4 Exciting Fitness Advertising Trends for 2024 and Beyond
Remember those late-night infomercials for the latest ab-roller or step board?
Or magazine ads with “before-and-after” photos of a person holding a measuring tape around their waist? Lose 20lbs in a day! Get a six-pack in two weeks!
Thankfully, those days seem to be behind us…
While there are still many “too-good-to-be-true” weight loss claims online, fitness ads have mostly changed for the better in recent years.
Most brands are moving toward a more authentic way of doing things.
One-way communication through TV or magazine ads doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, you should look to interact with your audience, answer questions, and even build communities around your products.
Fitness blogs and social media platforms played a large part in this, allowing you to build more ‘real’ relationships with your customers. But first you need to attract their attention, which is where fitness advertising comes in.
The New Normal – Health Consciousness
Since the pandemic, we’ve all started to look at life a bit differently. Balanced lifestyles are all the rage. Advertising reflects this change.
Long story short – it’s not just about looking great anymore. It’s about feeling great too.
You could say that the message has changed from:
“Transform yourself to fit into society”
“Transform yourself for you.”
The “feel-good” wave is making the fitness world explode. In terms of fitness equipment, for example, revenue was more than $9 billion in 2020, and with steady yearly growth rate, it’s on track to reach an astounding $14.4 billion by 2028.
Other fitness areas such as clothing, fitness clubs, wearable tech, and gym clubs all show similar growth patterns.
To help bag your slice of this pie (a low-calorie one of course), we’ve identified four main fitness advertising trends you can’t afford to ignore.
1. The Rise of Influencer Marketing
Influencers have become very influential (not a big surprise!) in fitness advertising.
Hearing someone else’s fitness journey gives people a little nudge – “Hey, if they can do it, so can I!”. You can cheer them on from your yoga mat in your living room!
Another interesting trend has emerged over the past few years – the rise of micro and nano-influencers. These are online influencers with a small, close-knit, and engaged following.
When a micro-influencer endorses your brand, they are promoting it to an audience that trusts them, which is very powerful advertising for fitness brands and products.
Fitness ad example #1: Alphalete
Alphalete is a rising star in the workout clothing world, founded by fitness guru Christian Guzman in 2015.
The brand has been successful in getting people to talk about it online. In just one year, between 2019 and 2020, the buzz around Alphalete grew by 53%, earning almost $30 million in what’s called Earned Media Value (EMV).
Alphalete’s secret? A super-loyal group of athletes and influencers who love the brand. These fans have done a lot to get the word out, accounting for 87% of all the online buzz about Alphalete.
They also spread their wings beyond just gym clothes. They launched a new fitness center called Alphaland, where influencers are free to film and make content.
It’s a genius move – they earn revenue from growing gym subscriptions while getting a ton of free advertising at the same time!
2. Data-Driven Campaigns
Data is shaping fitness advertising more than ever before.
The days of “get fit now” and even “just do it” are gone. People are inundated with content from all directions, so to truly stand out, you need to speak to them as individuals.
Let’s get personal: Hyper-personalization
Fitness advertisers are relying more and more on data to create and deliver hyper-personalized ads to targeted audiences. When individuals receive personalized ads, they feel like the brand knows them, which makes them relate to the brand more.
Here are some examples of data-driven hyper-personalized fitness advertising in practice:
- Dynamic content customization: Imagine an audience that regularly visits a particular website that provides tips about high-intensity interval training (HIIT). By leveraging user interest data and contextual advertising methods, you can adapt your strategy to serve ads for relevant fitness content or products when those audiences visit your site. In effect, you are catering in real-time to the fitness-related interests of audiences you tend to visit your site, and improving their digital experience with your business.
- Retargeting with context: Let’s say someone looked at a pair of running shoes on your website but didn’t buy them. A generic retargeting ad would just show them the same pair of shoes. Hyper-personalization takes it a step further by knowing why they looked at those shoes in the first place. Maybe they’ve been reading up on “how to prepare for a marathon”. In this case, the retargeting ad might include a message like “The perfect shoe for your first marathon. Ready to pass the finish line in style?”
- Email Campaigns: Blanket messages to all subscribers are out. Segmented, personalized messages are in. You can send emails based on past purchases, clicked links, and even how long someone’s been a customer. If someone bought dumbbells six months ago, they might receive an email about a weight bench that’s on sale. The email greets them by their first name and references their last purchase to build a sense of familiarity.
