Marketing to Four Generations

Marketing to Four Generations
By Erin Phelan

By Erin Phelan

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

A packed Zoom house, a Boomer and a Millennial, riffing on marketing to your gym.


What a better way to spend a Friday afternoon!


Fitness Industry Council of Canada, the non-for-profit association and voice of the Canadian fitness industry, launched their brand-new monthly webinar series on Friday, September 15th with the highly anticipated “4 GEN by 2 GEN”: Marketing your gym to four generations and FitBizWeekly was not only there, but we were taking notes at a furious pace! Here are some of the key takeaways, and the amazing ideas that Sal and Sarah Pellegrino, a father-daughter duo, brought to the table:


Sarah and Sal Pellegrino 

This jam-packed session focused on Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers.


Discover their priorities

Each generation has a very different reason to be in your gym, and you need to discover what that is and then speak to them through marketing materials. “For Generation Z, mental health is top of their mind,” said Sarah Pellegrino. “We know from the data that 34% of young adults aged 18-25 have a mental illness. They are using the gym to manage stress, to help with their mental health.” Millennials are struggling to find work-life balance and are often racing to and from the gym and kid pick-ups and drop offs. Generation X is focused on maintaining or improving their physical health ‘the come to Jesus’ time of their life, and Boomers want to preserve their health.


Generation Z and Millennials

According to Murphy Research, the US data firm upon which the Pellegrino’s based their presentation, 68% of millennials are engaged with fitness – and use fitness apps weekly. “If your gym doesn’t have an app, and this is your market, you need to focus on that,” said Sarah Pellegrino. This is also the generation that embraced ‘boutique fitness’ and is often balancing kids and prioritizing work that affords a flexible work from home lifestyle, which includes competing with home workouts they have adopted. “The key for millennials is they will spend a lot of money on fitness, wellness and experiences. You have to keep them engaged with experiences – both in-person and digitally.” Generation Z is the social media generation, and they will do anything for a picture! Consider setting up areas of your gym for selfies. “Generation Z will advertise your space for you!” Your marketing should focus on your programming – whether it is offering CrossFit style competitions or taking group fitness into unique settings.


Generation X and Boomers

The first cohort to truly return to the gym post COVID was surprisingly, Active Agers, says Sal Pellegrino. “They take their health and wellness seriously and they want community and connection.”  Boomers are interested in recovery and wellness as add-ons to their gym experience, and consider marketing such as ‘Forever Fit’, or offering more social experiences, such as tea or coffee after a group workout. Boomers are also the cohort that will spend on personal training, says Sal Pellegrino. “In one study, 80% of personal training revenue came from Gen X and Boomers. The Boomers will be loyal, so long as they feel seen and heard.”


Win with each generation

The biggest takeaway from the marketing webinar was learning how to win with each generation: Create spaces and experiences that will cater to their needs, make sure your marketing methods are streamlined from the first touch point through to their experience signing up for a class. “Do NOT call a millennial unless they left their kid at the daycare,” says Sarah Pellegrino, “and focus on why they are using your gym. Generation Z are there for their mental health, and think about the busy working mom Millennial – what do they need from you?”


Testimonials with heart

Your current members are the key to attracting your new members. We know Sal Pellegrino pointed to Gold’s Gym Newburgh’s social media strategy showing members whose lives have been changed by their experience in the gym. For Boomers and Gen X, consider having more community engagement, through open house days and Bring-A-Friend for Free Campaigns. Integrate your gym into your own community – buy from and support local businesses, collaborate and form partnerships. “Millennials love community,” says Sarah Pellegrino. Use your personal trainers, capture moments in your classes, and keep reminding potential members that your gym will offer them exactly what they need.

If you would like to watch the full webinar, reach out to Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

Stay Connected!

Subscribe to FitBizWeekly’s FREE newsletter for news, commentary, idea sharing and developments across the Canadian health and fitness industry.

By clicking on the Subscribe button you agree to be on our newsletter list. You can opt out anytime. We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared and your email address will be stored safely.