“At this time of year, everyone’s trying to sell machines and gadgets, and people buy them by the millions.” Walter Thompson, lead author of an American College of Sports Medicine survey predicting what will be hot in gyms this year (Health.usnews.com, January 22, 2014)


Description

A crop of new activities across the U.S. and Europe are actually helping to change the prejudice that exercise is a chore, and consumers are starting to see that keeping fit can be entertaining, social and fun at the same time. People vary in their commitment to exercise and fitness goals but, overall, performance and energy have become symbols of cool and sexiness.The No. 1 New Year’s Resolution is to engage in fitness and exercise, cited by 43% of U.S. adults, followed by healthy eating (37%), according to Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project. Sport practitioners are in tune to the health-beauty connection of looking good and feeling good. Tomorrow, products that will provide both functionality in fitness and vanity for fashion will of great appeal. The latest SFIA report found that fitness sports had the largest increase of 2% from 2011 to 2012 with swimming, fitness and outdoor activities being the most inspirational sports for most adult age groups. In the UK, the Taking Part survey commissioned by the government says that men and women are equally likely to engage in sports and fitness activities. To keep motivation up, fitness-conscious individuals are increasingly breaking out of routine gym-based workouts and are opting for creative fat-burning exercises like dance lessons, intense short workouts, outdoor adventure and fitness-based theme cruises.

The No. 1 New Year’s Resolution is to engage in fitness and exercise, cited by 43% of U.S. adults, followed by healthy eating (37%), according to Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project. 

Pushed to the extreme, the craze around fitness sometimes leads to “bigorexia.” Popular exercise and diet regimes are encouraging consumers to significantly manipulate their natural body shapes, influenced by “perfect” celebrities and models. In the year following the movie 300, released in 2006, Google Trends showed a 300% increase in searches for the term “six pack abs.” Sports addicts arrange their social lives around their gym sessions, and are often appealed by martial-like sports, hence the popularity of boot camps, Mud Days, Ashtanga yoga, etc. With consumers having longer lifespans, organizations of all kinds need to assess what they can do to help them stay fitter for longer.

A social activity

Some still view fitness as a strictly functional activity, that is health- or weight-related, but a growing number of individuals are finding in there a way of escape, stress relief. Besides, for many, exercise goes beyond staying fit and is also a sociable activity: it is an opportunity to learn something new, make friends and feel part of a bigger community. Across Europe in particular, adult engagement in sport has been stimulated by collective sporting activities like yoga, zumba dance, pilates as well as marathon, roller blade runs and boot camps, whose popularity comes from their both health and recreational purposes. Women looking for more fantasy, fun and glamour in their fitness regime go for ballet schools-for-amateurs in Russia (Balletomania and Isadora Ballet) or luxury cancan classes (Le Paradis Latin cabaret club in Paris).

Across Europe in particular, adult engagement in sport has been stimulated by collective sporting activities like yoga, zumba dance, pilates as well as marathon, roller blade runs and boot camps, whose popularity comes from their both health and recreational purposes.

The spirit of these activities focuses on pleasure and well-being by listening to the senses, by feeling good everyday and also by sharing experiences with others. Add to this all the self-tracking tools and community touch-points that allow a seamless and easier fitness experience.

The quantified self

Smartphones offer convenient health & wellness management tools that help consumers manage their lifestyles ever more closely to maximise performance and enhance wellbeing.

The idea of pairing fitness with technology in the form of apps, video games, pedometers and blood pressure monitors has mainstreamed: 75% of U.S. adults owned such a product in December 2013, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Tomorrow’s intelligence-rich technology will allow the global consumer collect real-time data about his or her every movement, with the aim to exercise more and take better care of themselves. The invitation to exercise personal control over a growing number of areas means that people will increasingly be aware of how many calories are in their food, how many miles they have run, etc. Smartphones incorporate mobile, sensing and optical technologies that can be used to empower customers to monitor their own vital signs on a daily basis. The idea of pairing fitness with technology in the form of apps, video games, pedometers and blood pressure monitors has mainstreamed: 75% of U.S. adults owned such a product in December 2013, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Fewer have made the leap to dedicated wearable fitness devices (think clip-on or wristband-style trackers that sync charts and stats with smartphones), but consumers are intrigued. By the end of 2013, 13% were interested in buying one and 9% already had.

