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The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Pancho Dizon, this chapter is titled “In Fitness and Marketing, There's No Such Thing as 'One Size Fits All.” In it, Jap Angeles, the sia Regional Marketing Manager of Health and Fitness at Anytime Fitness, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in versatile marketing.
Jap Angeles on Being Your Own Brand
A proud alumnus of De La Salle’s College of Saint Benilde with a degree in Consular and Diplomatic Affairs, Jap Angeles never thought that she would end up in the ever-changing world of marketing and advertising. But that’s not to say that her undergraduate degree has not proved useful.
In fact, Angeles revealed that her background helps her in role as the Asia Regional Marketing Manager of health and fitness chain Anytime Fitness. Her responsibilities include understanding the brand’s markets in Asia―such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and most recently, Vietnam―and strategizing for the audience of each of them.
Along with her stints with various non-profits and public relations (PR) agencies in the past, her experiences so far proved crucial in making sure Anytime Fitness succeeded in Asia. Angeles shared that in one of the campaigns she’s most proud of, adjusting the brand’s messaging to stay effective in various countries was actually a challenge. “At Anytime Fitness, we operate in a franchise system business model,” Angeles explained. “So we actually had two choices: we could follow our headquarters and just copy their strategy, or we could create our own brand identity.”
For the ASEAN market, Angeles and her team decided to go with the latter approach. They found that with ASEAN having a relatively much younger population, there was a need to introduce fitness and its importance first. “A big chunk of our target market is a population of people that does not consider working out as essential,” Angeles said. “So the first thing we had to do was to educate the market on how important fitness is and why it is a necessity in life and not just an add on.”
Thus, Angeles and her team embarked on a campaign highlighting the importance of fitness―something that other markets outside Asia didn’t need. Once it was then communicated effectively to Southeast Asians how much a regular fitness routine could benefit one’s health, this was where Anytime Fitness could come in―why their brand offered the best equipment, personnel, and overall experience.
These efforts also resulted in a new tagline: “You’re Welcome.” This went hand in hand with efforts to reintroduce the gym as an inviting, welcoming place that’s free of judgment―exactly the kind of messaging a hesitant potential customer needs to hear. David Mortensen, President and Co-Founder of Anytime Fitness, once said that “people have a fear of going to a gym for the first time. They feel embarrassed about the way they look.”
“We want it to be known that whether you’re a bodybuilder who’s been doing it for years or just someone looking to live a healthier life, there’s always a place for you here,” Angeles said.
Thus with all the countries and different audiences they were handling, she also saw the localization of their content as an important factor, which was why she made sure that there was at least a person or a team in every country to ensure that their content was relatable to their respective region. Communications for Indonesia, for example, may have to take into account the country’s majority Muslim population and tailor communication strategies accordingly. On the other hand, the communication strategy for Singapore may have to take into account the presence of expats and the proximity of the country to Malaysia. All of these are just a few ways doing communications is different everywhere.
“It had to be something that resonates for a certain age group, a certain cluster, it had to be more than just translation. It had to resonate with the people we were trying to reach,” Angeles explained.
This applies even within the Philippines itself. Angeles attributed it to the fact that the country has three major islands, each with their own distinct culture. What may work for Luzon then isn’t an immediate success for Visayas and Mindanao.
To really localize their approach, what they did was to hold a mix of smaller pocket events targeting specific communities and bigger events with a wider audience. These were put together using various platforms and mediums most relevant to each region. For Mindanao and Visayas, this meant getting the word out about events through traditional channels like print and radio while word was spread through social media in Luzon. The importance of fitness as a message then also needed to change according to the capabilities of these mediums: with radio, for instance, it may pay to use a catchy jingle.
The strategy of localizing and catering to different audiences also led to one of the biggest events that the Anytime Fitness Asia brand has ever managed. This was ‘‘The Battle of the Purple Warriors,” where members and staff from Anytime Fitness from all over the country competed against each other in a series of fitness challenges. It was the first event in the whole Asia made to engage both members and non-members across all the different regions, which also led to the brand’s exponential growth and popularity in the country.
‘‘The Battle of the Purple Warriors” killed two birds with one stone: not only was it an amazing way to attract leads and franchisees, but new members as well.
“It just goes to show that when you go out of your way to calibrate your marketing approach and show how much you want to understand them, it pays off in the long run,” Angeles said. “It doesn’t just take years of marketing experience to understand that, it also takes guts to make it happen.”
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Jap Angeles, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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