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Why Health Clubs Should Try ‘Emotional Marketing’

Consumers want to feel good and do good. Give them a meaningful experience and you’ll enhance your brand.

This won’t surprise anyone, but marketing trends are shifting again. What’s driving it are that much-discussed—and misunderstood—generation, Millennials.

A new IHRSA toolkit, "Give Your Health Club a Millennial Makeover," lays out the case that Millennials are committed to health and fitness, but in terms of wellness and mental health. According to research from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Millennials have suffered a 47% increase in depression diagnoses since 2013. They also have related health problems as a result. Currently, they’re projected to have poorer mortality rates than their older cohorts, Generation X.

It’s no wonder that, according to research by Trans America Center for Health Studies, “Most Millennials consider preventive healthcare and self-care their most important health-related priorities.” And mental health is at the top of the list.

Sales and marketing sportsart woman on verde treadmill column

Health clubs are in a unique position to deliver services that increase physical and mental health. And when done right, clubs can foster community at a time when people feel adrift, stressed, and alone due to financial pressures and the anxiety created by technology, including social media.

For health clubs to appeal to Millennials and the younger Generation Z, who have similar profiles in health and attitudes, marketers need to appeal to what’s important to them. This is where “emotional marketing” comes in.

Reaching Millennials with ‘Emotional Marketing’

According to HubSpot, emotional marketing is “marketing and advertising efforts that primarily use emotion to make your audience notice, remember, share, and buy.” Emotional marketing connects with their audience by enhancing their self-esteem, making them feel that they’re part of a bigger mission. It bonds the brand to the consumer. A good example of successful emotional marketing is the #LikeAGirl campaign from the brand Always.

Studies show that emotional marketing, when done well, works wonders. Thirty years of case studies analyzed by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) found that “campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well” compared to marketing that used rational persuasion to appeal to consumers.

If you’re recruiting the most valued demographic in the health club industry, you need to build an emotional connection with your prospects. For Millennials, that means appealing to their highest priorities. They’re seeking ways to improve their mental health, reduce anxiety, and promote wellness.

An aspect of Millennial mental outlook is their feelings of isolation. A study by Cigna found that nearly 50% of Millennials felt lonely much of the time. That tells us that social media isn’t filling the void and may in fact be making young people feel more adrift from others. (Generation Z, the next youngest generation, actually fared worse with higher levels of loneliness among the group.)

Clubs that provide a social atmosphere, that make Millennials feel that they’re part of a larger group working together, can help brands break through and give these young consumers a “home.”

This is in harmony with another Millennial quality: They place a very high value on brands that are “value-based,” that support a cause they believe in. According to Forbes, “79% of millennial employees are loyal to companies that care about their effect on society.”

If you combine a connected social experience with a shared social mission, you can create a meaningful bond with Millennials (as well as Generation Z).

It’s hard to find an issue that Millennials are more passionate about than climate change and sustainability. As the Forbes article further explains, Millennials “want to defend their future and the planet, which is leading them to choose firms that embrace sustainability.”

Health clubs can make a powerful emotional appeal to Millennials by offering an experience that helps improve their wellness profile while promoting sustainability. Considering the enormous amount of research on exercise and mental health, when a club then adds a sustainability dimension to their brand reputation, the appeal can be irresistible to Millennial audiences.

Equipment That Will Emotionally Connect with Millennials

Technology Sportsart Eco Power Line Column Width

The gold standard in sustainable exercise equipment is SportsArt Fitness. Innovators of the “watts-to-grid” technology, SportsArt’s slogan, “Change the world one workout at a time,” seems tailor-made for this moment. Their line of ECO-POWR cardio units can help any club make a deep emotional connection to consumers seeking a values-based brand that takes a stand for climate-related issues.

Front and center in their product selection is the Verde, which SportsArt cites as the “world’s first energy producing treadmill.” Utilizing the company’s pioneering green technology, the Verde harnesses human effort to generate energy that is fed back into an electric grid by as much as 200 watts per hour.

While the unit has no motor, it has state-of-the-art tech support, with USB ports, a three-speed fan, and the optional SA WELL+ system that connects to an app. This delivers information to the exerciser, telling them how much energy their workout is producing in easy-to-understand comparisons to everyday objects

For those not ready for the Verde, SportsArt features an ECO-NATURAL line of treadmills that uses 32% less energy than a standard motor. But all SportsArt treadmills are engineered for maximum durability and pleasing aesthetics, with options for premium entertainment and LCD screen features.

For today’s Millennial audience, SportsArt’s energy-saving cardio machines are the ultimate fitness influencers that will enhance any club’s emotional marketing appeal.

To learn more about the Verde and SportsArt’s ECO-POWR and ECO-NATURAL cardio units, visit their website or call 800-709-1400.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org