If asked to picture a millennial, you might imagine a young person engaged in any number of stereotypical activities—let's say, a twentysomething bearded male who's dawdling on his smartphone while eating avocado toast.
The very term—millennial—can conjure negative connotations of technology-obsessed consumers who crave so-called experiences and will most definitely give you a scathing online review if you fail to give them exactly what they want.
Right? Or perhaps it's not so simple.
Marketing, at its best, targets real people, not stereotypes. And while the twentysomething avocado toast guy could be a real person—a millennial—he certainly doesn't define the demographic.
He cannot define or limit your fitness business's marketing strategy, either, according to SportsArt's Britt Harris, the presenter of Club Industry's latest free webinar.
In Harris' Nov. 21 webinar, "The Pitfall of Millennial Marketing: How to Avoid It by Focusing on Your Brand Values," she noted that a millennial can be a 38-year-old father who's trying to reclaim his college-era physique. A millennial can also be a 24-year-old woman who recently graduated college and is attempting to balance her new career with her evolving health goals.
Millennials represent 33 percent of all active health club memberships in the United States, and members of this group will spend an average of $112,000 on fitness during their lifetime.
Millennials can drive success or failure at your business for these reasons and more, Harris said. But club operators must be strategic in capturing their attention.
"Doing a very general targeted [ad] campaign to millennials, especially in your area, runs the risk of alienating potential members and not necessarily attracting the demographic you think you're going to attract," Harris said.
Harris discourages club operators from investing in generically targeted social media ads and instead suggests they re-evaluate their brand values and reconsider their target audience.
Millennials typically assess three aspects of a business, Harris said. First, they gauge its authenticity. Are its branding materials genuine and truthful?
Second, millennials compare first-hand experiences with pre-conceived expectations. In short, did the business properly prime them for the experience they had, whether those experiences be a positive or negative one?
Lastly, they consider the strength of their personal connection to the brand. Do the brand's values match their own?
Millennials are savvy in that they are unlikely to be fooled across these criteria. They'll do their research and get to the bottom of any potential problem.
Harris cited the recent consumer boycotts of the Equinox and SoulCycle brands as an example of what can happen when experiences fail to meet expectations. Many of the brands’ young, liberal-leaning members were disappointed to learn of the brands’ owner's support of President Trump. This resulted in a 7.5 percent decline in SoulCycle’s class attendance in addition to a broader reputation problem whose ramifications are not publicly known.
For more insights from Harris, click here to view the full on-demand webinar.
Additionally, click here to register for Club Industry's Dec. 12 webinar on how to add online training to your existing fitness business. The webinar will be presented by Greg McCoy of [Hidden] Gym.