Brands that are all about health and fitness have a great opportunity to make a contribution and do good in the world. Given that they can improve profits at the same time why aren’t they taking this path? What steps can brands take so that they both contribute and prosper?
Fitness is bigger business now than ever before. Gym membership, in the UK, has increased approximately 4% year on year from 2015 to 2018. The UK industry is worth a staggering £4.9bn (according to The 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report). That is an increase of £0.6bn since 2015, and with that growth likely to increase in the coming years of data driven health and fitness, it’s the industry to be in.
Fitness apparel, for example, is no longer just about the big names; small boutique brands are appearing – each with their own unique take on what looks and feels good in the gym.. Beyond style, functionality and quality (which should be givens for every brand) – what is there to help a consumer choose one over the other? The answer lies in choosing to prioritise social responsibility in your brand.
The fitness industry has traditionally had strong links with charity; for example, the Virgin Money London Marathon is the world’s largest one-day fundraising event. Over 75 per cent of the 40,000+ runners who participated in 2018 raised money for charity.
In UK every year there are approximately 807,000 running events. There are 100,000 members of British Cycling and over 140,000 active triathletes running, swimming and cycling. So, with such large numbers of keen people willing to push their limits in the name of doing good, why, are the fitness brands not living up to this generous giving mentality?
The answer is, of course, profit. They are there to make money. And that’s exactly where they are missing the point; doing good is also good for your bottom line.
Here are just a few profitable companies, in a variety of sectors, having a huge impact on world:
- TOMS – For every pair of TOMS shoes brought, they provide a pair of shoes to someone in need
- SMILE SQUARED – For every wooden toothbrush sold, Smile2 provide a toothbrush to someone in need worldwide
- S’WELL – Providing sustainable water bottles and coolers that support UNICEFs water projects
- ASUNO – Providing premium quality fitness and yoga clothing that supports charitable actions with every purchase
- VITAE LONDON – Each watch purchased supplies a child with two sets of a school uniform, a bag and footwear to see them through the year in Africa
- SOAPBOX – A one-for-one model donating soap bars for good health and sanitation with every product purchased
- FIGS – Provide medical scrubs and other clothing, whilst donating thousands of scrubs to medical projects around the world
These companies demonstrate that doing good is good for business. And since so many fitness fans are also keen charity fundraisers it makes perfect economic sense to combine the two.
New and existing fitness brands can approach this in a variety of ways – whatever suits your business model, internal resources, and target market best:
- Donate a percentage of your profits. Every penny helps when it comes to charity, and if you are rocking a healthy turnover then even 1% will make a huge impact.
- Sponsor events. Becoming a corporate sponsor for an event is not only a huge help to the charity, it provides your company with a great advertising opportunity.
- Empower your employees. Support and sponsor employee fundraising days, put on an event, get your employees family and friends involved. Target your employees that are most passionate at volunteering.
- Buy one, give one. Adopt this into your business model. Do you have a product that could help others? Support a cause that compliments your product and donate one for one.
- Partner with a charity. Support a charity directly with co-branding and awareness campaigns; keep your profits but co-advertise to bring more awareness for your charity partner. Make it easy for your customers to donate, promote the charity on your website, social media and in your newsletters.
- Develop your story. Customers want to know the story, envelope themselves in the cause and believe that your company is seriously in it to do good, build your brand story to tell them.
All of these options not only help those in need but will also boost your brand’s social responsibility.
As the 2018 State Of The UK Fitness Industry Report confirms 1 in every 7 people attends a gym or fitness class. That’s 9.9m people buying fitness clothing and huge potential for the fitness community to make money and change millions of lives across the world at the same time.
Consider the numbers; assume the average gym outfit costs £30, and 9.9m people purchase one outfit a year that means £297m spent on fitness apparel every year. This shows that; a) if brands donate 1% of total sale prices, it frees up £2.97m for projects every year, and b) if that small donation enables you to grab another 1% market share, it would make a massive difference to your bottom line.
If you are planning to build your health and fitness brand and develop a profitable business, looks at opportunities to contribute to charity. You’ll do good, your business will thrive and your increasing customer base will feel good about contributing too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Moreland is co-founder of Asuno, a Manchester-based fitness and yoga clothing brand passionate about making an impact on the world. Using the city as inspiration, the team design beautiful, premium quality, functional fitness clothing that saves lives. Every item in the range is linked to an individual charity and each purchase provides a specific action from alleviating hunger to providing access to water and helping children build an identity.
Indiegogo Community Crowdfunding: https://bit.ly/2FDtqNb
2018 Virgin Money London Marathon: The Runners’ Stories – https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com
2016 – More people are taking part in endurance sport than ever before – https://www.sports-insight.co.uk/trends-features/