Planet Fitness Quietly Grows Membership, Brand Loyalty

Last year was another solid one for Planet Fitness, which added 1.6 million new members, bringing total membership to 8.9 million.

Same-store sales systemwide rose nearly 11 percent during the fourth quarter, on top of a 6.2 percent increase the year before. Planet Fitness is quietly and steadily growing membership and, along with it, brand loyalty.
Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said during the company’s recent fourth-quarter earnings call that this was due to membership growth as an increasing number of consumers, including many first-time gym users, are joining Planet Fitness.

“While the Planet Fitness universe has expanded considerably in recent years, our 2016 performance added to our confidence that there’s still a long runway for future growth,” Rondeau said. “We are clearly growing the overall market by successfully targeting the approximately 80% of the population of the U.S. and Canada that currently does not go to a gym.”

In 2016, Planet Fitness spent more than $30 million on supporting national marketing campaigns that included running advertising nationally throughout the year that reinforces differences between Planet Fitness and stereotypical gyms.

“National advertising fund also allows us to participate in high profile brand building event highlighted by our second year as the lead sponsor of the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration,” Rondeau explained. “The timing of this global event is ideal for us with health and wellness top of mind of the consumers and reach is incredible over 175 million viewers in the U.S. and over 1 billion worldwide.”

With numerous store closing across the retail industry over the past few years and the ongoing shift to online shopping, putting added pressure on brick-and-mortar businesses, landlords and developers are increasingly looking to Planet Fitness as a key catalyst for their centers, Rondeau noted.

“We are confident this will be a long-term benefit for store performance,” he said.

Loyalty360 asked Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager for Baesman Insights & Marketing, for his thoughts on Planet Fitness and its customer engagement strategies.

“Through a combination of brand recognition and optimal market forces, Planet Fitness has been able to hit some huge milestones for the fitness industry,” Magliocca told Loyalty360. “It spent $30 million on a massive marketing campaign targeting new gym users and it has clearly paid off; 43 percent of its new members indicated they’ve never belonged to a gym, which is clearly a sign that Planet Fitness is striking a chord with acquired customers. It’s owning acquisition, compared to competitors such as L.A. Fitness or Lifetime Fitness. It’s also in the perfect market for finding prime locations. Almost every other retailer in the nation is either stagnant or closing stores, which leaves less competition and amazing spaces open for Planet Fitness to occupy across the country.” 

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