I’ll admit it – I’m a Nike guy. I have run several marathons and countless races in Nike sneakers since I first started running at the age of four with my Dad. My Dad was a runner and he wore Nikes. As I grew up and ran cross country in school and much longer distances later in life, I stuck with the brand. Sure, I experimented a little with Adidas and Saucony, but there was something about those other brands of sneakers that just didn’t work for me. If you’re a runner, you know that Nike is solidly in the lower middle tier of running shoes – they may cost a lot but technically, they’re not the best shoes out there for most runners. So, what was it about the brand that kept me loyal? I’m not sure. I just identified with the brand and to me they felt like the best fit.
Today fitness and exercise brands are much more a part of the mainstream consumer consciousness than ever before. America is struggling with a growing weight problem at the same time as shows like The Biggest Loser and Project Runway put an increasing emphasis on the body. We’re seeing stars like Marky Mark and Madonna showcasing flawless bodies at rather advanced ages, and we’re also seeing an increased objectification of men in the media – almost to the extent that women are objectified. All of these trends make it a perfect storm for exercise and fitness-related brands. They are selling the ultimate brand image – the idea that YOU can improve yourself; YOU can look like whatever you want. That is a powerful notion and that’s what people buy when they purchase a Nordic Trac, a pair of Reeboks, a membership to the Bay Club, or a season of Jenny Craig meals. But, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, only 3 in 10 adults get the recommended amount of physical activity and 37 percent of adults report they are not physically active.
How is the landscape shifting? Well, it’s shifting in a lot of ways. More brands than ever want a piece of the fitness/exercise/beauty pie. Apparel companies market a healthy lifestyle, which you really can’t get from wearing the clothes or shoes unless you apply yourself. Gyms sell the environment for getting healthy. Diet programs sell the guidance you need. Heck, even McDonalds is advertising healthier Happy Meals with apple slices and milk instead of fries and a soft drink.
The point of this post is actually a question – how much do you buy into the brands that are selling fitness? Have you made an exercise/fitness/wellness-focused purchase recently? What was it about the product you bought that appealed to you?