Winning in DR's Fittest Market15 Jan, 2010 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
But beyond the winning formula, some of the success is due to the way consumers are spending their money in tight times. “As people get more cash nervous, they cut out things that are, in their minds, luxuries. Canceling gym memberships and personal trainers is often one of them,” says Pearson. “And then they look for more efficient ways to exercise and stay in shape in the house.”
Jon Congdon, co-founder and president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Product Partners, agrees that fitness is still a priority for Americans. Therefore, his company aims to be real and honest with the consumer, who understands that to be healthy and be an ideal weight, they need to control how much they move their bodies and what they eat.
As Congdon points out, Product Partners focuses on home fitness as, “the easiest way to get someone to do it: no commute time and the only sacrifice is your workout time.” In addition to convenience, the amount of consumers without jobs has lent itself to success in the past year. Congdon points out that those without jobs feel deflated and without a sense of self worth. So they discover that by eating right and exercising, they can feel great.
“We’ve heard from people who lost jobs, then bought something and worked out and got in shape, and they are happier out of work in shape then in a job and out of shape,” says Congdon. And when it comes to price point, he says that the company did not break price point this past year on its most expensive product, P90X.
Gasper Guarrasi, founder of G2, a series of self-guided fitness programs, agrees that those who are working are putting in longer hours and working harder. Therefore, his company aims to fit those needs and markets them accordingly: affordability and efficiency.
At the end of 2009, G2 officially launched its line of illustrated stretch and exercise products: trainer balls and trainer mats. The idea behind Guarrasi’s products is to provide simple solutions (no heavy equipment). “Our marketing campaigns create demand for our products and direct sales, but the increased exposure and multi-channel distribution generates retail sales as well,” he says.
In the business of marketing sports and fitness products, the trend in early 2010 is a multi-functional piece of equipment that can do multiple exercises. Also, products at a low enough price point to make them more accessible than a gym membership are still doing well. Finally, perhaps the most important factor in a fitness product selling successfully is the marketer’s ability to show its ability for magical transformation.
“You are trying to tap into a need or desire of the consumer and for fitness. That desire is to be in shape, look great and feel great about your body,” says Guarrasi. “It’s very much about aspiration and even a little bit of sex appeal, but you have to balance that with being realistic, and showing how anyone can do it if they set their mind to it.”
TV — The Ultimate Platform
As Pearson says, television is still the driving force in selling sports and fitness. Gaiam uses the 30-minute format (and toyed with five-minute spots, which have not been as successful). “When we launch, we have to lead with the broadest delivery mechanism,” says Pearson. “If we had smaller items with lower threshold to enter the market, we’d probably lead more with the Web or short-form TV. Our philosophy is fewer and bigger.”
Television has been a very successful channel for Product Partners as well. As Congdon points out, demonstrating a fitness program requires showing the complete story of getting in shape. “No banner ad online can compete with that complete story, so we use the 30-minute format,” says Congdon.