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 the “Key facts of the German fitness industry 2022”.
ludwig esteban (Master of Business Administration, MSc Sport Management) is a partner of Deloitte GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft and heads the Sport Business Group.
christian butt (M. Sc. Accounting & Finance Management, CEMS Master in International Management) works at Deloitte GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in the Sport Business Group.
fM: Mr. Ludwig, you accompany the compilation of the “key data of the German fitness industry” for Deloitte for many years in a position of responsibility. How do you classify the results?of this year’s survey after two years of Corona?
Stephen Ludwig: As in 2020, the German fitness industry was also heavily influenced by the pandemic in 2021. Due to the temporary closures, the industry once again had to deal with significant drops in terms of sales and members.
At seven to eight months, including the important months at the beginning of 2021, the second closure of fitness facilities in Germany lasted longer than in many other countries in a European comparison.
In the UK, studios were allowed to reopen from spring 2021, while populations in Spain or Finland were not imposed a second nationwide lockdown period.
Compared to other countries, the number of terminations in the German fitness market was significantly lower than would have been expected with such a long lockdown.
This is partly due to the fact that long-term membership contracts of more than twelve or even 24 months are widespread in Germany.
As in 2020, many members also acted in solidarity, with some continuing to pay membership fees throughout the lockdown period.
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With the overall slight decrease in the total number of systems by 0.5 percent, emphasis should be placed on the chain segment, which was the only one of the three operating structures (individual, chain, and micro-studios) to expand the stock of systems. in 58 systems in 2021. .
The discount segment, which continued with its expansion policy despite the pandemic, was the main driver of growth.
This is due in particular to underlying trends in the industry, such as the rise in health awareness.
fM: What challenges and what opportunities emerge from the results of this year’s survey?
Christian butt: The results of our study clearly show that recovering “lost” members and returning to the growth of previous years are the two key challenges for the industry.
This is not an easy task, especially due to the pandemic, alternative offers in the outdoor fitness area or digital fitness options have become more important.
During the pandemic, many customers have increased their need for flexibility. To better meet this need, operators have significantly expanded their service portfolio and have optimized existing concepts or developed new ones.
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These include digital offerings, shorter-term contracts, outdoor options, or even diversification into the sale of home fitness equipment, which can be seen with some operators in Europe.
The 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. Consequently, the pandemic is above all an accelerator of already existing trends.
In addition to increased health awareness and the need for flexibility, the pandemic has shown the stationary fitness industry’s clear advantages over alternative offerings: the tremendous value of personal care, high-quality gear and equipment, as well like social interaction.
For this reason, many industry participants expect a return to membership growth in a relatively timely manner, as was seen before the pandemic and is already emerging in some European countries.