5 UK Consumer Trends You Should Be Aware of Before Reopening Your Studio Doors
By Heather Garrick
This article was originally published on Welltodo.
Consumer behaviour and attitudes to fitness have changed markedly in the past twelve months, as shown in the recent Wellness Index Survey by Mindbody. As gyms and studios around the world prepare to reopen their doors following lockdowns, many are making adjustments to their businesses in order to thrive in the new landscape.
Based on comprehensive research, Mindbody has compiled five key areas to consider when preparing to reopen your fitness business.
1. Proactively demonstrate your studio’s safety measures
The most common reason for consumers choosing not to work out at a gym or studio is worry about cleanliness or safety related to COVID-19. Twenty-eight percent of consumers who did not attend in-person sessions when restrictions were eased last autumn cited this as the reason they were staying away.
Alleviate these concerns by making your cleanliness and safety procedures highly visible to all clients, and ensure you have the right software in place for a low-touch client journey. Mindbody allows clients to book, pay, and check-in remotely to minimise queues in your reception area. And it also allows you to easily control class capacities to adapt to any changing national guidelines.
Posting a short social media video showing a walk-though of your Covid-compliant premises can also help give consumers the confidence to step foot back in your studio and is a great way to get your community excited about your doors reopening again.
2. Think about a schedule shake-up
Your old schedule may need a revamp to adapt to consumer behaviour. Shorter workouts have gained in popularity, with a third of Brits now say their workouts are a half hour or less, and 64% opting for sessions of 45 minutes or less. These ‘snackable’ workouts are giving Brits a chance to get a workout in when they might not have otherwise. Shorter sessions are proving effective and convenient when juggling competing priorities, so don’t expect to see them go anywhere any time soon.
3. Reconsider your marketing messaging
Eighty-two percent of Brits state that wellness is more important now than ever. While 38% of people said they are now more focused on wellness because they want to lose weight they gained during the pandemic, that number is dwarfed by the 61% who said that Covid-19 has made them realise that they need to be heathier to withstand illness. Consider whether your marketing messaging would benefit from a greater focus on the holistic health benefits that consumers are now seeking, and you could reach a whole new client base.
It is also a good time to review the visual imagery that you are using in your marketing materials. Almost half (47%) of consumers who said that they find gyms too intimidating said that they would feel less intimidated if they could see more people like themselves in the gym/studio and in their promotions.
4. Get the right retention tools in place
Some of your clients’ habits will have changed significantly over multiple lockdowns. Thanks to working from home and greater access to virtual classes, 21% of consumers say they have started working out at a different studio since the pandemic began.
That may mean that you may need to work harder to get your old clients back to your studio. Strengthen your personal connection with your client base through communication and content marketing. Welcome clients back to your space warmly. Send a ‘Welcome Back’ email to your entire client list—including any new, virtual clients you’ve acquired. Be sure to include important information such as your reopening date, any schedule changes or welcome-back promotions, and any other pertinent details like required pre-booking, or revamped check-in processes.
Additionally, you should opt for software with Retention Tools that allow you to monitor your studio’s client retention rate and set up automated campaigns to win clients back when you haven’t seen them for a specified period of time.
Getting customers back into regular exercise habits can also help strengthen the feeling of community within your business. Consumers who exercise five times a week or more are twice as likely to report feeling connected to their neighbourhood and community to those who rarely exercise, which is also excellent for their overall wellness.
5. Plan for hybrid being here to stay
Virtual wellness is not going away. During the time when UK gyms were open in autumn 2020, 47% of consumers still opted for hybrid fitness, with only 11% taking all their workouts at the gym.
It’s important to recognise that the pandemic is not the only reason that some consumers prefer virtual content. Common reasons given for not wanting to exercise in-studio include finding memberships too expensive (24%), feeling intimidated (16%), not having enough time (12%), and having a disability that makes it difficult to attend in person (5%). Virtual content can help you to reach all these potential clients with your wellness content, long after the pandemic is over.
The virtual wave presents an opportunity to retain clients by promoting video content in your email communications. With Mindbody’s Marketing Suite, it’s simple to include your videos directly into your email campaigns. You can increase client retention by giving members access to virtual services they love and help them stay on top of their fitness goals.
Plus, video content also boosts your email performance. On average, adding videos in your emails can increase open rate by 16% and click-through-rate by 65%. It’s all about getting the word out and being creative with it.
While the current landscape makes it challenging to stay connected with clients, these tips can help your studio stay top-of-mind and keep them engaged. From virtual classes to switching up the types of in-person classes you offer, don’t underestimate what a bit of extra effort and the right software can do to keep your clients motivated an engaged.