Health & Fitness Industry Outlook 2014: Opportunities for Branded Video Content

As U.S. consumers look to improve their health and wellness this year, opportunities for branded video content emerge for fitness clubs, diet programs, vitamins/vitamin-related products and day spas. According to a January 2014 survey from Mintel, 62% of respondents plan to exercise regularly this year, 50% plan to lose weight, 44% plan to take vitamins regularly and 42% plan to reduce their stress. Pair this with the fact that 35% of people are most likely to respond to an online video ad that appears alongside health and fitness content (Adroit Digital), and you have a recipe for brand success.

In our Health & Fitness Outlook, we’ll break down the industry into four categories: fitness clubs, diet programs, vitamins/vitamin-related products and day spas.

Fitness Clubs

From 2007 to 2012, health and fitness club revenues have increased 17% and they’re expected to increase another 19% by 2017. A 2013 Global Consumer Fitness Survey from Nielsen found that 27% of the total adult population (across 13 countries) attends a gym, fitness center or health club and that 61% of regular exercisers are currently doing gym-type activities.

U.S. health club membership signups increased 21.5% from 2005 to 2012 as more and more Americans pursued healthier lifestyles. However, there are two main barriers to fitness club signups: price and feeling out of place.

As a result, fitness and health clubs have tailored their marketing efforts to push lower signup costs and inclusivity. With more than 700 videos on its YouTube channel, Planet Fitness has embraced online video advertising to promote its reasonable prices and “judgment free zone.” The company has racked up over 17.6 million total video views and has produced a few viral hits including the spots below.

Planet Fitness has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years. From 2011 to 2013, membership to the gym grew 50% to 4.3 million members. At the end of 2008, the chain operated at 242 locations. By April 2013, the number had jumped to 636. Planet Fitness recently hit five million members and is now the fastest-growing gym chain in the U.S. (Business Insider). The company’s success with online video marketing has no doubt been a key driver of this growth.

Fitness and health clubs are using online video to highlight customer success stories, showcase individual personal trainers, flaunt lower membership prices, provide viewers with the best workout tips & tricks and to display the wide array of equipment/classes/features the gym offers.

As U.S. adults are now spending on average 5 hours 46 minutes on digital devices each day (eMarketer), it’s imperative for health and fitness clubs to create digital content and optimize it for mobile devices and desktop computers.

Diet Programs

Americans spend an estimated $40 billion dollars each year on weight-loss programs and products (Businessweek). According to ABC News, 108 million Americans are on diet, and these people make four to five attempts to diet each year. This has paved the way for the rise of diet and weight-loss programs including Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig and Slim-Fast.

We’ll take a look at how each of these companies is utilizing digital advertising, online video in particular, to drive sign ups and overall marketing goals. Weight Watchers hosts only 24 videos on its YouTube channel; a majority of the videos promote the company’s Simple Start (“A two-week plan to start losing weight right away and jumpstart a whole new beginning.”) or feature brand ambassador Jessica Simpson.

She has generated the most attention (i.e. YouTube views) for the brand, as the total number of views on her featured videos exceeds 375,000. However, even though Weight Watchers may not have the strongest presence on YouTube, the brand is still connecting with customers through this engaging medium.

Weight Watchers hosted a video contest to promote its line of low fat, low calorie, high fiber meals: Smart Ones. The company encouraged customers to “’fess up, and tell Smart Ones how you clean your slate and stay on track,” after experiencing setbacks.

In May, Weight Watchers confirmed that it had acquired Wello, a startup that that connects people with personal trainers to receive private fitness consultations through online video chat. This increased interest and investment in communication through online video is proof that Weight Watchers is dedicated to catering to its consumers’ digital habits.

“We have an ambitious technology vision,” Weight Watchers’ CTO Dan Crowe said. “We will become a 21st-century technology organization, engineered for the digital era, whose innovative technology fundamentally improves the way people manage their weight, health and wellness.”

Weight Watchers International reported marketing expenses of $343.5 million in 2012, an increase of $51.2 million, according to its annual report.

Next up is Nutrisystem, a provider of structured home-delivered weight-loss meal plans. The company houses 33 videos on its YouTube channel and features brand ambassadors Melissa Joan Hart, Dr. Baldwin and Marie Osmond.

The channel also highlights success stories in behind-the-scenes clips—a select number of women with Nutrisystem success stories are featured in the company’s television commercials.

Nutrisystem even reached out to a largely untapped market in the weight-loss program industry: men. This year, the company produced a Father’s Day ad featuring a father and husband who had lost almost 250 lbs. with the help of Nutrisystem.

Moving on to Jenney Craig, a weight management company that provides food and one-on-one consulting. The company’s YouTube channel features 56 videos, its last few clips announcing and celebrating the return of Kirstie Alley as a brand ambassador.

Jenny Craig’s videos highlight the quality of its food and several success stories. The company is investing heavily in digital and is updating its platform to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

“Jenny’s new digital platform incorporates best-practice SEO and Sitecore’s eCommerce engine which powers ‘Jenny Home Delivery’, giving customers the ability to effortlessly buy the Jenny Craig program and meals online. Featuring forums and video, users can now interact with Jenny and track their weight-loss goals,” states a webinar introduction.

Last but not least is Slim-Fast. The company created a YouTube account just two months ago, but already has 16 videos uploaded for a total of 15,000 views. The company’s branding strategy is up in the air, as just recently parent company Unilever sold the weight-loss program to Kainos Capital.

