In what seems like is becoming a regular occurrence, I’ve once gain found myself at the bar enjoying a few schooners with another marketing legend. This time Jay Baikie (Marketing Manager at Goodlife Health Clubs) and I are taking in the beautiful Balter brewery. As usual, I thought I’d take the chance to ask him a few questions about marketing, millennials, and (of course) the gym.
Now this is a regular question it seems, but active wear has become so pervasive in everyday culture we can’t help but ask. What do you think has lead to this health-focused generation?
I don’t think the rise of activewear has solely lead to a health-focused generation, but transparency of information has. The recent “athleisure” trend where brands are hijacking sportswear designs purely for fashion over performance has definitely permeated mainstream culture making the signposts of healthy-living a bit more noticeable.
We’ve also become more exposed to health issues, both physical and mental, and have the ability to research and monitor through digital platforms and wearables. Millennials know how to prevent poor health better than any generation before them, and the multitude of offerings available to do so – MyFitnessPal, FitBit, Strava – is incredible.
Barriers like male ego and gender roles are well and truly down in the pursuit of better health. You see rugby players doing yoga (#broga), models lifting heavy weights and tradies signing up to meditation courses. Millennial consumers understand the benefits that exercise has on our general disposition, physically and mentally. We exercise and we feel better, we feel a greater sense of accomplishment and we’re just better humans in general.
The major sporting brands have picked up on the fact that whilst we’re not all professional athletes, we still have an affinity for the brand, and of course, a desire for better health and self-improvement. We’re also just as stoked on wearing athletic brands as a fashion statement as we are about wearing fashion brands as an athletic statement. I think the cross-over is really cool. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for lycra… know your limits.
So they’re busy on WebMD and Bodybuilding.com but do you find that your millennial members (or members in general) are more educated about where fitness fits into a healthy lifestyle? Are they more on the right track when it comes to health / fitness than those in the past?
For sure. I think previous generations looked at exercise as a chore or even something you just did at school but gave up when life got in the way. Gen Y and millennial consumers look at fitness as an integral part of their life. They look at fitness as an opportunity to not only improve themselves – inside and out – but take time to disconnect. The trend of “connection through disconnection” is huge. Millennials are constantly on. They are dialed-in every waking moment – phones, laptops, iPads, wearables – and the opportunity to disconnect, if only for 30 minutes at the gym, is so desirable. We are saturated with distraction, so to be able to connect with ourselves and others by disconnecting from the world is unique for this generation.
You make a good point, but I’ll be honest – I still check my phone between sets. I’ve heard a lot of people bemoan the fact that Millennials lack true connection, or grit because they are ‘digital first’, focusing more on creative endeavours and hold down non-traditional jobs. Do you think this generation (and perhaps the next) is lacking something, or missing out on important experiences / life lessons because of this?
No way – I think it’s the opposite. They’re doing it right!
Whether coming together for security, protection or just pure enjoyment, our group instinct is integral and intuitive no matter what our age. Yeah, the millennial consumer connects and self-educates via digital platforms throughout the day, but then they decide to somewhat unplug, and actually embrace their peer-to-peer (P2P) time in the “experience economy”. You even have the millennial workforce building the most efficient ways of working through digital advancements, allowing them more time to do the things they love.
The importance of connection extends to business as well, you only need look at the huge rise in P2P funding, making investing in and running a company a shared experience in its own right. Never before has this been offered without the desire for self-gratification.
Millennials are just as excited to see peers succeed and seriously, what better life lesson is there than that?
I hear you – I’ve just taken up Acorns and it has actually made investing into something easy and attractive. Have you had to alter the marketing at Goodlife to cater to new mediums / channels?
Mate, the consumer is moving at the speed of light. Brands that don’t take on an agile methodology will be left behind. I feel that previous eras of marketing strategy have focused too heavily on a cookie cutter yearly plan that needs to be adhered to without question or flexibility. We understand the importance of structure but need to make sure our strategy and content can adapt to external trends and customer needs. This methodology mirrors the short attention span of the millennial audience. From a communications perspective, it’s about moving heavier onto digital and social platforms.
