The Corona pandemic has increased the need for flexibility among customers. A combination of training in the gym, at home and outdoors is in high demand. Stefan Ludwig and Christian Rump (Deloitte GmbH) talk about other trends that can be observed in Germany and Europe in an interview on “key data for the German fitness industry 2022”.
Stephen Ludwig (Master of Business Administration, MSc Sport Management) is a partner at Deloitte GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft and heads the Sport Business Group.
Christian Rump (M. Sc. Accounting & Finance Management, CEMS Master in International Management) works at Deloitte GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in Sport Business Group.
fM: Hr. Ludwig, you are accompanying the collection of “key data from it German fitness industry ”for Deloitte for many years in a responsible position. How do you rank the resultsof this year’s study after two years of Corona?
Stephen Ludwig: As in 2020, the German fitness industry was also strongly affected by the pandemic in 2021. Due to the temporary closures, the industry again had to cope with significant declines in terms of sales and members.
After seven to eight months, including the important months in early 2021, the second shutdown of fitness facilities in Germany lasted longer than in many other countries in a European comparison.
In the UK, studies were allowed to reopen as early as the spring of 2021, while populations in Spain or Finland were not imposed another nationwide lockdown period.
Compared to other countries, the number of redundancies in the German fitness market was significantly lower than one would have expected with such a long lockdown.
This is partly due to the fact that long-term membership contracts over twelve or even 24 months are widespread in Germany.
As in 2020, many members have also acted in solidarity, and some continued to pay dues throughout the closing period.
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With the overall small decrease in the total number of systems of 0.5 percent, the chain segment should be highlighted, which was the only one of the three operating structures – individual, chain and micro-studies – that expanded the system portfolio with 58 systems in 2021.
The rebate segment, which despite its pandemic continued its expansion policy, was primarily responsible for growth.
This is mainly due to the trends underlying the industry, such as increased health awareness.
fM: What challenges and what opportunities do the results of this year’s survey provide?
Christian Rump: Our survey results clearly show that the recovery of the “lost” members and a return to the growth of previous years are the two main challenges for the industry.
It is not an easy task, not least because of the pandemic, alternative offers in the outdoor fitness area or digital fitness options have come more into focus.
During the pandemic, many customers have increased their need for flexibility. To better meet this need, operators have significantly expanded their service portfolio and optimized existing concepts or developed new ones.
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These include i.a. digital offerings, contracts with shorter maturities, outdoor opportunities or even the diversification with sales of home fitness equipment, which can be observed at some operators in Europe.
Results of a consumer survey conducted by Deloitte together with EuropeActive earlier this year show that a large proportion of fitness enthusiasts combine different offers – in fitness facilities, at home and outdoors.
From a consumer perspective, the industry is better positioned than ever. Therefore, the pandemic is above all an accelerator of already existing trends.
In addition to the increased health awareness and need for flexibility, the pandemic has shown the clear benefits of the in-house fitness industry compared to alternative offerings: the enormous value of personal care, high-quality equipment and supplies, as well as social interaction.
For this reason, many industry participants expect a return to membership growth in a relatively timely manner, as was observed before the pandemic and is already emerging in some European countries.