Slim-Fast’s existing YouTube videos seem promising, all created to promote its “14 Days to Slim.”

Though each weight-loss program is investing somewhat in online video content, there is room for improvement. Online video shouldn’t be an afterthought or an outlet for random material a company has on hand. In order to engage the millions of Americans who watch online videos each month, weight-loss programs should focus on creating original, entertaining, informative content to grow and nurture their online audiences.

Vitamins & Vitamin-Related Products

In 2011, sales of all dietary supplements in the United States totaled an estimated $30 billion. This amount included $12.4 billion for all vitamin- and mineral-containing supplements (Source). In this category, we’ll discuss digital marketing strategies for both nutrient-enhanced drinks and actual supplements.

Vitaminwater, though criticized for its health claims, is a perceived leader in the nutrient-enhanced beverage market. The company has a strong YouTube presence and boasts more than 300 videos on its channel. Early last year, Vitaminwater launched a YouTube campaign, “uncapped,” in which it hosted and filmed a series of live music events across nine U.S. cities.

Utilizing TrueView ads and other Google-owned ad units, Vitaminwater generated more than 500,000 total views for this video series. According to a Google case study on the “uncapped” campaign, “consumers who chose to watch uncapped content on TrueView often consumed more videos and subscribed to the vitaminwater® YouTube brand channel,” and “remarketing led to higher video consumption and engagement rates.”

Anthony Martinez, Senior Integrated Communications Manager at The Coca-Cola Company, emphasized that for vitaminwater® (subsidiary of Coca-Cola), “Digital is no longer an afterthought. We’re putting it at the center of how we connect with consumers, both in experiences we create in the offline world, and in how we bring those experiences to the digital space.”

Another nutrient-enhanced beverage company, ACTIVATE Drinks, is using online video and digital advertising to promote its core brand message of vitamin efficacy. The ACTIVATE drink bottles feature fresh twist cap technology—vitamins that dissolve in water are held within the cap and released when the cap is twisted. In July of last year, the company created this PSA to highlight its largest differentiator.

The campaign also included a Facebook app that allowed users to generate personalized vitamin advocacy video snippets. After people created their videos, they had the opportunity to share it amongst friends and receive a full value coupon for a bottle of ACTIVATE as a reward.

When it comes to video advertising, there is a huge opportunity for vitamin vendors. Very few of these vendors own YouTube channels or consistently upload content. Keep in mind, a significant percentage of people are most likely to interact with video ads displayed alongside health and fitness content. Vitamin vendors should begin to provide consumers with informative, engaging video content.

A trend amongst vitamin vendors that do upload online video is the repurposing of television content (i.e. many of the videos are TV commercials). Though it’s commendable to have some sort of online video presence, video viewers are more likely to respond to fresh, original, creative video ads.

Most vitamin vendors need to step up their online video game if they want to attract a larger audience of health-conscious consumers.

Day Spas

According to a whitepaper from Avenue Media Group, “The visual experience of seeing spa and salon services in action creates interest from potential clientele and can ultimately seal the deal. In fact, online video is said to influence 90% of consumer buying decisions.”

Here are two examples from day spas that have decided to invest in video advertising.

Day spas have the opportunity to engage consumers through video contests, live video feeds and special video offers. Hosting video content on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter should also be a priority for day spas and salons. According to SpaBoom, 97% of consumers now use online media when researching local products and 58% report using an online promotion when shopping for local products or services.

Give consumers an audio/visual experience of your salon through online video. There is no better way to connect with potential clients.

Taking into account the information above, below is our 2014 outlook for the health & fitness industry.

The health & fitness industry will continue to sprint, full steam, into the digital advertising arena. At its roots, the industry serves to promote and embody the notion of constant improvement by being on the go. In order to mirror this mentality and the changing consumer behavior, health & fitness brands will invest heavily in the most convenient platform for the active population: mobile.

Mobile advertising among the health, fitness & wellness industry has already proven to be a primary focus, as ad spending from 2012 to 2013 experienced a 177% increase, and we expect that trend to continue exponentially into the future.

With the health & fitness industry being highly concentrated and segmented between diet and weight-loss programs, health clubs, day spas, and vitamins and supplements, differentiation is key. All health & fitness brands are competing for the same health-conscious consumer, and online video marketing allows for a more interactive and engaging communication strategy.

Health & fitness is a community-driven practice, which is the ideal touch point for branded engagement with consumers. People at any fitness level seek the advice of professionals, peers and trusted brands when starting out on a health regime. Health organizations must use this opportunity to support and encourage consumers.

Since consumers like to visualize health benefits and trends—new workouts, weight-loss results, healthy diet ideas, etc.—brand promotion through imagery is vital, with online video and online mobile apps serving as the perfect vehicle. Brands need to design online video campaigns to target and attract the right audience, and retain engagement through the use of mobile content, like apps and wearable technology.

More and more consumers are addressing their individual health and fitness needs, but they can’t do it alone. Online video content enables consumers to engage with brands while increasing their fitness knowledge. However, the best way to ensure consistent brand visibility within the health & fitness industry comes from supplementing online video content with mobile apps and health tracking technology. Simply put, “no matter who uses smartphone apps to keep tabs on health, consumers make them a part of their daily routines.” Design online video campaigns and mobile apps accordingly, and the right consumers will make your brand a part of their daily routine.

Enjoy what you’ve read? Check out our industry outlooks for the retail, entertainment and automotive industries. 

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