As trends continue to shape the landscape, competitors will want to pay close attention to how they alter the value chain. Leaders would be well served to keep six key trends in mind as they evolve their digital strategies and business plans for 2016.
1. Device Reorientation
Smartphone penetration among U.S. and European Union populations is over 70%, even more in Asia. Mobile phones and tablets exceed 50% of all personal computing time, having nearly doubled since 2008. Fitness brands need to create digital brand experiences that function on these devices by providing great user experience and interfaces. Its not enough to just “have an app” or mobilized site, that app or site better be functional...and beautiful too!
2. Communication Shift Driving Self-Service
E-mail and telephonic voice have fallen from over 80% to about 60% of consumer “communications portfolios.” Time spent on social networks has doubled, taking over 1/4 of all user communications time. Only 20% of time use on cell phones is for talking...down from more than 60% five years ago. Text interfaces and app interfaces delivering self-service, even for luxury brands, are the preferred method of brand interaction. When booking an appointment, self-scheduling has become expected. Payment being simplified and digital via mobile devices for micro-transactions will become the norm as well. Brands need to change their service models accordingly.
3. Shift From "Bundled" To "Fragmented"
Fitness content and experience is accessible to anyone...and often free. Some of the value in traditional fitness programming has eroded. The number of apps installed (typically for a specific, single purpose) has doubled to over 30 per phone from 2008 to 2013. But spending on apps is highly fragmented. Brands that integrate digital strategies with bricks-and-mortar strategies will be rewarded. The success of Soul Cycle is reflected in this deft integration, as is the success of Class Pass. The ability to pay for what we use in the manner that we want it is here to stay.
4. "Social" Evolves
Social networking represents nearly 1/3 of Internet time, reaching over 75% of all Internet users. But for the first time, we have seen small declines in both total audience and levels of engagement in developed economies. The climb to maturity of major players like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter has happened in less than 10 years! Businesses of all shapes and sizes are actively trying to use social media as part of their marketing and service model efforts. Achieving real and measurable returns on these efforts will be a continuing challenge for players across the fitness industry but it is central to successfully servicing, obtaining and retaining customers. Brands will need to shift investment from old school marketing to new digital solutions.
5. User-Driven Personalization
Services must intelligently target each unique user. As an example, Netflix now makes up an increasing share of video consumption. The increase in all varieties of time-, place-, and device-shifting options will continue to pressure traditional business models. Having platforms that enable consumers to enjoy fitness experiences on their terms, and designed for their needs, is going to be a big part of the future of delivery.
6. Bricks-And-Mortar Shift From Channel To Experience
Despite its growth and transformation of the retail landscape, e-commerce still only accounts for 7% of all retail sales. Fitness applications and wearables similarly account for a relatively small share of today's marketplace. As connected mobile devices proliferate, their potential to transform the fitness experience both in the gym and via applications is the next opportunity. Increasingly, a significant number of consumers will use smartphones and tablets to research purchases and complete transactions. The combination of mobile fitness and true multi-channel integration will have a transformative effect on the fitness experience... bringing in the era of Fitness 3.0.