By Rich Synnott, VP Active Entities Consulting, LLC

Rich Synott

Market segmentation creates the opportunity to successfully advertise, launch new products, find out what members need and want, and supports your club branding. 

There are 5 types of market segmentation:

  1. Demographic (age, gender, occupation, income, education)
  2. Geographic ( where do they work, live, travel)
  3. Behavioral (steps in the buying process, what customers want, benefits to the customer, how will their needs be met)
  4. Psychographic (personality, social status, lifestyle, activities, opinions, pain points)
  5. Firmographic (used to target businesses by industry, # of employees, company size)

The health club industry has used the first 3 (demographic, geographic, and behavioral) for many years in its search for new members. Collecting the information for those 3 is easily obtained, and there are vertical market companies that can be hired to provide this for you. However, in our opinion, not many clubs have done a good job with collecting psychographic information on their members. Only in the last several years have some clubs done a better job at finding out about the psychographic needs of their current, and potential members. Psychographic information is obtained by using survey questions like “what is your biggest challenge with…”, “please rate a class, our cleanliness, our brand”, “ which club in our market provides the best…”. We suggest using Likert Scale questions that pose questions on the ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’ continuum to rate member satisfaction in various areas of the facility, products or services.

Very few of the clubs that we have worked with had ever done a substantive member survey to find out what member’s think- what they like and what they’d like to see done better. Among the ones that did do surveys, the information wasn’t shared with members. Most did not even share the data with their own staff. The results of survey suggestions, pain points, or lower than wanted rated areas should be addressed, with an action plan the club has created to improve upon. Those plans should be communicated to staff and members. This shows that management listens to, and cares, about its members.

A general survey should be performed for all members at least annually. Other surveys that target a smaller specific segment of members such as personal training clients, group exercise participants, child care parents, people taking lessons, etc should be done periodically on a schedule throughout the year. Staff should be encouraged to create “clubs within the club” for members within their “sphere” to further market segmentation. Personal trainers can share content with their clients about successes, new programs, menus, or fitness tips. Group exercise instructors, child care staff, swim instructors and other staff all have their own market groups. Stay in contact regularly. This micro market segmentation speaks directly to member opinions and needs which creates brand loyalty, enhances the member experience, and helps sell other products and services.