We’re working with ambassadors like Emily Skye, as well as ensuring a local approach for our social platforms whereby our Club Managers that have amiable relationships with their members are the ones posting content and personalised messages. It’s our way of ensuring high-tech keeps up with high-touch.
Speaking of personalisation and keeping up with the kids – what would you say is the biggest trend amongst millennials, right now?
Oh mate, there are so many and it’s so exciting! We live in the most innovative times in terms of audience and consumer understanding. There’s data everywhere, the insatiable need for experience over product, the wavering thirst for brand content but for me its one big thing – legitimacy.
The term “content is king” for millennials is so overused, it kills me. Content is not king, everyone can do content, but rubbish content with no legitimacy to your brand essence will just waste people’s monthly data allowance. The brands that kill it with content are the ones that deliver legitimacy to their single minded proposition. I love seeing a brand go against the grain and follow their purpose to make a deeper connection and cement their place in the consumers’ mindset. Even if you, as a consumer, don’t have the same purpose, you respect that brand for following their own north star and delivering on their offering.
Couldn’t agree more. On that note I’ve noticed that some Goodlife Health Clubs are now bringing the fitness 24-hours a day. What’s the uptake like? Are there many night owls or is it just a ‘nice to have’ offering.
Definitely mate. There was a demand there from our members and we were stoked to deliver. Many other 24/7 clubs are really minimalistic and sometimes lack a breadth of services and facilities, but consumers will always want variety and there is a need for holistic offerings such as ours, including group exercise and options beyond just weights and cardio. We have rolled out over 45 24/7 clubs in the past year with more to come and we’re finding that our members are keen to get their fitness fix at all hours of the night. Pre-workout kicks on pretty late, I guess.
And when they do roll up at 2am for a sweet pump what is the most used? Actually, first, what’s the least used section of the gym?
The least used section would be the weights section with our female members. It’s growing at rapid speed as more and more females understand the importance and benefits of using weights. There are a number of females training in the weights section and showing the lads how it’s done. We even have a 75-year-old powerlifter named Marion in one of our clubs. She walks in and deadlifts like a boss. It’s awesome!
Most used would be group fitness. We pride ourselves on having more group fitness classes than any other health club in Australia. HIIT, Cycle, Bootybarre and Yoga are killing it. Again, it’s because in a world where we’re always on our phone, the ability to stop, put our phone down and connect with people with similar interests is often lost in today’s society. We have never been more connected, yet disconnected. With Facebook having over one billion users logged on in the course of one day this August, our social media connection is without doubt a positive phenomenon, but we haven’t seen the flow-on yet. Real, face-to-face interactions with people will still have a place in boosting mood and even improving long-term health. Simply put, it’s good for people to spend time together.
We, as humans, will always have a thirst for connection and belonging. Coming to the gym and feeling like a member is exactly that. You’re a member, you’re in a club, you belong and group fitness is unreal for that. In the consumer mind, a sense of belonging will always… Well, belong.
So we might be putting the phone down but I see more of these fitness trackers popping up on wrists. Do you think wearable technology is a fad or here to stay?
I think it’s here to stay. Sure, participation will waver from time to time but people will see it as a motivator. I think the big ticket item is how brands ensure the experience doesn’t become robotic and monotonous. The brands that guarantee a personalised experience will ensure the user engagement continues. It’s the high-tech meets high-touch element again where the user needs to feel like their wearable isn’t just tracking their calorie burn or distance, but it’s helping them achieve a goal that’s personal to them.
It’s how it makes me as a consumer want to engage because it enables, supports and partners with me in my fitness journey. In the health and fitness industry, it’s the brands that ensure its people (PTs and Coaches) work with members to utilise wearables that will prevail. Humans should work with the robots mate.
If you’d like to blow the top off of a couple froths and talk marketing to millennials, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll even shout the beers. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org