The world of fitness and wellbeing is changing fast but perhaps not fast enough for Generation Z. (Gen Z will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation on earth). Our ‘New World of Home Fitness’ report, in conjunction with The Shopper Agency, surveyed over 1,000 people about their relationship with home fitness, the gym, and the technology they use (or wish to use). So, what motivates Generation Z and how are their needs and expectations for home fitness shifting?
Despite a growing reputation for unsocial habits like being glued to mobile devices, Generation Z had the highest motivation to exercise for social reasons than any other age category since lockdown. As well as that, our research shows a marked 87% of Gen Zs seek out brands that are part of a community, double that of baby boomers. This generation finds it easier to connect with people with shared interests or principles anywhere in the world – being part of a digital community is natural. More than any other demographic surveyed, Gen Zs miss meeting new people and comparing their fitness performance to others. So, fitness-focused platforms need to deliver gamified experiences, leaderboards, and interactive forums. This digital-native trait also means they are ‘always-on’ purchasers – more open to minor transactions at any time.
Fitness-focused platforms need to deliver gamified experiences, leaderboards, and interactive forums
It is evident that a clear generational shift has taken place when it comes to using technology to look after our health. Significantly more than any other group, Generation Z has either started or wants to start tracking their health (from heart rate, active minutes, calories burnt, steps, weight, distance, and strength). They also miss expert guidance during their fitness experiences more than other demographic and are the highest users of fitness apps during the pandemic. Not only do they miss guidance but, out of all groups surveyed, Gen Z finds it most important to buy from brands that are acknowledged experts in their field (89%).
Gen Z seeks brands that clearly stand for something. 91% place high importance on a brand’s sustainability and 80% on its charitable approach. However, it would be a mistake to think that it’s all about serious, rational factors – 90% rate ‘fun’ as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when buying fitness equipment and 85% want brands that are fun. When buying into fitness brands or purchasing new equipment, for Gen Z the transaction is clearly about more than the exercise at the end of it.
Generation Z have a generally strong understanding of the relationship between exercise and mental health
Exercise has been an important means of coping with Covid-19. Similar to their healthy attitude towards alcohol our research shows Generation Z to have a generally strong understanding of the relationship between exercise and mental health, with lockdown having had a significant impact on awareness of this issue. Across all age groups, from 18 to 74, 77% are motivated to exercise to improve their mental health (men 82.6%) with almost 40% of Gen Z being more motivated by this since lockdown. Allied to this, people are more motivated to sleep better and to feel better than to look better. 1 in 2 say exercise is an important part of their mental health management. The pandemic appears to be responsible for a clear shift in focus from exercising for aesthetic purposes to exercising for both mental and physical benefits. Technology in the home has traditionally focused on mental stimulation, such as entertainment that keeps us static. The new model of tech in the home will need to stimulate our mental health while promoting movement.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased mental health issues. While a third of people are sitting more, all age groups are also exercising more to stay healthy and combat this concern. Making sedentary postures healthier and encouraging healthier habits or movement will be important areas for brands to address. There have been some interesting developments in the workplace with employee wellbeing promoted in new ways – some companies actively monitoring staff wellbeing to help them cope with the new work/home balance.
Gen Z seeks brands that clearly stand for something – sustainability, charitable, serious, fun
What do you stand for? To target Gen Z, brands need to be crystal clear on their principles. Companies need to also shift their thinking from being purely product-focused to consider community and content – meaningful add-ons that can enhance the brand experience through a sense of connectedness, fun, and rivalry. The ‘New World of Home Fitness’ report reveals a pronounced shift in consciousness towards inner health, particularly overall wellbeing. Lockdown appears to have accelerated people’s awareness of the link between exercise and mental health. This fact, coupled with Generation Zs powerful need to be part of an online fitness community and to feel more social, opens new possibilities for brand innovation.
Design Partners and The Shopper Agency will be presenting further insights from the report in October at Europe’s leading digital conference on fitness technology and the future of wellbeing & healthy lifestyle – FitTech Summit.
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