Market Focus Yoga Enthusiasts
Stretch Into a Healthy Market
By Irene Cherkassky
Americans are concerned with their health more than ever before. Not only are we struggling with the battle with bulge, but we're also trying to improve the overall quality of our daily lives. It's not surprising then that the practice of yoga, as a form of exercise and as a way to achieve well-being, steadily has gained popularity, particularly within the past decade.
The number of yoga practitioners is growing by leaps and bounds. According to Yoga in America, a February 2005 study conducted by Yoga Journal, a consumer magazine serving yoga practitioners of all levels, there are now 16.5 million U.S. adults practicing yoga. That's a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year, and a 43 percent increase from 2002.
The fastest-growing segment of yoga enthusiasts is the 18 to 24 age group, which expanded by an impressive 46 percent in 2004. However, the largest segment of practitioners of this discipline falls into the 35- to 54-year-old range, at 41.6 percent. "Yoga really has entered mainstream society," says Tisha Tyler, account manager for Millard Group, the list management and brokerage firm that handles the Yoga Journal file. "There may still be a remnant of the perception that anyone who practices yoga is also vegetarian and in support of environmental causes," she says. "While that may very well be true in some cases, yoga enthusiasts really cannot be classified with sweeping generalizations." If anything, Tyler notes, the majority of yoga enthusiasts can be described as people interested in achieving optimum health holistically.
Yoga enthusiasts range from experienced teachers/instructors to people who have been studying for some time—typically practicing poses several times a day—to novices. A wide range of people study yoga for varied amounts of time for a variety of reasons, whether to improve overall health and/or body strength or to emulate their favorite movie star who swears by it. John Abbott, president and CEO of Yoga Journal, says in the February report, "That the number of yoga practitioners has grown so strongly in the last 10 years shows that yoga is not a passing fad, but a genuine cultural phenomenon and an integral part of the wellness trend in this country."
Although the core base of this group falls into the organic, spiritual profile, more often than not, today's yoga enthusiasts tend to be well-educated professionals. "They're generally college educated, single or one- or two-child households," describes Tom Walsh, client management officer for list management and brokerage firm ClientLogic Specialists Marketing Services. ClientLogic estimates the average income for this group at more than $65,000. "They're certainly equipped to buy what they're interested in," says Walsh. And according to the Yoga Journal study, these folks spend nearly $3 billion annually on yoga and yoga-related items.
Certainly, yoga-related paraphernalia such as mats, instructional DVDs and yoga classes are items sought out by enthusiasts. However, these consumers are open to a number of other products and services reflecting their diverse interests. Walsh cites health, fitness and exercise-related offers as appealing. "Other offers that work very well are travel, clothing—especially practical clothing—and alternative lifestyle items," he says. Tyler adds, "They tend to also respond well to items for the home (to help them create a peaceful and centered environment), apparel and accessories offers (particularly natural fiber offers), and literary offers (books and publications)."
This customer base is responsive to offers via most channels: direct mail, print or e-mail. The media you choose will depend on the type of offer, says Tyler. For example, you may choose to use e-mail to promote instructional DVDs, or direct mail to send invitations to subscribe to publications, attend a yoga retreat, or purchase larger or high-ticket items. According to Tyler, "This is also a good media to use when you have a lot of information to share. … Print ads work as great branding pieces, and they reach a wide audience."
Another way to reach yoga enthusiasts is directly through yoga studios. Dayna Macy, communications director for Yoga Journal, says, "We have a highly successful studio sampling program that reaches studios with our magazine and products from our advertisers."
However you choose to promote your offer, the basics of good marketing apply: "Keep in mind your target audience—even within the various segment of yoga practitioners—and create a piece that is aesthetically pleasing (e.g., great photos of poses) as well as informative and well written," says Tyler. Walsh suggests using recycled paper whenever possible when sending offers via direct mail. "That's very important. They're very environmentally conscious," he says of these consumers. And although yoga is not seasonal, Walsh finds that this market is better reached in the spring and fall. "Summer is not a good time, because these people tend to be more affluent, better educated and they travel more," he says.
Lists to Test
Gaiam Harmony: 116,194 catalog buyers of organic, natural and environmentally safe products for personal use and the home. Price: $110/M. Call: ALC of New York LLC, (212) 924-1300.
Rodale Whole Life Health and Well Being Masterfile: 6.69 million Rodale book buyers, subscribers and survey respondents with health and well-being interests. Price: $100/M. Call: American List Counsel, (800) 252-5478.
Yoga and Pilates Enthusiasts: 277,147 individuals who filled out a questionnaire about numerous areas and have expressed an interest in yoga and Pilates. Price: $85/M. Call: Above All Marketing, (201) 988-4516.
Yoga Enthusiasts: 271,319 health conscious yoga enthusiasts. Price: $95/M. Call: ClientLogic Specialists Marketing Services, (201) 797-7566.
Yoga Journal: 205,818 active subscribers to a magazine for individuals looking for items and services to help them reach their health and lifestyle goals. Price: $110/M. Call: Millard Group, (603) 924-9262.
Yoga Products Buyers of Books, Information, Meditation & Exercise Supplies: 53,589 individuals and practitioners who exercise with yoga instructions. Price: $95/M. Call: REMY Direct, (800) 267-1960.
Yoga Zone: 12,296 12-month health- and fitness-minded catalog buyers of yoga-related apparel and accessories. Price: $100/M. Call: Catalyst Direct Marketing, (201) 405-1414.