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Marketing to the Health Industry and Fitness Buffs - Find a Niche

Why One Size Product Does Not Fit All

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Marketing to the Health and Fitness Buff

According to Ann Berkly, Fitness.Suite 101.com: "American Fitness in its May-June 2002 issue wrote that the fitness club industry is hardy during tough economic times and, in 2007, the Minneapolis-based Mercanti Group found that health club membership topped 41 million in the United States and revenues exceeded US $17 billion annually. Since 1983, the business has grown by 8 percent yearly. In 2008, worldwide memberships topped 85 billion."

Upscale, expensive exercise equipment sales may be suffering, but millions of people are locked into gym memberships and continue to workout. Fitness gurus (and wanna-be-gym Barbies - myself included) are more likely to splurge on health-related products than on a new flat screen T.V.

People who are into fitness are often deeply committed to an entire lifestyle that includes being active and eating healthy. They are not likely to start eating Hershey bars just because the price of power bars has risen. President Barack Obama epitomizes the serious health buff, "Most of my workouts have to come before my day starts. There's always a trade-off between sleep and working out." And, he is not alone.

As more workers are laid off, many will hit the gym to get back into shape thinking it might help them re-enter the job market. We live in a "body beautiful" youth-oriented culture and dropping ten pounds couldn't hurt most of us.

As America faces an ever-growing aging population and an epidemic of metabolic obesity-related problems like pre-diabetes and diabetes, working out becomes a necessity for people who want to live longer, healthier lives.

Low-End Fitness Product Ideas

Think affordable items that suggest "splurge" but do not cost a lot: tricked-out gym mats, personalized sweat towels, water bottles, accessories for bikers, hikers (include the dog, as well), and swimmers.

Target a Niche in the Health Industry

To keep up with trends, gyms understand that not all workout markets are equal. To attract more clients they may segregate men and women or only exclusively serve one sex (think "Curves).

The latest trend is to give older people their own little corner of the gym where they can workout without being rushed. There is even a gym in Portland, Oregon that has gone as "green" as it gets - the power of exercisers is used to generate power to certain building functions.

What ideas can you come up with to help seniors in their workouts? Softer, thick mats? Easier to carry sports bags? More comfortable workout clothing, sweatbands, or even music to listen to while working out?

What about the "green" gym buffs? Eco-friendly mats are on the upswing. How about eco-friendly gym bags to go with? And let's not forget to cater to the moms who drop their kids in the gym's nursery - what products can you create for the kids or the moms so both can have a more enjoyable gym stay?

My point is simply this: there is no one mass fitness market. Like most industries it is filled with niches. Find yours, and "just do it."

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Brian Price, executive director of marketing
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