet continuous drop over the next day that is distinctive of this holiday season. On Tuesday December 18th, we noticed 3.7% less visits than the average of Tuesday 4th & 11th. On Wednesday and Thursday, that drops to 4.9%, then 5.6%, and back to 4.7% on Saturday 22nd.

These trends have a significant impact on revenue for Gyms. However, they can usually count on January to compensate for potential loss.

From making excuses to making time: what happens when the New Year comes around?

Although December is usually one of the worst months for gym attendance, January tends to be the best thanks to all these New Year resolutions and good intentions. Looking at the data from this year, there was a huge peak in traffic as early as January 2nd.  There was an increase of 23% in gym visits for this particular Tuesday compared to the first Tuesday in November 2018 despite it being the first day back to work for most people.

The average visitation level is 32.2% higher in January than in December. However when we compare November and December, the increase is only of 0.9%. The day with most visits is January 14th, which counts 68.4% more visits than Monday December 17th and 94.3% more than Monday December 19th (numbers compared for every 3rd Monday of each month).

 

In the US, we also detected 6% of current gym goers are new customers in fitness centers between January and December. However despite this boost, 4% of new gym goers don’t make it past the end of January and another 14% drop out in February (source: Credit Donkey).

The challenge then for fitness marketers is to help these new gym goers retain motivation and make gym going a real habit so that their membership lasts beyond the beginning of the year. So what marketing techniques can you use to target these gym goers?

 

Marketing techniques to increase year round gym attendance

As we’ve seen from the data, fitness marketing is very seasonal and marketers need to adapt their strategies in order to target potential gym goers at the right moment. The goal is to raise the profile of the gym as much as possible in December so that when people are considering which gym to attend in January, your brand will be top of mind.

When it comes to fitness marketing and promoting your gym, there are a lot of fun and engaging digital campaigns you could run to attract new users and to keep existing users: discounts, free training on the first day of the month, weight-loss challenges, invites for friends, events or even partnerships.

Location-based advertising

Another tool to consider as part of your marketing mix is location-based advertising using a platform such as Teemo. Location-based advertising is a way to target gym goers (potential and existing) based on their behavior with mobile advertising.

New lead generation

Using geolocation data, fitness marketers can create campaigns to target a qualified audience based on their leisure and shopping behaviors. For example, targeting those that frequent:

  • Sportswear stores
  • Health food / organic stores
  • Competitor gyms
  • Yoga / dance centers
  • Former fitness center clients

Keeping existing audience

Location-based advertising platforms like Teemo can give interesting and relevant insights on your existing gym client base allowing you to analyze their behavioral habits and target them appropriately. The more you understand your audience and what makes your gym special over the competition, the more successful your marketing campaigns will be.

Thanks to Teemo’s new partnership with LiveRamp, you even connect your own CRM to our data to understand your existing customers’ gym habits.

Promotion

The power of location-based advertising is that you can target the person with an appropriate message either whilst they are at the gym (or walking nearby) or whilst they are visiting other related locations.

So there you have it, a whole host of great ideas on how to boost your gym attendance in 2019! For more information about location-based advertising or to find out how it could work for your fitness brand, request a Teemo demo today.

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