As an industry we can’t afford to ignore boutiques – 42% of the 54 million members of health and fitness facilities in the United States use fitness boutiques according to IHRSA’s 2015 Club Intel report, and they now have 21% total market share of the $22 billion dollar US fitness market (and climbing)1.
But by taking a closer look at what cycling studios like Flywheel do well, multi-activity studios can start to take them on at their own game – without descending into a war on price.
So why are cycling boutiques having such success and what do they do differently to most in-club cycling studios? After all, a cycling class is still a cycling class, right?
Top seven things the boutique business model gets right:
They do one thing, they do it well and they do it with passion. In return, they’re rewarded with the loyalty of millennials – those 18-34-year-old customers who are looking for authentic experiences, and want to share them with their friends.
2. Flexible pricing
Millennials value flexibility, and the boutique pricing model is very flexible. They charge a premium but there is no commitment, which also forces a focus on operation excellence, and an obsession with customer experience. For boutiques, every single customers visit has to be a great one if they want to see them again. As a result, the mindset is different – they are not in the business of selling membership, but in the business of creating a world-class experience for every customer, every single time.
They take the time to build a strong cycling brand. Flywheel has created a powerful brand identity and story that makes it easy to recognize, and they bring it to life through absolutely everything they do.
SoulCycle goes even further: elevating their customer experience into a lifestyle bordering on the religious2. By making a big deal of what they believe fitness should be and of the way they started, they ensure that customers and fans will feel like they’re part of something authentic.
4. Premium end-to-end experience
Cycling boutiques have mastered the art of creating environments so emotionally and socially engaging that customers want to be there.
Every aspect of the customer experience is deliberate: from the well-scented reception area, to the impeccably maintained studio and generously stocked changing rooms, these guys think of everything. Customers don’t even have to bring their own cycling shoes, water, or shower towels – they just have to turn up and ride!
5. Disruptive marketing
Millennials are digital natives and boutique studios know this. They use social media to keep customers engaged from the very first visit and for follow-up communications and promotion of special events that motivate people to come back for more.
6. Online booking and payment system
Boutiques’ online book-and-pay systems enable customers to select a class and bike, choose their instructor and access a detailed profile – even viewing the tracks they used recently. And of course, they can pay without any hassle, and they can do it all from mobile devices.
7. Motivating instructors
Boutiques invest serious effort and resources in building a team of highly motivating instructors – starting with recruitment when they select only those with the best brand-fit profiles, and continuing with training, which can take up to 10 weeks.
And the boutiques’ biggest point of difference when it comes to instructors? They pay them very well!