While there’s no denying the benefits of hyper-personalization, data privacy is a hot topic. It’s important to be ethical and compliant with relevant laws and regulations when dealing with user data.
AI and Machine Learning
Imagine if Netflix only recommended action movies to you when you’re a rom-com fan. Not a great experience, right? Instead, with the help of AI and machine learning, Netflix analyzes your viewing behaviors, preferences, and dislikes to serve you content that you’re more likely to watch.
The same technology can be used for fitness ads. If you’re into yoga, it’s unlikely you’ll want ads about weightlifting competitions. AI can help to analyze users’ data and automate content decisions for advertisers.
Unlike traditional banner ads, which tend to interrupt the user experience, native ads seamlessly blend into the platform they’re on. They look and feel like other content on the page, making the audience more receptive to interacting with them. Let’s see how native ads might work in the fitness world.
- Context is king: Say there’s an article on “10 Superfoods for Muscle Recovery” on a health blog. A native ad for a recipe for a protein shake could appear at the end of this article as a recommended read. As the audience is already reading about muscle recovery, they’re more likely to be interested in the content and click the ad link.
- Social media platforms: Instagram is full of fitness content, so native social ads work well there. Placing native ads for fitness products or content in the feed of users who are into fitness is a great way to subtly mention your brand and boost awareness.
- Fitness apps integration: Fitness apps are growing at a strong and steady rate. In 2023, there are an estimated 800 million fitness app users worldwide, expected to grow to over 1.2 billion users by 2028. Ads for fitness-related products or services integrated natively into fitness apps are a great way to reach users who are actively engaged in their own health and well-being. If someone is using a calorie counter app, for instance, a native ad for a low-calorie meal kit delivery service might go down well.
- Retargeting: If someone has recently visited your fitness-related site, but has not yet converted, then retargeting them with relevant ads on websites they visit regularly (such as news or entertainment sites) is a good way to remind them of your business and encourage them to re-engage.
- Customer journey mapping: Native ads can be tailored for different stages of the customer journey. For example, a beginner might see a native ad about a ‘Beginner’s Workout Kit,’ while an advanced gym-goer might see an ad for ‘Elite Weightlifting Gear.’
Imagine getting an ad for a new running shoe when you’ve just clocked in your 100th mile on your current pair. That’s pretty useful advertising for both the brand and consumer, right?
Wearables collect biometric data that can be used to create personalized ad experiences. If you’ve been crushing those cardio workouts, don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads for heart-rate monitors or high-energy supplements!
Fitness ad example #2: Rebel
Rebel is one of Australia’s leading sports retailers. Facing the need to drive quality website traffic and optimize CPC, Rebel turned to Outbrain. The native advertising campaigns focused on targeting health and fitness fans through premium publishers.
A 20% uptick in CTR and a 22% reduction in CPC. With 21,000 unique monthly visitors, Outbrain became Rebel’s preferred partner, showcasing the power of well-strategized native advertising.
3. Authenticity Is Everything
Authenticity is one of the strongest differentiators in today’s saturated fitness market. High-potential customers are wary of false promises (lose 20 lb in one week!), and naturally turn to brands that seem real, honest, and true to their stated values. After all, fitness is about breaking one’s boundaries, setting goals, and striving for self-improvement. Consumers will seek out and invest in fitness brands that reflect their own aspirations.
Emotional storytelling – Why it’s effective
Emotional storytelling doesn’t mean manipulating your audience. It’s about connecting with them on a deeper level.
Getting fit isn’t easy. It’s full of ups and downs. Telling stories of personal victories over adversity makes your audience feel seen and understood.
When you bring authentic transformation stories into the mix, you’re not just selling a product – you’re providing a solution to an emotional need. You can help to inspire confidence, create a sense of achievement, or build a community. Generating authentic feel-good emotions creates a lasting impact and builds brand loyalty.
The pitfalls of over-promising and under-delivering
While storytelling is a powerful tool, you need to keep it real. Be genuine and don’t over-promise and under-deliver, as this can severely damage your brand’s credibility.
It’s tempting to make your fitness product seem like a magic bullet to solve all problems. But if you don’t deliver on the promise, you lose more than just a single sale – you lose trust. In the age of digital connection, where everyone has a megaphone and soapbox, negative experiences are quickly amplified, putting off other potential customers.
