The fitness industry has always been a youth oriented industry with our target market being 20-years-olds (20-29-year-olds). From the late 70's to the early 90's this population fueled the growth that we've all enjoyed. It's important to understand the roll demographics played in our past success so we can understand the roll it will play in our future success or failure.
"The only way you will be significantly successful with adults 40 and older is to change
The U.S. is not the only country in which the population of 20-year-olds is decreasing and the population of 40-year-olds is increasing. Canada's population of 20-year-olds has dropped 10% in the last eight years, with the 40-year-olds outnumbering the 20-year-olds by 13% and climbing to 26% by 2005. Scandinavia isn't far behind with an 8% drop in 20-year-olds and the 40-year-olds outnumbering the 20-year-olds by 8% and climbing to 18% by 2005. Many countries are seeing demographic changes like these.
This decline in 20-year-olds in many countries has resulted in slowed or negative growth of the fitness business in those countries. Many thought that when these active 20-year-olds joined, they would be a member for life. Not so, they joined to improve their physical appearance and for the social aspects. And they had the time. In their 30's they became too busy with marriage, careers, and raising their kids, and their health had not yet become a priority.
Sometime is their 40's through a friend that has a heart attack or seeing their parents age they wake-up to the fact that they are mortal, and their health starts becoming a greater priority. At which time they become a candidate for a fitness membership, but not at all for the reasons they would have joined 20 years earlier. The new member is short on time and hungry for good information. They need to be educated about their body and the importance of a good exercise program. They need a sound program that will respect their time, build strong muscles and bones while preserving their joints and connective tissue, and they need to be motivated for a lifetime of fitness.
In a 1993 study by the Presidents Council of 102 million inactive Americans, "Health" was sighted as the single greatest motivation for physical activity. That same study sighted "Time" the biggest reason for not getting more exercise amongst America's Baby Boomer. Baby Boomers are those Americans born from 1946 through 1964, a 19 year period. Today, they are between the ages of 38 and 56.
For the first time we have two totally different markets and they need to be treated as such. Do you have to make a choice? You may already have. To do nothing different means you choose to stay with the 20-year-olds. The only way you will be significantly successful with adults 40 and older is to change. Change the way you market your facility, maybe even change your facility. Eliminate anything that might be intimidating. Change the way you sell memberships. Sell by educating, and service by addressing their needs.
You will need to know your member. The functional capacity of 20-year-olds doesn't vary much, but as we get older the functional capacity of those of the same age vary considerable. All 20-year-olds are about the same, but not all 50-year-olds, and by 70, those of similar age will differ considerably in their functional capability. You need to know and understand your older members. If you take the time to get to know your prospective member during the sales process, you will know enough about their needs to sell them a membership.
If you do, your target market is not just the 40-year-olds, because you sell and service 50-year-olds the same way. By 2010 the 40, 50, and 60-year-old market will be three to four times greater than the 20-year-old market in most countries.
We have the research all ready in place to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that exercise, especially strength training, will play a key roll in the quality of their life as they get older. You can see from this the opportunity we have for growth if we focus on getting the message of health and quality of life to today's 40+ year-old. We've never been better poised for expansion than we are right now, and it gets better every day.
About Dennis Keiser
Dennis Keiser is the founder of Keiser Corporation. For the last ten years Keiser Corp. has been involved in research on strength training and its effect on aging. Keiser has become the leader in serving the needs of an aging population. They have developed a non-intimidating line of pneumatic resistance machines that are ergonomically designed for ease of getting in and out of and providing proper support to critical joints, lower back, and other areas of the bodies
Go to Keiser contact page
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