I’m a child of the 80s. Oh, yes. I still have fond memories of neon tights, step aerobics and the Richard Simmons empire. Although these trends were tragic in their own rite, these companies and self-made fitness experts were on to something. Health and wellness transformed from an intangible concept to an idea that can be seen and recognized.
The same is true thirty years later for this new generation of wellness fanatics. Companies are realizing the financial advantages in creating a brand image specific to a particular segment and pursuing their own sought-after audiences. Forget reaching the masses. Reach the niche.
In recent years, ING, a financial institution with Dutch roots, has put their stake in the ground for owning marathons across the U.S. For them, finding their niche was more about finding their return on objective or ROO. In a recent issue of Advertising Age, Ann Glover, chief marketing officer noted, that it’s not about the financial return, but rather the increase of brand recognition, trust, interest in doing business with the company and the chance that this particular audience will recommend their products and services to others. The company started sponsoring races in 2003 and now sponsors the largest marathon in the United States, the ING New York City Marathon with more than 43,660 finishing marathoners in 2009. What does running have to do with finances? Simple. Those interested in retirement, like runners, must plan for the future of their wealth and their health. ING has realized that although runners are not the most obvious niche to target, there’s a commonality between the products and services they offer and the personality traits (and pockets) of runners.
But there’s other companies taking notice of how identifying their wellness niche can help grow their business. The Westin recently launched a program to help guests make their fitness regime more convenient with its “gear-lending program”. Research has shown that the average American exercises even less when traveling than when at home. However, research also showed the main reason travelers didn’t exercise away from home was because they didn’t have enough luggage space. Westin guests have access to workout clothing and shoes while on the road. The real winner? New Balance, which has partnered with the Westin to carry out the program. A poll of guests who participated in the pilot found that 54% of them didn’t currently use New Balance products. Westin accommodates the needs of their guests while New Balance encourages trial. Win-win.
How can other companies find their wellness niche?
What’s your return on (fill in the blank)?
Niche marketing is so much more than return on investment (money). If it’s all about the dollar signs, then maybe niche marketing isn’t the way to go. But if you want to build awareness, really get to know your consumer and build trust, niche marketing should be part of your overall marketing campaign.
Going after a particular ethnicity or gender is so 1990s. Rather find out what interests your current and prospective customers. Are they runners? Yogis? Or do they enjoy spending their free time at the spa? Wherever they are is where you need to be, but be strategic in identifying them. It’s important that it makes sense for you and for them.
Create a campaign just for them.
If there’s one thing that can foil your wellness niche campaign, it’s not being sincere. Based on research by the Hartman Group, consumers will increasingly rely on authenticity to determine value. Be sure that your campaign is just for your targeted demographic. Otherwise, they’ll see right through you.
Health and wellness fanatics are some of the most loyal consumers in the marketplace. What will you do to keep them healthy in 2011?