Our ‘New World of Home Fitness’ report, in conjunction with The Shopper Agency, addresses some big questions – What and where is the new gym? How will it feel, what needs will it satisfy, and how can brands win in this changed environment? We surveyed over 1,000 people between 18 and 74 about their relationship with home fitness, the gym, and the technology they use (or wish to use). The result is a new insight into how brands will need to adapt because one thing is certain, traditional gyms are history.
Large numbers of people will not be returning to gyms, yet over two-thirds of people surveyed still want to replicate gym–like experiences at home (echoed by a recent U.S. study). With 87% saying they do not exercise happily at home because of barriers like not having enough space, or not having the right equipment, there is a clear need for brands to find innovative product solutions for the home that meet these pro-grade gear expectations.
Unsurprisingly, affordability is an important consideration for people but even in these uncertain times, our research shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium for pro-grade equipment when the value is clear and other factors are met. This is evident in high-end equipment brands like Mirror reporting a five-fold increase in exercise frequency, Tonal and Hydrow’s sales tripling, and Fightcamp sales at an all-time high.
Despite the images of luxurious, spacious homes in adverts for brands like Peloton and Zwift, the reality is that lack of available space is a big issue for most people. For 90% of respondents, ‘compactness’ is their number one requirement for home fitness gear! Equipment that can be quickly set up and then hidden away is a winner. Other factors include ease of cleaning, smooth running not noisy, something that looks good in the home without dominating – see the formula below.
While people are seeking a ‘fun’ home fitness experience, 71% want a brand that is ‘serious’ about what they do and 85.5% want to know that it is created by ‘experts’. If fitness brands are to effectively tap into this growing market and meet consumer needs head-on, they need to find the balance of serious-fun and match people’s new hierarchy of needs.
Technology will be a crucial part of the home fitness experience. Over 50% of respondents want equipment that comes with an app and 55% want something that offers coaching, so there is a strong desire to feel part of a social, digital community. The future of home fitness is likely to be driven by non-intrusive tech like machine vision, motion sensing, AI and voice UI. These are advances that give users freedom of movement but add a layer of intelligence via smart coaching, expert guidance and positive nudges. Wearable tech is also due for another growth spurt with over 80% of the Generation Z demographic either already monitoring various aspects of their health or wishing to. While the first wave focused on fitness data capture and notifications, the next wave will use data to provide customised health, fitness and nutrition based plans.
The pace of change in the fitness industry is accelerating with new business models disrupting long established norms. Apps, gamification, on-demand content and personalised offerings are all part and parcel of this new environment. Little did Fast Company know when back in January 2020 they said; “The gym is no longer simply a place just to exercise; it’s the new gathering place” how the world was about to change. They were, however, right that community and connected technology was going to play a key part in our future fitness lives. With vast numbers planning not to return to gyms, people are seeking pro-grade, digitally connected gear in their home.
If brands are going to make inroads into this expanding market, they need to understand people’s new hierarchy of needs, and the barriers to a good home fitness experience. ‘The New World of Home Fitness’ report provides a range of insights based on primary research – let us know if you are interested in delving deeper on how pro-gear brands can extend their reach.
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