Any CrossFit box owner knows how critical it is to maintain and grow membership. Without those (rabid) fitness enthusiasts, eventually there will be no box, no matter how good the trainers, equipment and camaraderie. It is for this reason that many gym owners spend their two most precious resources – time and money – trying to attract millennials.
According to Pew Research, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2016, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.
The millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Boomers – whose generation was defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II – are older and their numbers shrinking as the number of deaths among them exceeds the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.
Here is a breakdown of the most recent generations:
Millennials Are the Perfect Fit for CrossFit
The reason CrossFit gym owners think (a LOT) about millennials is because that they are health fanatics! More than any other group, millennials are laser focused on healthy lifestyle. This is exhibited in several ways. Their obesity rates are falling, they search out healthy foods and they demand better, more effective workouts. They are also bored easily! This mirrors the typical (if there is such an animal) CrossFit athlete.
Women’s Marketing noted, “Prior generations may have exercised in traditional gyms, but the monotony of the treadmill or stair climber doesn’t appeal to the adventurous millennial. They are avoiding exercise boredom with endurance challenges that push them to excel or small boutique-style fitness classes that offer variety and personalized service.
“A full 81 percent of millennials say they exercise regularly, but 72 percent believe that gym memberships are too expensive. Although they haven’t completely abandoned multi-purpose facilities, boutique gyms that offer specialized classes, group workouts, and a community atmosphere are growing in popularity. Dedicated micro-gyms that offer authentic experiences, service, and the ability to connect with like-minded individuals is a trend that appeals to the millennials’ desire for a unique experience.”
Understanding these motivations are keys to attracting the group to a CrossFit gym.
Tracking Success and Sharing on Social Media are Very Important
In addition to being highly competitive, millennials are very “social” and this has attracted them to fitness apps and a sharing of their progress on social networks such as Facebook. A savvy CrossFit gym owner is aware of this and uses social media in marketing and membership engagement.
Research has shown that fitness apps are also helping workout enthusiasts to track their workouts and share their success on social media, something that especially pleases the socially-networked millennial woman. “Among those ages 18 to 29, 24 percent had health apps on their phones. This research found that college-educated women under age 50 with an average household income of at least $75,000 are more likely than others to have downloaded at least one health app.”
The report from Women’s Marketing noted that since they are very social “that dynamic spills into every aspect of their lives—and their workouts are no exception. The popularity of fun, group exercise such as Zumba, SoulCycle, and CrossFit, that turn workouts into a social event are popular with this demographic. Competitive and team-based race participation has skyrocketed among Gen Y—Running USA reports that the number of road race finishers tripled between 1990 and 2014, with women accounting for 10.7 million finishers worldwide.”
Millennials are the current “target market of the month” for lifestyle brands such as CrossFit because their numbers are so large. They have also been around long enough have an impact on both large and small businesses, and while they tend to drive their employers nuts, they are beginning to have greater earning capacity making them even more important for growing brands.
Getting the attention and retaining the loyalty of millennials for a CrossFit box is challenging, but well worth the effort. It starts with having an authentic, competitive experience in each session and a high profile social media presence. Because this group is so social, word of mouth might very well be the best advertising medium.