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At-Home Fitness Brands Focus On Opportunities To Grow Subscriber Bases In 2021

April 9, 2021 Kathy Bryan

Last year, at-home fitness brands saw significant upticks in sales and enrollments. Although consumers were home, they still wanted to work out and stay fit, particularly as health became a priority for many people in light of the pandemic. During this period of change and growth, many brands, like Peloton, took the opportunity to introduce innovative products and services, offer enticing promotions and expand their businesses in ways that have encouraged consumers to keep working out at home, even as gym life resumed. In addition, apps and partnerships have had a positive impact on sustained growth for at-home fitness brands. The “new year new you” mentality entering 2021 is driving consumers to set new goals, recommit to their fitness regimes and look for additional outlets for wellness. As a result, at-home fitness brands are recognizing opportunities to leverage digital solutions for new and sustained growth.

App Downloads Help Fitness Brands Scale Subscriptions

Shutterstock_1891781524 Young woman using fitness app on smartphone indoors, closeup

With fitness, nutrition and wellness sales gaining momentum over the last several years, mobile apps have become a core digital product for fitness brands. At the end of March 2020, health and fitness app installs were 58% higher than the 2020 average, after lockdowns caused a surge in demand. 

Apps can build value for fitness brands while offering an array of services, including virtual classes, calorie trackers, motivational coaches and personalizations that drive long-term engagement with customers and positively impact brand loyalty. By leveraging the popularity of apps to create meaningfully customized experiences for their customers, many fitness brands have been able to significantly scale memberships across their businesses, like Nike has done with its series of apps and ecommerce hubs. Apps also provide robust first-party data to fitness brands, chocked full with contact information and usage data, allowing for highly segmented and targeted messaging that resonates with customers. Particularly when usage lags, app data can indicate trends and highlight the type of re-engagement that should be successful for encouraging continued use. Long-term, the data collected from app subscriptions prepares fitness brands to create meaningful connections with customers that last beyond initial enrollment.

Partnerships Can Offer Opportunities For New Fitness Brand Memberships

In recent years, consumers have asked more from brands. The expectation from many consumers is that brands will be socially responsible and align their company values with those of the communities they serve. As health has become headline news and a priority for consumers, several brands forged partnerships with fitness brands to create opportunities for membership growth and goodwill. For example, Apple and CVS Health partnered to offer free subscriptions to Apple Fitness+, the new fitness experience built for Apple Watch, for CVS Caremark members and CVS Pharmacy ExtraCare members. The Apple Fitness+ benefit will also be offered to CVS employees and some Aetna Commercial Plan subscribers. By illustrating concern and care for their community and their employees, CVS is creating loyalty with consumers who value health and fitness, and Apple can scale engagement related to their new at-home fitness product.

Hybrid Solutions May Be The Answer For Sustained Fitness Brand Growth

Shutterstock_1864409731 Young woman with kids doing fitness exercices at home, online class

As with retail, which straddles brick-and-mortar and ecommerce solutions to meet consumer needs, fitness companies may take a similar approach moving forward in order to sustain interest from consumers. Worldwide, the home gym equipment market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.5% by 2025 to revenues of $31 billion, which means at-home fitness solutions aren’t going anywhere. However, as people begin to feel more comfortable being out and about again, fitness brands offering hybrid solutions that combine use of brick-and-mortar facilities with access to streamed classes and virtual training sessions, are likely to drive enrollments and scale use from consumers who have grown to appreciate seamless omni-channel solutions. In order to compete with gyms, online-only fitness brands will refine targeting, lead generation and digital advertising strategies to stay competitive.

As advertisers set goals and strategies for 2021, the unique experiences of last year should be reflected upon. Consumer behaviors and expectations have changed. How consumers engage with brands, how they consume media and their personal values have evolved. Especially for fitness brands, aligning advertising efforts, promotions and solutions with consumer needs and expectations is key to scaling subscription growth and lifetime value.

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About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers.

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