Most people working in the fitness industry today are well aware that social media serves an important role in marketing and self-promotion. This is especially true for individuals who run their own private business or operate a fitness studio. The “social fitness” phenomenon has had a profound impact on several sectors of the fitness industry affecting how people choose to participate in health and fitness behaviors. Fitness is migrating from a predominantly private activity performed at the gym, to a socially interactive experiences engaged in non-conventional environments. This trend has been in part driven by changes in ideals and desires among Millennials (generally defined as those born between about 1980 and 2000). Millennials comprise nearly 25% of the US population, now outnumbering Baby Boomers, and it is estimated that they will represent nearly 33% of all retail sales in the next few years. This means they have the power to guide the entire landscape of retail - including fitness-related services.
Millennials represent a population which is generally more ethnically diverse, liberal and frugal in their daily spending than Baby Boomers. Boomers tend to be more conservative in nature, but willing to make larger purchases. One critical difference between Millennials and Baby Boomers is their approach to fitness. Baby Boomers tend to buy expensive equipment and binge on a specific activity. They generally like to overindulge and then correct themselves with diet and exercise. Conversely, Millennials tend to follow healthy active lifestyles on a daily basis - but their overall approach to fitness is not as serious or structured. Millennials tend to want to have fun and share their workout experiences with friends and family. This is where social media and lifestyle modernization come into play.
Millennials do not generally want to be defined or classified by their activities. They are more inclined to say something like, “I enjoy running, but I am not a runner.” Most want to try various activities, and share these experiences with friends to make them social events. Because of their relative lack of commitment to a given activity they tend to look for versatile, multi-purpose fitness products and seek related items that are “adequate” for a workout; as opposed to the Boomers’ common desire to buy the “best” in a particular class. Obviously the age difference also extends to differences in expendable income but Millennials tend to select products based on reviews that will get the job done. One other key generational differentiator is the Millennials’ reliance on technology for feedback during training endeavors. They tend to want to measure, track, and share their fitness regime with their friends even taking pictures during the activities to post.
It is becomingly increasingly clear that social media/fitness has altered the way a large portion of the US consumer base thinks about working out and being active. Therefore, fitness brands and companies must attempt to keep pace with this trend to ensure their appeal to the next generation of consumers.