Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crossing the Chasm - Future of Fitness Version


A good friend, Robert Dyer, sent me a link to one of the most important documents that's appeared in our industry recently.  If you haven't seen it, Les Mills International partnered with the Nielsen Company to publish "The Future of Fitness: A White Paper."  It can be found  If you don't have a copy or haven't registered at the web site, you should do so!  There is a lot in this paper that needs to be digested by our industry.  As I've read over the paper, contemplating the future, I'd like you all to consider a parallel I believe is relevant.

In the technology development, marketing and adoption life cycle, a standard was introduced in 1991 by author Geoffrey Moore in his book"Crossing The Chasm."  Moore's work defines a technology product adoption model where new products are purchased initially by "innovators"and "visionaries."  This group of enthusiast make up the "early market." As a technology is brought from idea to early market, typically lots of "features" are hung on the product from the advice and feedback of early adopters and are included to create a product that appeals to even more consumers.  The challenge is that in Moore's model, lying between the early adopters and the next group, the early majority, a chasm appears.  The early adopters are consumers who are described as "enthusiasts" and "visionaries."   The next stage, Early Majority are described as "pragmatists. "  Even more daunting, the next groups, Late Majority and Laggeds are described as conservatives and skeptics.  The kind of thinking that appeals to the early adopters WILL NOT appeal to the Early Majority.  But the reward to companies and industries for crossing the chasm is that more than 70% of the market, early and late majority, and laggards,  lie on the other side of the chasm. Companies must change the way they think to effectively move from the enthusiast to the larger majority of the market.

On page 2 of the FOFWP three key challenges are identified from the research: 1. How do we remain relevant among the "converted" consumers(read enthusiasts).  2. Can we improve our offer to those who enjoy fitness but don't like going to the gym (pragmatists?).  3. How do we keep the industry fresh, relevant and competitive in the decades ahead..."  On page 1 the authors point out that "17% of adults belong to health clubs in any single country, and market penetration of10.5% is enough to be among the top ten of all countries."  When you look at this data graphically, our industry is in the "early adopter" stage of the life cycle model.  It seems that we're peering over a chasm at the majority of our potential customers.  Trying to light a rocket under the same thinking that brought us to this point won't be enough to get us across.  Fitness providers have to change the way they think!

What do the following have in common?  Golds Gym and Apple? YMCA and Google?  Personal Trainers and Technology Enthusiasts? Jocks and Geeks?  Until now, they've had very little in common only appearing together as ends of a comparative spectrum.  But our industry is dominated by brands who cater to early adopters like jocks, personal trainers and fitness enthusiast.   To date we've felt progressive stuffing some basic off-the-shelf consumer technology into our current offerings.  I call that putting lipstick on a pig.  As we examine our futures, we need to break away from the mental models that have led us here, just catering to the enthusiast, and begin to build an industry that is more approachable.  I read an article in the Washington Post today that was telling the story of a college that required students with a BMI or over 30 to attend a "Fitness for Life Class" prior to graduation.  That's progressive thinking, send the fat kids to gym class!   We need to prove that our product is stable,(doors stay open, associating with other credible institutions) and our products are reliable and predictable.   We need to see that the pessimistic, conservatives that make up the late majority (we'll probably have a few from that college) can see real return-on-investment.

These are the kinds of things we think about at ViA Performance Systems and you see in action at Lemonade Neighborhood Fitness.   When I opened Lemonade, I wasn't looking for the next big thing that would draw in the enthusiast from the facilities next door.  I asked "what are the basics that most people need in order to more effectively enjoy the life they're given."  I'm proud to say that our clientèle is just that!   We have a new video up on the Lemonade site titled People and Programs.  You can also see it at on YouTube.  I'd love to get you feedback because I know, me and anyone else, is smarter than me!



No comments:

Post a Comment