Written by Thomas Inskip • Published 21st December 2015

The 2015 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the health club industry is continuing to grow with more clubs, more members and a greater market value than ever before (£4.3bn). And this is just the health club sector. With each sector of the fitness industry becoming more and more crowded, what do fitness brands need to do in order to position themselves as market leaders? Here, we take a look at five great ways to do just that.

1) Sharing success stories
Consumers will always be drawn to fitness brands if they can see that the product or service is having a positive impact on people’s lives. The leading gym chain in the UK, PureGym, has been very successful in placing case studies, which show off how the gym chain has helped to change members’ lives for the better.

Some examples:
A member who has used Pure Gym facilities to lose weight
A member who is using exercise to fight off mental health problems
A personal trainer duo who launched a class for mental health

2) Utilising Instagram Influencers
In a recent survey by One Poll, Instagram was voted one of the biggest influencers, when it comes to consumer behaviour, ahead of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Every month we are witnessing more and more influential Instagram users pop up on the scene, users who inform and educate their followers about health, fitness and nutrition through their Instagram channels.

These individuals are all part of a new generation of online influencer, which the savviest fitness brands are already tapping into.

Although an online health and fitness influencer may have a smaller reach than traditional media outlets, their followers are likely to be precisely the target audience that fitness brands are looking to attract.

Fitness clothing brand Gymshark, which was founded just over two years, has clearly invested a lot of its marketing budget on engaging with online influencers. Now Gymshark is a market leader in the “trendy” gym clothing sector. Through effectively engaging with online influencers, the brand has built up a social following of over 1m on Facebook and over 625k on Instagram.

Here are some great examples of social media influencers that health and fitness brands should look to engage with:

Lydia Millen and Ali Gordon: They are known as ‘The Lifestyle Couple’ of social media with almost 400k followers between them. They currently work with the likes of GymShark, a leading supplement brand and the camera brand Olympus

• The Harrison Twins: Owen and Lewis Harrison have over 500,000 followers between them and are the face of leading sports nutrition brand My Protein.

Zanna Van Dijk: Zanna has attracted a great deal of attention for documenting her body transformation on Instagram. She now has 69k followers and works with a number of brands in the fitness food sector.

3) Becoming a voice of authority
If yours is a fitness brand which focuses on the wellbeing of its customers then it is important that consumers believe in, and respect, the advice and opinion of individuals within your organisation. Positioning these individuals as voices of authority within the media is a great way of gaining respect from consumers and also cementing the reputation of your brand as a trustworthy industry leader.

In order to gain that respect, key spokespeople from your organisation should be writing thought leadership pieces on a regular basis on the subject(s) that they specialise in. It is also important to keep on top of the news agenda, as this will help to provide your spokespeople with the opportunity to react and respond to relevant news stories which are been covered in the media.

LDN Muscle, a business which produces downloadable e-guides, are regularly featured in this way in the media. Often, this even goes as far as providing them with the opportunity to use negative stories, as a way of promoting their own products and services in a positive way:

Here are some examples:

• When reality TV star Spencer Matthews was in the spotlight for using steroids, LDN Muscle provided a guide for consumers on how to bulk up naturally, without the use of steroids

• When TOWIE star Gemma Collins discussed her use of juice diets, LDN Muscle provided comment on the dangers of such diets and explained how to get in shape using their Bikini Guides, instead


Lucy Mecklenburgh - Ellesse - fitness

Image: Ellesse

4) Securing celebrity ambassadors
Many brands within the health and fitness space choose to utilise celebrity ambassadors to help build the profile of their brand and promote their products or services.

When it comes to brands identifying a suitable celebrity ambassador, it is imperative that they choose someone who their target market can relate to, and will respond to.

One of the best celebrity partnerships of 2015 was that launched by clothing label Ellesse with Lucy Mecklenburgh. The partnership was designed to promote Ellesse’s range of fitness clothing. Lucy is incredibly popular amongst young females and has shown an incredible passion for fitness in recent years. As such, this was a brand ambassador relationship which was believable, and which effectively targeted the correct end user.

5) Exploring cross promotion
With so many different markets in the fitness industry, there are many opportunities for brands to cross-promote their services with other brands operating in the same sector.

This tactic not only enables both brands to gain access to the database and social media channels of the other but, in doing so, it also allows both businesses gain a greater level of exposure amongst a new audience.

Specialist food company MuscleFood has carried out cross-promotional activity with brands in the running events sector and protein market, as well as with gyms and online personal trainers. MuscleFood always offers strong promotional discounts and competition prizes when it does this type of activity. Both brands, meanwhile, benefit from a greater level of exposure. As with GymShark, MuscleFood has, through cross-promotional activity such as this, been able to gain a very strong presence on social media, including 95K followers on Instagram.