Featured examples

Run for Fun

Credit: Runforfun.vanke.com

Credit: Runforfun.vanke.com

In China, big companies have teamed up to organize a March 2014 Run for Fun event to encourage their employees to better manage their health and wellness. The event was launched jointly by well-known local corporations, including Vanke, Ping An Group and Tencent, among others. Last year, the event took place in the city of Shenzhen, and drew 2,994 employees from 72 enterprises.
China China, March 2014

Nike & Elle

Credit: Nike.com

Credit: Nike.com

Nike and Elle magazine have been organizing women-only races in five European cities since May 2013, adding music, design, fashion and fun to the fitness mix. We Own The Night is a 6-mile (or 10 km) route filled with strobe lights, photo booths and high-tempo music aiming to infuse fun into fitness. Elle.com’s Running Club offers video tutorials, guest running blogs, expert tips and reviews of stylish running kits along with dietary advice and a six-week online training course for the run. “Run with Elle” and “Train with Elle” events took place across London, some starting out at the Nike Town store, where cool runners were papped for the magazine.
Global, since May 2013

Morning Glory

Raving is no longer the preserve of midnight revellers fuelled by drugs and alcohol. Now the fitness pack has taken over the concept to help people get high on endorphins as they burn the calories to techno dance tracks. The latest fitness rave has been organised by Morning Glory who helped hundreds ‘rave your way into the day’ across London, Barcelona and Amsterdam. Dances classes run 6:30-10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, provide morning treats like smoothies and coffee for only £10.
United-Kingdom United Kingdom, September 2013

H&M x Alexander Wang

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Swedish fashion chain H&M has partnered with Alexander Wang to launch a limited-edition collection on November, with sports as inspirational theme. The designer has released an interactive video-game-inspired film showing his stylish clothes in action, worn by models Joan Smalls, Natasha Poly, Raquel Zimmermann, and Isabeli Fontana along with soccer player Andy Carroll. The collection has 58 pieces altogether and the line ranges from $10 keychains to $350 jackets. The objects are all priced under $100 except for the backpacks and duffle bags, and the most publicized clothing items are under $100.
France France, November 2014

Benefit Cosmetics’ pop-up pub

Credit: Blog.benefitcosmetics.co.uk

Credit: Blog.benefitcosmetics.co.uk

Targeting soccer widows and female fans alike, Benefit Cosmetics opened a one-month pop-up pub called Gabbi’s Head in London’s Covent Garden during the Fifa World Cup. Fully decorated in pink, the “Bene-pub” allowed female customers to watch a game, enjoy stand-up comedy or indulge in poker, bingo or darts and get beautified at the same time. Benefit beauty artists – dubbed Benebabes – were also on hand to pamper punters with complimentary brow waxes, skin care sessions and make-uppers – a donation to domestic abuse charity Refuge was also welcome.
United-Kingdom United Kingdom, June 2014

Chanel No. 5 campaign

On October 13, Chanel released its perfume No.5 campaign’s new short film, The One That I Want, directed by Baz Luhrmann, celebrating sports as integral part of women’s beauty life. The film begins with Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen riding massive waves in a Chanel wet-suit with a Chanel surfboard, then segues into scenes of her raising a child, followed by snippets of her with big wavy hair in a sparkly gold dress. In essence, we see the many facets of the modern woman: the athlete, the mother, the beauty girl.
Global, October 2013

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Encourage people to do sports: show them a particular attention by dedicating products, services or campaigns specifically to them; give sports/fitness a more positive image to make it more appealing; bond women and sports by creating communities around events; approach sports through a more serious way via politics.

2

Think of activities that resonate with your target market, as not everyone wants to exercise the same way. Pumped-up music for the younger crowd; fitness blended with overall wellness for women who don’t have enough time for themselves; calming but strength-building exercise for seniors…

3

A new fitness programme can be daunting, both physically and socially. Arrange opportunities on a regular basis for newbies to come try for themselves and meet those who are already loyal members. If guest visitors feel that it’s the right fit, they’ll be much more likely to return.

4

Create a real team spirit by engaging participants socially: add micro-moments of entertainment and fun starting with the product message; focus on offerings that don’t just “increase fitness” but invite consumers to experience the joy in music, friendly competition, and discovering their inner strength. Also, side activities like group meals and book clubs, or mixing charity and fundraising with fitness can equally work.

Summary

  • A crop of new activities across the U.S. and Europe are actually helping to change the prejudice that exercise is a chore, and consumers are starting to see that keeping fit can be entertaining, social and fun at the same time.
  • The No. 1 New Year’s Resolution is to engage in fitness and exercise, cited by 43% of US adults, followed by healthy eating (37%), according to 2013 Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project.
  • For many, exercise isn’t just for keeping fit, it is also a sociable activity: it is an opportunity to learn something new, make friends and feel part of a bigger community.
  • Smartphones offer convenient health & wellness management tools that help consumers manage their lifestyles ever more closely to maximize performance and enhance wellbeing.

Experts that we recommend

mathieu-le-maux Mathieu Le Maux
French sports journalist at GQ & author of book Le dico du running (Flammarion, 2014)
david-breton David Le Breton
French anthropologist and body specialist & author of book L’Adieu au corps (Métailié, 2013)
Bernard Andrieu Bernard Andrieu
French professor and body specialist & author of book Le Corps en acte, centenaire Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 2011)
laurent-alexandre Laurent Alexandre
French doctor, founder of Doctissimo.com & co-author of book Adrian Humain 2.0 (Naïve, 2013)