WNiF Magazine - Summer 2017 Edition | Page 12



By Kristen Walsh

In 2016 , 57.3 million people belonged to health clubs in the U . S ., up from 55.3 million in 2015 . That yielded a penetration rate of 19.3 %, up from 18.8 %. Forty-four per cent of them were core members , utilizing their club at least 100 times during the year . And 22.1 % of them belonged to more than one facility . All are recordbreaking figures .

The 2017 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report candidly acknowledges that changes and challenges lie ahead , but these have more to do with intensified competition and how to continue growing , than with retrenchments or retreats . The sector now involves more clubs , more countries , more members , and more business models than ever … and is still expanding .
Two major research organizations — IBIS World and Research and Markets — have both charted the rising curve , with the latter estimating that the global industry will enjoy a compound annual growth rate ( CAGR ) of 6.14 % between 2017 and 2022 .
The trend is being driven not only by corporate ambitions and entrepreneurial aspirations , but also by shifting societal conditions that produce problematic physical and psychological effects .
There are more people … and people who need clubs ’ services more .
The fitness-services market grows ever larger , but , because there are more suppliers , with sharp knives , sitting at the table , the slices of pie grow thinner .
Later in this article , we share 10 key applications from the report ’ s chapter on “ How to Apply Consumer Research Findings .” There ’ s serious room for growth , they suggest , with respect to the youth , millennial , generation-X , senior , affordable , and inclusive segments of the market .
Based on more than 24,000 interviews conducted in 2016 and early 2017 , the 132-page 2017 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report provides a wealth of detailed information on , among other topics , U . S . membership trends ; member demographics , attendance patterns , and activity preferences ; membership fees ; and personal and small-group training users .
For the first time , the Consumer Report also contains a special section on core consumers .
“ This year ’ s report is loaded with insights on how clubs can profit from current consumer tendencies and preferences ,” observes Jay Ablondi , IHRSA ’ s executive vice president of global products
The intimate portrait it paints of the contemporary club consumer serves as a virtual blueprint , a well-informed game plan , for those contemplating and crafting the industry ’ s future .
How to apply consumer research findings : Applications for club operators , developers and suppliers .
1 . Consistent consumer growth bodes well for the health club industry , as Americans continue to place a high value on their health and fitness . However , with increasingly intense competition , club businesses must set themselves apart in order to succeed . Now , more than ever , it ’ s critical for club operators to differentiate themselves from the competition .
2 . Opportunities abound to target and serve the youth market . The under-18 group is underrepresented among health club members , relative to the overall U . S . population . Considering the unique goals and needs of the youth market , club operators are well positioned to pr ovide offerings to complement exercise goals and help develop healthy activity habits .
3 . Attract and retain Gen X consumers with programs that appeal to them and their children . The percentage of members between the ages of 35 and 54 has remained steady over the past five years , encompassing 33 % of the total share of membership . While research on generational groups is often focused on millennials and baby boomers , the Gen X market shouldn ’ t be overlooked . Reward their loyalty ; offer shorter group exercise classes or personal and smallgroup training sessions ; and provide inclusive family fitness and sports programs .
4 . Appeal to older age groups by catering to their unique health and wellness goals . The 55-plus group is tied with the under-18 segments as the fastest growing age bracket . However , like the under-18 population , this older segment is underrepresented relative to the overall U . S . population . It ’ s important to consider the unique characteristics of this age cohort . IHRSA ’ s Best Practices