Fitness ad example #3: Gymshark
Gymshark has grown to be one of the most well-known sports apparel brands in recent years. They used a potent mix of authentic stories and influencer marketing to achieve rapid and sustained growth.
Stephanie O’Neill, the Head of PR at Gymshark, says that the company’s initial ethos still guides all their planning. She states, “It’s all about being authentic. The vast majority of Gymshark ambassadors were once fans and consumers of the brand. Who better to represent the brand than those who actually love Gymshark?”
4. Diversity and Inclusion
Audiences are more diverse than ever, and they’re demanding representation that reflects this diversity.
Whether it’s race, gender, body type, age, or ability, there’s a growing call for inclusivity in fitness advertising. This isn’t just about “doing the right thing”; it’s also smart business.
When you diversify your advertising, you’re sending a clear message: “Our brand is for everyone.” This opens doors to markets you might have previously overlooked or underestimated. And it’s not just about casting diverse models – it’s also about tailoring your product offerings, messaging, and even the platforms you use to reach these various groups.
However, it also pays to be cautious. While diversity and inclusion are great, ad campaigns can easily go awry if not executed thoughtfully. Tokenism or hollow gestures can alienate the very audiences you’re trying to reach. That’s not to mention the damage it can do to your brand reputation. So, take the time to listen, research, and perhaps most importantly, engage with the communities you aim to serve.
Again, authenticity is key here. Your audience will be able to spot a half-baked effort from a mile away. Bottom line – if you’re not embracing diversity and inclusion, you’re missing out on a significant market opportunity and also risk being left behind, but make sure to approach it with caution and sensitivity.
Fitness ad example #4: Nike
Nike needs no introduction, and true to form, they’ve been quick to embrace diversity and inclusivity in their marketing.
Nike’s “Until We All Win” campaign is all about bringing people together. It shows how sports can make a difference in communities and features stories from diverse athletes and artists who inspire today’s youth.
During Pride Month, Nike’s “BeTrue” campaign celebrates athletes who are champions for LGBTQIA+ rights.
By embracing diversity, Nike wants to show that everyone should have a fair chance, no matter who they are or where they come from. And with Nike, it’s not just talk, they are taking action to better represent people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, genders, and body types.
Future Trends to Watch
- VR and AR (Augmented Reality): These technologies offer immersive fitness experiences. They can also be a great inclusion point in advertising, especially for targeting audiences with disabilities or mobility challenges who want accessible fitness solutions.
- Gamified fitness apps: Using features like points, badges, and leaderboards makes fitness apps more fun and engaging. These elements motivate users and add a sense of competition. Highlighting these features in ads can attract more people to the app.
- Holistic health approach: Instead of just emphasizing physical exercise, this trend aims for a balanced approach that includes emotional and mental well-being. Ads that talk about stress relief, mindfulness, and nutrition can really hit home for people seeking a more rounded approach to health and fitness.
- IoT-enabled fitness devices: Next-gen wearables offer more than just step-counting. They collect diverse data that helps create personalized workouts. Highlighting these advanced features in ads shows how exercise can be more effective and personalized.
- Biohacking: A growing trend in self-improvement, biohacking involves using technological interventions, including implants, to enhance human abilities. It can be an interesting way to show how far people are willing to go in the pursuit of optimal fitness.
- Metaverse wellness: The fitness industry is not just going digital – it’s stepping into the metaverse. Advertising your brand’s virtual presence can add a thrilling and modern layer to your marketing strategy, capturing the imagination of tech-savvy consumers.
Key Takeaways – Fitness Advertising Trends for 2024 and Beyond
Influencer marketing is here to stay
The power of influencer marketing, particularly micro and nano-influencers, cannot be overstated. People trust them, listen to them, and most importantly, buy what they recommend.
The power of data-driven personalization
Brands are now using all sorts of data and AI tools to make sure they catch your eye. It’s not just about throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. You need to know exactly what your audience wants to see and hear.
Authenticity and inclusivity matter
Gone are the days of ‘one-size-fits-all’ messaging. People want to see real stories and diverse faces. So if you’re a fitness brand looking to build a lasting relationship with your audience, keep it real and you won’t go too wrong.