Revitalising Gym Brands and the Fitness Industry: Adapting to Consumer Sentiment and Winning Trust in 2024

Paul Modaley

The global fitness industry is flourishing. In 2024, gym revenues are growing at a rate of approximately 8.7% per year, with a projected US market value of $96.6 billion by 2024 with one in five Americans being a member of a gym or health club. 

Closer to home, in the UK market, the top four companies rake in 58% of the revenue, creating a robust industry valued at £2.0bn in 2024. This market boasts over 6,700 health and fitness clubs catering to nearly 10 million members, which accounts for over 15% of the population.

Today, the fitness industry continues to forge ahead. Membership numbers have surged by 3.9%, propelling the industry’s market value to unprecedented heights, as indicated by certain reports.

However, the industry has not escaped the impact of rising energy costs and the cost-of-living crisis. A 0.9% decline in the total number of gyms may reflect economic difficulties. Additionally, reports suggest that 41% of gym members are ‘likely’ to reduce their gym subscriptions, presenting another challenge to UK gym revenues.

Against a backdrop of soaring membership figures, rising membership fees, a decrease in gym locations, and a perception that ‘health is the new wealth,’ gym brands compete for attention, with their destiny resting on their digital presence and public image. Similar to other sectors, the UK’s health club and gym industry is adopting a set of fundamental principles by prioritising member satisfaction and upholding an outstanding reputation.

This article delves into the Reputation Performance and consumer sentiment trends observed online, including platforms like Google reviews. Then, it looks at the crucial roles that member experience and reputation performance play as strategic focal points for gyms and health clubs.

Reputation Performance Trends in the UK Gym Industry

Analysing online review volumes, review response trends, and consumer sentiment is essential to maintaining and enhancing Reputation Performance, which serves as a gauge of your brand promise in comparison to consumer expectations.

Review Volume and Response Trends

Review volumes for the sector continue to grow rapidly. Between April 2023 and April 2024, review volumes grew by 63% compared to the previous year, with an 85% positivity rate. Despite a 61% response rate to these reviews, there remains a significant opportunity to engage with the unresponded feedback. 

This contrasts with the previous year, where with less volume we see a higher response rate of 76%. The shift in review volume and response dynamics underscores the importance of actively managing and responding to customer feedback to foster positive sentiment and address any concerns.

Member Sentiment: Analysis and Adaptation Strategies

The past two years’ data shows a significant evolution in consumer sentiment towards the fitness industry. The data reveals that strengths such as service, group fitness, and personal training have increasingly impacted star ratings positively, indicating a growing appreciation for these aspects. 

Conversely, areas like cancellation policies, perceived value, and facility quality have negatively impacted star ratings, though the negative impact has lessened over time.

Strengths and How to Capitalise on Them:

Service: The impact of service on star ratings increased from +0.06 to +0.23, underscoring the growing importance of exceptional member service. Gyms should invest in staff training and development to enhance service quality further. It’s crucial to survey employees to identify specific training needs effectively.

Group Fitness: The positive impact of group fitness on star ratings increased from +0.03 to +0.08. Leveraging technology for sentiment analysis to understand what members want from group fitness experiences can help to retain members and attract a broader member base.

Personal Training: The influence of personal training on star ratings rose from +0.02 to +0.04. Offering customised training plans and focusing on the personalisation of fitness goals can enhance member satisfaction. Survey gym members to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses in their experiences with personal training at your facilities.

Weaknesses and How to Address Them:

Cancellation Policies: The negative impact of cancellation policies on star ratings decreased from -0.14 to -0.08. Simplifying the cancellation process and making it more transparent can mitigate this issue. To understand how best to do this, surveying members is critical.

Value: The negative perception of value decreased from -0.12 to -0.06. Improving communication about the benefits and unique offerings of the gym can enhance perceived value. By leveraging social media, conducting surveys, and employing sentiment analysis, gyms can gain insights into areas where enhancements could be made to alter members’ perceptions of value.

Facilities: The impact of facilities on star ratings improved from -0.09 to -0.05. Regular maintenance and upgrades to gym facilities can address this concern. Deploy surveys to understand what members expect in terms of gym equipment and facilities.

+ 63 %

review volume growth between April 2022 and April 2024.

85 %

of reviews are positive during the period April 2023 to April 2024.

39 %

of feedback is unresponded, presenting an opportunity for gym brands to win consumer trust.

15 %

decrease in response rate in 2023-2024 vs 2022-2023.

The Significance of Member Experience and Reputation Performance

The digital age has transformed consumer expectations, elevating online reputation management as a critical factor for business triumph. In the health club and gym sector, where choices abound and competition is fierce, brands compete for member loyalty and foot traffic.

Crafted through exceptional member experiences, a robust online reputation frequently seals the deal for health-conscious consumers when making choices. The clear link between online reputation and business triumph is apparent, as favourable reviews and ratings sway booking decisions.

