DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SCRIPTING MAKEOVER OF INDIAN FITNESS INDUSTRY

The Indian fitness industry has grown steadily over the last couple of years. Several studies of the Indian retail fitness services market estimated that there are approximately six million active users in the country. These users are spending in the range of $350 to $400 on fitness services annually, making this industry a $2.6 billion market.

However, the scenario was different until a few years ago. The fitness industry in India was unorganized and fragmented, with access to top-of-the-line fitness offerings mostly restricted to urban areas. In addition to this, many of these services were heavy on the pocket, especially for the Indian middle-class.

This began changing considerably when the fitness industry embraced technology. A clear push towards digital transformation is visible towards making fitness more accessible, affordable and personalized. Entry of organized players in the market, rapid urbanization, deep smartphone and internet penetration, and high disposable incomes have given further impetus to digital adoption in Indian fitness industry.

Pandemic-induced rapid digital adoption

While the fitness industry was inching towards digital adoption, the pace was rather sluggish. However, everything changed with the pandemic and nationwide lockdown. Temporary closing of gyms disrupted the liquidity of many fitness businesses in India, making it imperative for them to accelerate digital transition. Many gyms and fitness studio chains, which were largely physical and on-ground centres, took their entire gamut of services online.

This was not only a necessity to stay relevant but also to survive. Virtual workout sessions, nutrition consultations and personal trainings, among others became the new normal. To top it, people are increasingly becoming comfortable with working out within the comfort of their homes.

Wearables and apps on the move

Technology has permeated the fitness industry in many ways. One of them is wearables. The Indian wearable market registered 11.8 million units shipment in 3Q20, clocking 165.1% year-over-year (YoY) growth, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. For many, wearables are the intersection between fitness and technology.

In reality, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The active role of gadgets in fitness is diminishing the boundaries of gym and workouts at home. These devices count steps, heart rate and calories burnt, enabling fitness beginners and professionals to track and access health-related data.

Similarly, demand for AI-powered health, nutrition, and fitness apps have increased substantially. Fitness app downloads have seen a 45% surge globally and 10% on consumer spends between March 22-28. As per a report, the app revenue is estimated to grow $727 million by 2024. With technology, fitness offerings are becoming easily accessible to a larger consumer base at their fingertips.

Millennials drive health and fitness consumption

Today, more and more people are becoming proactive, rather than reactive, about their health. In fact, owing to the physical and psychological implications of COVID-19, the importance of overall well-being has grown manifold. This trend is more prominent amongst the millennial population.

A report by Deloitte India and Retailers Association of India states that at 426 million, India has the largest millennial population in the world. They form at least 50% of the Indian workforce and are considered the drivers of consumer market.

Further, millennials are the most health-conscious people in India and spend a sizeable amount of their time on digital platforms. Availability of digital health and fitness services accelerates their consumption amongst millennials.

Strong Social Communities

With social media, the way fitness industry interacts with its audience is also changing. Developing strong social communities is making a difference for fitness players. These communities bring together like-minded individuals or fitness enthusiasts who help, encourage and motivate one another in their fitness journey.

Such communities allow fitness brands to become thought leaders by educating the members and enabling them to share this knowledge with others. Often, these members end up becoming an extension of the brand and attracting new customers.

For instance, Fittr is a community-driven online platform that helps people achieve their fitness goals. Today, it has built a strong social community of over 850,000 members, with many of them becoming Fittr’s customers with zero customer acquisition costs.

New Business Models

The new normal has pushed the boundaries of fitness industry. It expected that new business models will emerge, which is likely to be an amalgamation of physical and digital offerings. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global online fitness market size was valued at $6,046 million in 2019 and is projected to reach $59,231 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 33.1% from 2020 to 2027.

The report mentions that Asia-Pacific region is expected to experience the highest growth rate. Additionally, the health and wellness apps offering on-demand fitness classes and live streaming are considered to be a cost-effective solution.

Technology has indeed become a facilitator for the fitness industry. It enables it to offer tailor-made solutions, enhancing the overall customer experience and satisfaction.

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