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Pure Gym most recognised brand in sample of health club operators

Brand experts, Kantar, has carried out consumer research into a sample of fitness operators
Pure Gym was the most recognised brand, followed by David Lloyd Leisure and Fitness First. The Gym Group was not included in the sample
Kantar also carried out a SWOT analysis, finding brand differentiation – and being able to message this – is crucial
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Brand specialist, Kantar, has ranked a key group of health and fitness operators by consumer awareness scores to find a winner in a prompted recall test.

The insight is based on interviews with 401 consumers who are, or have been, members of a health club, who were asked questions around brand awareness and value for money.

Pure Gym came top in brand recall with a score of 92 per cent, well ahead of second place David Lloyd Leisure at 78 per cent, with Fitness First – one of the first ever gym brands – still enjoying strong recall at 76 per cent.

Virgin Active was next at 72 per cent, indicating that perhaps it hasn't optimally leveraged the Virgin name, while Nuffield Health came in at 72 per cent.

JD Gyms was next at 68 per cent and Everyone Active 41 per cent. The Gym Group was not included in the sample.

Kantar also conducted a SWOT analysis of each brand, highlighting measures each can take to improve competitiveness and consumer engagement.

Kantar says Nuffield Health’s brand doesn’t justify its price, while Everyone Active has a distinctive personality.

The researchers recommend that Nuffield Health should target Virgin Active members to capture more market share and warns that while it’s a brand in demand, many customers are looking for an alternative.

The likes of PureGym and Everyone Active – which now offers access to GPs – and is challenging well for a small brand, with no specific weaknesses, could steal market share.

David Lloyd Leisure has great brand awareness, but is also seen as high-priced and not enough people have tried the brand. As many consumers are considering trading down, Kantar recommends making products available in affordable packages.

JD Gyms is advised to check activation around decisions at the point of sale, as based on the number of 'considerers', its levels of purchase/usage are low.

Although PureGym enjoys the highest brand recognition and best value and this perceived price advantage is driving sales and usage, Kantar says customers are looking at alternatives, so the company needs to leverage trust in its brand, its value and awareness.

Seen as a value operator, Fitness First has been advised to use price as a competitive advantage and also to work on differentiating the brand.

Virgin Active is seen as ‘margin risk’, which, according to the insight, means it “could be in trouble if it doesn’t demonstrate value to its members”. Kantar recommends investing in the brand and limiting the use of price promotions to those that will drive people to do a trial. Also advising the operator to create ‘bundle’ options to improve value perception, potentially using a ‘good, better, best’ strategy.

HCM editor, Liz Terry, who analysed the Kantar report says operators must commit far more to understanding current and potential consumers, saying: "The health club market has traditionally been very focused on operations, growth, investment and servicing members, with not enough tactical work being done on consumer insight and customer sentiment analysis.

"It's vital for the success of the sector that we take steps to better understand how consumers see us – our strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities that exist for growth and engagement with a wider group of customers."

For more fascinating insights, read the full report in this month's HCM.

Kantar insight

Brand awarenessSelected health and fitness operators

Pure Gym 92%

David Lloyd Leisure 78%Fitness First 76%

Virgin Active 72%Nuffield Health 72%

JD Gyms 68%Everyone Active 41%

The percentage of people who are aware of the brand when prompted.

All respondents are category users

Copyright. Kantar Group and Affiliates 2022

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Nuffield Health’s brand doesn’t justify its price, while Everyone Active has a distinctive personality according to brand experts, Kantar, which has undertaken consumer research into some leading fitness companies.