In Fitness and Marketing, There's No Such Thing as 'One Size Fits All"

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.   

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


The Evangelists - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks.

 

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