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Digital marketing refers to the type of marketing that utilizes electronic devices such as computers, game consoles, smart phones, digital billboards, and tablets to interact with their consumers, suppliers, and other significant business partners. The fitness industry is gradually embracing the idea of digital marketing, as different companies are trying to reach their customers and improve their delivery of services. Fitness First is one of the largest privately owned health clubs around the globe. However, it faces competition from other companies in the fitness industry, which are embracing the idea of digital marketing.
The four major competitors of Fitness First are Virgin Active, LA Fitness, David Lloyd, and DW Fitness. Those are powerful companies which use a wide range of digital marketing tools to achieve excellence in serving existing customers and attracting new ones. Examples of such tools include social media platforms, mobile apps, listservs, interactive websites, and digitally advanced training support programs, to cite a few. By knowing the digital marketing techniques used by its competitors, Fitness First may be able to pinpoint, and eventually capitalize on the existing gaps in the current fitness market. Therefore, this paper aims to explore the current digital marketing campaigns and technologies employed by each of the four Fitness First competitors. It also outlines recommendations that can help the company in tackling the related challenges.
Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs in the UK, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Namibia, and Australia. Virgin Active acquired the assets of Health and Racquet Club in South Africa in October 2000 and soon established market domination in the local fitness industry. Richard Branson, the founder of the company, states that the company has remained successful because it offers its customers the most current equipment (2013). It has new gym machines that promote flexibility and ensure that customers enjoy each minute of training. For instance, its weights are designed in such a manner that they can accommodate all individuals with the passion for working out. Innovations are also on the rise at the company, as it is attempting to expand and reach out to customers through the provision of new quality services. The company is accommodative and caters for individuals of all ages with the provision of diverse services.
As for its digital marketing, Virgin Active has been enjoying solid presence on social networking sites with about 100,000 likes on Facebook and almost 14,000 followers on Twitter. Its popular #GetGoing campaign presents a great interactive platform for customers to share experiences, interact with company personnel, and share training ideas. Virgin Active also runs an informational YouTube channel, where the company posts video presentations of the information from its Facebook and Twitter pages. Company’s own webpage features interactive fitness tools, such as BMI calculator, calorie calculator, hip-waist ratio chart, height-weight chart, etc. In addition to the interactive fitness tools, the website offers multiple articles and tips regarding diet, exercise, and beauty.
LA Fitness operates 500 establishments in the United States and over 80 in the United Kingdom. It is recognised as a leading provider of health and fitness facilities in the United Kingdom, with over 200,000 members in the region. It puts a lot of emphasis on personal training classes and creating exceptional expeience for customers, e.g., kids clubs, whirlpool spas, and saunas, with some locations open 24/7 (LA Fitness, 2013).
LA Fitness’s presence in social networks can be measured by 210,000 likes on Facebook and over 46,000 followers on Twitter. In fact, Facebook has been used by the company to link users to its website and other social media networks, as well as to upload videos concerning its campaign with Alisha Dixon. LA Fitness has also made extensive use of other social media channels, including Pinterest and Google+, to cover wide audiences and methods of communication. The company also places an emphasis on displaying the internal environment of their gyms by allowing viewers to access images of available facilities.
The company’s website offers similar services to those of competing brands. Its customers can find the club in the preferred location, book a free trial, order membership packages, or contact customer support LA Fitness has also created a “Fitness HQ” section on its website, designed to “motivate and inspire” members and non-members. This page includes tips for weight loss, advice as to which classes to pursue depending on needs, and motivational tips. Finally, the website also includes a “myLA Programme Finder” designed to enable consumers to understand the type of program they need to serve their goals.
LA Fitness has also successfully leveraged their offline activities and integrated these into their online activities, e.g., Alisha Dixon. The company has used its credibility to create and publish online content regarding the ‘LA Fitness Customer Value Proposition’, available programs, studio classes, and promotions. In addition, LA Fitness has created a mobile application for existing members, which looks to replicate the website content, including services such as club search, class schedules, social media communications, and accessing membership profile.
David Lloyd is one of the leading sports, health, and leisure businesses in the UK. The company opened its first club in 1990 with the aim of providing families with high quality fitness and leisure facilities. Its operations have been unique among other companies in the industry as they have also entailed the emphasis on racquet sports. The company employs high quality gym and tennis trainers, encouraging diversity and accommodating a large number of customers, which boosts their loyalty (David Lloyd Leisure Ltd, 2013). First-class products, such as leaning machines and swimming pools, are also offered for advanced exercising at the company’s locations.
Speaking of the company’s presence on social media platforms, it enjoys moderate popularity on Facebook with over 40,000 likes and with 1,300 followers on Twitter . It runs a Facebook ‘Video Vault’ featuring motivational customer videos, training guides, club information, and other visual materials. The company has also been pursuing charity activities; recently, it has asked its Facebook followers to vote on its latest charity site for the year 2013. Just like LA Fitness, David Lloyd Company has made an interactive mobile app allowing users to access up-to-date class timetables, set meetings with personal trainers and coaches, or watch inspiring videos. The app also provides information about upcoming events at local company’s clubs, as well as updates customers on the latest news regarding gym developments and membership offers.
Since its inception, DW Fitness Company has been committed to providing value and quality to its customers. The Company takes pride in its moderate membership fees, state of the art equipment, and highly qualified personal trainers who specialise in various kinds of fitness. It also offers a good choice of group exercise classes, which include Zumba, Tai Chi, Pilates, body combats, and aqua aerobics, to cite a few (DW Fitness, 2013).
DW Fitness has also exploited Facebook (9,000 likes) and Twitter (7,000 followers) as its main social network channels in order to enhance communication with customers as well as to provide multimedia content, including club tours and images, which are not present on the company’s website. It has also used YouTube as a method of informing customers on the quality of facilities and services provided to customers through member testimonials. The Company’s website is clear and well designed; it offers services similar to those of other competitors’, including an e-commerce page affiliated to the DW Sports Fitness brand. It clearly communicates its membership offers to different segments, including “senior” and “student”, as well as “peak” and “off peak” memberships. Thus far, the company has adopted no mobile technology to enhance customer experience.
To sum up, all the four competitors of Fitness First use a variety of digital marketing technologies to interact with their existing and prospective customers. Virgin Active, LA Fitness, David Lloyd, and DW Fitness all have pages in social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, through which they inform customers about their promotions and timetables. Moreover, the websites of all the companies’ feature information regarding local gyms and facilities, and their class schedules. The websites also provide information regarding membership options based on individual customer profiles. All the companies offer free short-term trial passes to invite new customers to experience the company’s facilities and services. Training videos and other instructional materials are very common as well. Competitors LA Fitness and David Lloyd have created their own mobile applications for facilitating user access to companies’ materials.
Fitness First can come out as the strongest company and readily tackle the digital challenges posed by its competitors by adhering to the following recommendations. First, the company should put in place measures that promote continuous innovations in the marketing of its products and services. With adequate finances and work force, the company will ensure that the level of innovativeness is in line with the emerging technological standards. Innovation should occur in all areas, including the internet and the products and services provided. Sound measures of innovation would help the company overcome these technological challenges, as it will keep up with the emerging trends. Innovations would also be increased through hiring of qualified staff and engaging in continuous training. And second, Fitness First Company would be able to tackle the technological challenges posed by its competitors by expanding and improving its research and development department and equipping it with more resources. As a result, the company would be able to collect better information on its competitors and adopt correct measures that would improve its ability to address the emerging technological challenges from competitors.