Our article, titled ‘Better Together: How Reviews + Listings Boost Lead Generation‘, highlights the crucial role of online reviews in setting your gym brand apart from the competition.

Improving customer experience, increasing positive reviews, and enhancing online visibility hinges on effectively grasping consumer sentiment. By comprehending members’ preferences and challenges, businesses can provide a superior customer experience, leading to a notable revenue upsurge.

Research indicates that businesses have the potential to enhance revenues by 4% to 8% above market standards by prioritising top-notch customer service. To meet members’ expectations effectively, it is crucial to offer facilities and services that align with their preferences. By maintaining clean, well-equipped, and lively fitness centres, coupled with excellent service, gym brands and other health establishments can nurture a loyal member base and draw in new members through positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Recommended resource: How Brands Are Winning with Customer Experience Over Price and Product

Strategies for Ensuring Continued Profitability in the Gym Industry

To boost profitability, gym brands should proactively improve services and grasp their customers’ needs.

Driving Leads through Reviews and Listings Management

To attract new members, gyms and fitness centres can boost their appeal by actively managing their online reviews and listings. In today’s digital era, consumers heavily rely on these reviews when deciding on a gym. Therefore, fitness centres need to establish a robust online presence with positive reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and specialised fitness review sites. By consistently monitoring and engaging with customer feedback, they can foster trust and credibility among potential members.

Recommended resource: Online Reputation Checklist: How Multi-Location Businesses Can Drive More Leads

Understand Consumer Sentiment through Surveys and Advanced Insights Tools

To effectively meet their members’ needs, gyms must truly understand their sentiments. Regular surveys provide valuable insights into members’ preferences and areas for improvement within the gym experience. Furthermore, these establishments must utilise advanced analytical tools that can analyse data from various sources. This approach allows for a deep understanding of consumer preferences, enabling tailored service offerings.

Recommended resource: Understanding Consumer Sentiment for Business Success: Your Ultimate Guide

Benchmark and Measure Performance

Within the fiercely competitive gym industry, it’s imperative for brands to consistently assess and enhance their performance, particularly for those offering top-tier services. Such brands must consistently measure their progress against rivals to lead the pack and foster member loyalty.

A highly potent technique for gauging performance across industries is the Reputation Score metric. This metric considers various facets of a brand’s reputation, encompassing customer feedback, social media references, and online appraisals. By leveraging this tool, gyms can unearth valuable perceptions from customers and assess their standing against comparable brands in the market.

Reputation Score offers a thorough assessment of a brand’s reputation and doubles as a valuable benchmarking tool for gym brands. By consistently evaluating and contrasting their Reputation Score against competitors, gyms can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. This empowers them to make informed choices, strategically enhancing their brand’s well-being.

Conclusively, performance benchmarking is vital for the success of gym brands. Leveraging tools such as Reputation Score offers a comprehensive view of a brand’s standing and acts as a potent benchmarking measure to foster ongoing enhancement and uphold a competitive advantage in the sector.

Recommended resource: Understanding Reputation Score: Your Guide to Better Business Performance

Customer Success Story: Orange Theory + Tombras

Orangetheory Fitness and Tombras, in partnership with Reputation, present a compelling customer success story that gyms can emulate for success in 2024. Despite the challenges of 2020, Orangetheory quickly adapted by disseminating precise, current information across their 1,200 U.S. studios, thereby maintaining customer trust and engagement. They utilised Reputation to efficiently provide updates and keep their community informed, particularly important as they launched their Orangetheory At Home programme. This initiative not only kept members active during gym closures but also attracted over 1.8 million participants, demonstrating the potential of virtual offerings. As gyms navigate the future, embracing adaptable digital solutions and maintaining high communication standards can nurture consumer trust, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction in a changing fitness landscape.

Customer Story: Orangetheory/Tombras: Leveraging Provider Sentiment to Drive Volume and Attract Talent

Looking Forward

Looking ahead, gym brands are at a crucial point where they can redefine the member experience in the digital era. Our analysis shows the vital need to adapt to consumer sentiments and use digital tools to enhance member experiences. With the industry set for growth and health-conscious consumers having evolving expectations, gyms have a prime opportunity to excel by focusing on service quality, personalisation, and member satisfaction.

To tackle challenges and seize upcoming opportunities, gym brands must actively manage their online presence, engage with customer feedback, and harness advanced analytics to understand and meet member needs. This approach can help enhance service offerings, facilities, and cancellation policies, ensuring alignment with member expectations.

We urge gym owners and managers to take proactive steps in boosting their digital presence and reputation. Engaging with reviews, gauging consumer sentiment through surveys, and measuring performance against industry benchmarks are not only survival tactics but also vital for thriving in this competitive environment.

Contact us to discover how Reputation can enable your gym brand to increase revenue in 2024 and beyond. 

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