A Club Brand with Purpose Resonates with Members

Every member shares your fitness values, but having them align with your purpose creates a higher level of loyalty.

The fitness industry offers a unique value proposition: Your consumer already shares your mindset regarding the importance of fitness. So, how can you draw them closer? In what way can your values help you instill an even deeper loyalty?

Let them see your purpose. Statistics show that standing for something—having a purpose—truly resonates with consumers.

Tapping the Power of Purpose

When choosing brands to do business with, consumers are increasingly showing that they care about more than simply the products or services they offer; they care about the impact the brand is making on the world.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek, author of the book Start With Why, who introduced the idea of defining purpose to a global audience in a TED Talk. “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

Loosely defined, a brand purpose describes the way a company intends to change the world for the better. Its goal is to unite customers and culture in pursuing that intention.

In providing equipment designed to create rather than consume energy, manufacturer SportArt’s overall purpose, for example, is to provide a way to preserve the planet through its sustainable products and operations as a global brand.

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The concept of purpose can be utilized, in part, to reshape the ways companies deal with their customers. A recent report from consulting firm Accenture, Growth: It Comes Down to Experience, notes that organizations are achieving greater success moving to a model that focuses on the Business Experience (BX), which is based on solving a human need around a purpose, as opposed to the traditional Customer Experience (CX), which is built on optimizing customer touchpoints around products and services. The data reveals that BX companies outperformed their CX-oriented peers by 600% in terms of profitability year-over-year over a seven-year period.

What drives that performance? Consumer desire. The recent 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study shows that when consumers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are:

  • Four times more likely to purchase from the company;
  • Six times more likely to protect the company in the event of a misstep or public criticism;
  • Four-and-a-half times more likely to champion the company and recommend it to friends and family; and
  • Approximately four times more likely to trust the company.

In addition, 94% of global consumers say it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong purpose, and they reward those who do with greater loyalty and better bottom-line results.

A Popular Purpose

Going back to the SportsArt example, sustainability is proving to be a powerful purpose; one around which consumers will align.

On the corporate side, more than 90% of CEOs now say that sustainability is fundamental to their success. In fact, the U.S. sustainability market is projected to reach $150 billion in sales this year, according to Nielsen.

Again, it’s consumers who are driving the sustainability opportunity. On average, 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada think it is important that a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly, according to a new study by IBM and the National Retail Federation (NRF). That cohort is also willing to pay 35% more upfront for sustainable purchases, such as recycled or eco-friendly goods.

In short, consumers are exhibiting “an increased willingness to pay premiums for products that align with their values," says Mark Mathews, vice president, research development and industry analysis for the NRF.

And they clearly want to do business with companies and brands whose purpose is rooted in sustainability.

How SportsArt Lives its Purpose

With sustainability as its backdrop, SportsArt’s operations truly embody its purpose. IHRSA has written about some of the initiatives the manufacturer has undertaken in support of its objective—such as producing its machines in a fully sustainable facility—but the work goes much deeper. It’s about building a culture of social sustainability.

It’s an overarching philosophy that filters down into everyday activities.

Supplier content woman gym sportsart limited use column

“We practice eco-friendly office behaviors, like keeping electronics off until needed, printing only when necessary, etc.,” relates Ruben Mejia, SportsArt executive vice president, Americas. “At our HQ, we provide lunch to our employees at no charge; our kitchen staff hands out hundreds of plates every day. Food waste is then given to local farmers for compost or to feed their pigs.”

At the heart of that culture is SportsArt’s employees.

“During any new employee’s training phase, we’ve got a standard message about our sustainable culture, and that message is reinforced every day in everything we do,” he says. “We actively seek people who want to be a part of something more than just a company, and who are not just here to collect a paycheck. And we want them to live the culture.

“At our Seattle office, for example, one employee noticed that cardboard was being thrown into the trash,” Mejia continues. “Realizing that the business park where we lease the office didn’t have that service, she sought out services that recycled cardboard on her own and we started using that service. We want our employees to be motivated to make positive change and we empower them to do so. When you have a sustainable culture, everyone contributes to the organization’s success and betterment.”

Mejia adds that clients are specifically attracted to SportsArt’s purpose.

“These are clubs and facilities whose operators and members are into sustainability—and its benefits—for the long haul,” he says. “As a result, our clients stay with us for long periods of time.”

One such client is David Matthews, owner of Quality Fitness Mukilteo in Mukilteo, Washington.

“I was definitely drawn in by their commitment to sustainability,” he says. “From the moment I first contacted SportsArt, it was almost surreal. I was only buying a single treadmill, and none of the other manufacturers I contacted cared the way they did. They visited my gym, went over all the options with me after learning more about my business, and explained all the sustainable benefits of the equipment. After my business grew, I moved into a much larger space and, of course, I filled my gym with SportsArt equipment. Their philosophy brought us together, and their commitment to it and to us as clients will keep us together.”

To learn more about SportsArt, visit their website.

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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to IHRSA.org.