Market Focus: Fitness Enthusiasts
You don’t have to pump iron, run a marathon or attend daily aerobic classes at your local gym to be considered a fitness enthusiast. To the contrary, most of the individuals who fall into this category are aspirational fitness buffs—people who desire to be fit.
A Focus on Body Image
Fitness enthusiasts tend to be well-educated individuals with the discretionary income to spend on health and fitness products and services, such as gym memberships, fitness publications, exercise videos and equipment, according to Michael Fishman, senior client management director at ClientLogic Specialists Marketing Services, a Weehawken, N.J.-based list brokerage and management firm that manages several fitness lists. Demographics point to individuals who are in their 20s to mid-40s —the age range most closely tied to body image and appearance.
Because most fitness enthusiasts are striving to attain a certain image, they are ideal prospects for health or lifestyle magazines, healthy cooking supplies, nutrition-centric products and publications, weight-loss products, and other appearance-related items such as cosmetics and hair-care supplies.
For example, the average subscriber to Shape magazine is a female in her 30s who is college-educated and has a median income of $73,499. Mailers that have rented the Shape subscriber file include Avon By Mail, Eastern Mountain Sports, BMG Music Club, Venus Swimwear and lifestyle magazines such as Glamour and Self.
The direct mail universe for the core fitness market is roughly 2 million to 3 million names annually, according to Fishman.
“Lists of people who actually are ‘walking the walk’ and are hard-core fitness buffs are in the minority. These are people who, for example, might subscribe to Muscle & Fitness magazine or TriAthlete,” says Fishman.
“Marketers selling a health or weight-loss product generally have a broader audience and may be able to mail beyond fitness lists,” he adds.
When selling any fitness, health or weight-loss product, Fishman reminds marketers to sell the benefit. “People don’t want the products or service, they want fitness and to look good. They are buying the benefit or promise of looking good … these are the vehicles. The true product is the desired benefit,” he says.
Multiple Media for a Diverse Market
Fitness products that are more likely to be purchased via direct channels include fitness equipment, magazine subscriptions, books and videos. Most ingestible products purchased by people in their 20s and 30s, such as performance supplements and vitamins, according to Fishman, are bought at retail stores.
One direct marketer that has successfully tapped the fitness market for the past 17 years is Collage Video. In addition to its print catalog mailings, Collage Video, a direct marketer of exercise videos in Minneapolis, includes in its marketing mix: e-commerce and space ads for prospecting, as well as e-mail marketing to existing customers.
According to the company’s president, Jim Kraft, the space ads it runs in fitness magazines such as Shape and Fitness generate print catalog leads and promote one-stop shopping on its Web site, www.collagevideo.com, where visitors can select from more than 700 exercise videos rated and described by staffers and fitness instructors who actually have done the workouts. Although as much as 50 percent of Collage Video’s orders come through the Internet, the print catalog is the driver. When orders are matched back to the medium used to drive response, 80 percent of its orders are attributed to the print catalog.
Finding the right prospect lists to mail can be challenging, says Kraft, because his customers are not hard-core fitness buffs who pump iron or run marathons. Rather, they are average American women who want to lose 10 pounds. “It’s hard to separate out those who might be inclined to buy an exercise video. The challenge is to find segments within that large pool.”
Direct response television (DRTV) also is a good medium to reach fitness enthusiasts. Most TV viewers are familiar with the plethora of infomercials and DRTV spots of celebrities touting the benefits of various fitness equipment and exercise videos. Who can forget Suzanne Somers and the Thighmaster or, more recently, Daisy Fuentes extolling the wonders of Winsor Pilates? Unlike direct mail or space advertising, DRTV allows the demonstration of the product, which is particularly useful when selling fitness equipment. TV is good at selling “the promise”—how the buyer will look and feel after using the product.
More Than Exercise
Because fitness enthusiasts are such a broad market, fitness lists have been mailed by a variety of marketers, most notably financial services firms and fundraisers. According to Fishman, credit card marketers have mailed fitness lists because the demographics fit a segment of the marketplace that often carries a balance on their credit cards and in which income levels are on the rise. Nonprofits that have made fitness lists work, he adds, are those that have some relevance to this age group. According to Fishman, these lists are more likely to see usage from a breast cancer charity, than, for instance, Disabled American Veterans. Indeed, nonprofit organizations such as the March of Dimes and the American Breast Cancer Foundation have rented names from the Shape subscriber file.
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