The fitness industry is a competitive market with many options for consumers looking to achieve fitness goals or embody healthy lifestyles. Fitness brands succeeding in capturing attention and driving sales realize consumers are looking for connected fitness experiences. Peloton, Lululemon and Life Time Inc., are three examples of brands that are successfully marketing their brands as lifestyles and are creating loyal customer followings.
Peloton Is More Than Just Exercise Equipment
Since its launch in 2012, Peloton, the exercise equipment and online fitness instruction company, has achieved exponential growth, on track to reach $700 million in revenue this year. The success of the brand is due more to the content Peloton produces and the lifestyle they promote than the bikes or the treadmills they sell. There are currently more than 14 million Peloton subscribers creating a strong online community of customers who are passionate about the brand.
The social engagement features within Peloton classes build brand loyalty. From their homes, Peloton riders are interacting with other riders and instructors throughout live and on-demand classes. “The classes themselves are socially engaging platforms, where instructors give shout outs and high-fives to riders. [People-to-people connection] creates an intimacy that usually doesn’t exist when you are interacting digitally,” says Robin Arzon, Peloton’s President of Fitness Programming.
Peloton has not created a new type of workout, but it did innovate a new way for people to engage with their peers. Peloton’s Facebook private member page of 214,000, moderated by the brand, has niche groups for riders to connect off the bike to discuss issues relating to being stay-at-home moms, book recommendations and work-related issues. These virtual social groups allow for a deeply personal connection with Peloton as more than an exercise product.
Although Peloton is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, the company has opened brick-and-mortar stores as part of its strategy to continue expanding its brand footprint. Peloton stores serve as a marketing vehicle for consumers to try its products and take classes.
Lululemon’s Is Fostering Community In-Stores And Online
Joining the fitness apparel market two decades ago, Lululemon found success in marketing a lifestyle rather than a product. The brand aims to make consumers feel they are part of a larger fitness community by engaging with customers both in the store and online. The company has built brand loyalty through local initiatives such as in-store events and its ambassador program. Lululemon’s ambassadors are chosen to represent the brand, and they can be local individuals who represent particular stores or national ambassador celebrities who encompass what the brand represents.
Lululemon’s new retail stores are dedicated to creating branded experiences. Its newest store in Chicago is a 20,000 square-foot space that offers exercise classes, a café and an area devoted to selling items from local businesses. The company is planning to overhaul 10% of its stores by 2023 with this focus of being more than a shopping destination. “The word ‘athleisure’ no longer defines who we are,” says Calvin McDonald, Lululemon’s CEO. Lululmeon has plans to expand the brand with a skin-care line and shoes in the coming year.
Lululemon relaunched its website in 2018 to include more content and storytelling, and they are aiming to double online sales in the next five years. 2018 online sales increased 48.6% year over year with commerce sales accounting for 26.1% of their revenue year.
Life Time Is No Longer Just Fitness Centers
Life Time Fitness opened its first gym in 1992, with a goal to be more than just a gym. In 2017,
Life Time dropped the word Fitness from its name to Life Time Inc. The brand has 1.7 million loyal members in the U.S., and many of them look to Life Time as a company that is invested in all aspects of their lives.
With so much competition in the fitness and gym industry, Life Time’s key to success is cultivating a loyal customer following. For Life Time, fostering a deeper sense of connection with its customers has meant diversifying their brand name to more than just gyms. The brand has been slowly moving toward building a health mecca.
Since its founding, Life Time has aimed to be a one-stop destination for its members to work out, eat and spend time with their families. The brand encompasses athletic centers, including cafes, pools and enrichment classes for children, and has expanded to include a magazine, health seminar series, Life Time Work co-working spaces and ownership of 200 national races.
In 2020, Life Time is opening Life Time Living, luxury residences that will include athletic centers, cafés, and in most locations, Life Time Work co-working spaces. Life Time is banking on its loyal customer base continuing to embrace the Life Time lifestyle and want to call it home.
The future of fitness brands banks on their ability to engage with consumers beyond the products and services they sell. Peloton, Lululemon and Life Time Inc. have all built communities of customers who are actively engaged, and loyally look to the brands as representatives of the lifestyles they want to embrace.
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