Fit tech saved many gym and health club businesses during lockdown, by keeping operators engaged with members and members engaged with exercise.
Now the challenge is figuring out how to shape digital going forward – whether to walk away and refocus on the bricks and mortar business or to continue to invest and fully integrate digital into the business model.
The opportunity is turning into a major land grab and it seems all suppliers that can engineer a digital bolt-on to their base business are doing so, from aggregators to management software companies and from equipment suppliers and consumer electronics giants to content providers.
One thing is certain – operators have a wealth of options – the bottom line is how much consumers are prepared to pay.
Recent research in the UK by mystery shopping specialist, Proinsight, found a direct correlation between the mystery shopper score of online workouts, the intensity of the class and the amount consumers would be prepared to pay for it.
Deploying mystery shoppers wearing Myzone belts, Proinsight assessed a wide range of online classes by measuring three key metrics; heart rate, calories used and intensity (measured in MEPs or Myzone Effort Points – a measure of output).
The classes that scored best had an average intensity of 198 MEPs per hour, while those that were least popular had an intensity of only 142 MEPs per hour, indicating that some consumers value classes more when they are inspired to work harder.
Average heart rate increases and calories burned also correlated with mystery shopper scores, with those in the top quartile being +16 bpm and +161 calories burned.
Importantly, Proinsight found people are prepared to pay more for highly valued classes. The average that mystery shoppers were willing to pay for the content was £15/month, while for classes in the top quartile, they were (on average) willing to pay £4.73 more than those in the bottom quartile.
As businesses develop hybrid offerings, consumer insight such as this is vital to guide investment decisions, with a huge need for it to be hyper-local and calibrated for age, wealth, class type and fitness levels.
Digital also gives deep insights into what consumers want, guiding overall direction.