The pandemic has been a disaster for the whole fitness industry. A lot of fairly significant brands are getting ready to announce that they are closing worldwide. Where there is the risk, there is the chance to change the rules of industry. This is what’s happening right now in Chinese fitness market: Fitness clubs is going to reform themselves memberships, by accepting the monthly membership fee, to gain the chance to survive from this tough time.
Will’s, one of the top fitness brands in China, has made a big move that reform the whole fitness industry: applying the complete monthly renewal memberships fee. Will’s creates its own payment platform – Autopay, which make it available for members to pay 40USD to join the community, it supports all mainstream online payment methods, to make it easy to access to make the payment. Whereas the previous way of annually method remains available and the members who are first to Will’s will be asked to pay 2-month-fee deposit. The old way of Chinese memberships is charged by annually, this charging way bothers members so much that they have to pay for much money at once and many of them will quit during the train so the coaches could not make custom plans, and the training result is not as expected, and in return, this causes less trust for these fitness club.
Currently, all the fitness clubs in the US has developed their own mature membership policy for customers to get better service. For example, LA Fitness has considered to be the most successful health and fitness centre in Los Angeles, and it now has more the 600 clubs across the Unites States and Canada, They have flexible memberships at various prices rates, for monthly membership, you can choose from those 3 plans: Plan A is 29.95USD with initiation Fee: $99, plan B is 34.95USD with initiation Fee: $49, plan C is 39.95USD with zero initiation Fee. Over these years, the development path of the global fitness market, the membership renewal policy has became mature, making it easier for members who want to renewals whether it’s done annually, quarterly or monthly. Since the 1980s, the fitness market in the US implies the long-term card-pay method, to this credit-card payment method, whether for Planet fitness, or Equinox, credit card became the main payment way for members nationwide.
Will’s Fitness center tested their monthly memberships fee firstly in Shanghai China, in June 2020, and will be promoted nationwide in December, 2020, as well as some other fitness brands. Before that, Will’s announced that the member price will be open to everyone, and sold on third-part online stores, in expecting to reform the old sale mode. This big move, in some extends, fundamentally changes the current cash/card mode, which owns huge risks as well.
Obviously, Will’s has taken chances to switch the sales-oriented to service-oriented mode, by changing the underlying payment model. For these memberships, this renewal payment lower the accessibility for members by providing flexible service, transparent price. But for the whole industry, Will’s pay-by-month policy will bring huge pressure to other brands which are insist on annually renewals, so as to these small clubs with the same policy. Mr Dou, the Will’s COO, said:” Essentially, we’re going to transform the company management into a more refined & modern way. What this reform do to the Chinese fitness industry is just the same as USA and Europe. the payment from annually to monthly will forward the national fitness industry into a new level.”
Therefore, Will’s has put great effort on membership management, and would transform the company into a Internet community that focus customers’ experience. the pay-by-month management seems to be external signal that Will’s will rebuild the company, including the content, team, assessment value and more, for example, Will’s introduce the new membership management system, by creating the CDO(Chief Digital Officer) to promote digital reform of sales.
Over the last two decades in Chinese fitness industry, gyms is only access to some people but now the circumstance has changed, and more gyms has reformed to create custom services for different memberships, and this monthly memberships fee is absolutely the best way to start it. This epidemic has crashed national business of gyms that Will’s will face more pressure coming from the bed economic environment and its payment management. for the traditional gyms, under the great pressure of cash flow, this new memberships management makes it hard to push, and this is also the disaster for small gyms when these big brands join the game. And there is no doubt that 2020 will be the very beginning year that brings great changed into overseas fitness market.