HCM Issue 10 2021

Page 72

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photo: Dean Drobot/SHUTTERSTOCK

D e b at e

FAST FOOD TIE-UPS Smart marketing or risk to reputation? Can partnerships and affiliations with less obvious companies, such as fast food brands, help the industry tap into a new demographic, or is the potential for them to compromise our reputation too big a risk to take? asks Wendy Golledge

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t’s one of the industry’s eternal struggles – how do we get beyond the UK’s gym membership penetration level of 15 per cent and reach out to the 85 per cent of the population who currently don’t have a membership of a fitness facility? The needle has been stuck for longer than most of us care to remember and, try as it might, so far the sector has failed to shift the numbers. One solution, which various operators and organisations – including ukactive – have tested in the past is collaborating with what some might say are more risky partners, such as Coca Cola and Danone, rather than obvious sports brands

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Issue 10 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021

and health insurance companies, who many feel only reach those who are already active. Most recently, fitness marketplace, Hussle, partnered with fast food giant McDonald’s for its annual Monopoly giveaway, as the company was keen to establish whether collaborations like these could enable fitness operators to access new customer bases. We asked leading industry figures whether they believe it’s ‘worth it’. Can this tactic convert a whole new demographic to exercise? And does avoiding a direct association by using third party agents to broker the deal make it an effective strategy, smoothing the way for new user groups while maintaining the sector’s reputation?