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New Year’s Resolutions and Gym Deals: A Catalyst for Changing Consumer Behavior

Marcelino Velasquez | March 18, 2024

Consumers kick-started the year by building more health-focused habits, with nearly a 5% increase in visits to gyms and grocery stores, while interest in less healthy options like convenience stores and fast-food chains dropped significantly.

Set the Stage

The beginning of the New Year has always been used as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes, usually for the better of the decision-maker. Whether it is related to health, finances, or personal aspirations, people change their behaviors for the sake of their New Year resolutions. It is this phenomenon that we wanted to investigate with our data, specifically in visitation to gyms. Gyms are notorious for offering great New Year signup deals at the beginning of January, and many sources agree it is the best time to get a cheap gym membership. Given consumers’ openness to change at the beginning of the year, we aimed to determine if this led to increased gym visits and altered visitor behavior at health-related categories like grocery stores, convenience stores, and fast-food chains. After all, self-improvement goals can include better eating habits.

Tell the Story

To gauge the effect on gyms and other categories, we looked at traffic in the month of January compared to a 3-month baseline. We saw that gym and grocery store visitation increased by nearly 5% and 4% respectively. Meanwhile, visitation to fast food restaurants and convenience stores decreased by nearly 10%. This indicates that consumers were not only thinking about starting new exercise routines but supporting that by making diet changes, such as cutting back on foods considered unhealthy. Regionally, the gym visitation changes were strongest in the Midwest and weakest in the West, but positive across the board.

Yearly goals were not the only thing driving customers through doors, as gyms typically offer membership deals during this time. These can include reduced membership fees, free trial periods, guest passes, or additional services like personal training sessions or nutrition consultations. Planet Fitness was one of the most vocal and generous gyms regarding their New Year offer, advertising a startup fee of $0.24 for the first two weeks of January. From our analysis, it seems to have paid off, as Planet Fitness saw the largest visit boost among other popular gyms in the USA that also saw visit boosts.

According to Fortune magazine, gyms did not see an increase in visits when compared to last January. While the article gives varying reasons, it is important to note this may reflect a return to normalcy post-Covid rather than disinterest in gym-related resolutions. During the baseline period we chose, September, October, and November, parents may have more free time because kids are back in school, college students are going back to dorms, and graduates are starting careers. People are also gradually visiting the gym less as the holiday periods approach. Essentially, it's important for gyms to understand the seasonality of gym membership signups as seasonal marketing can prove more impactful compared to marketing at any time of the year.

Product Information

PlaceIQ Movement

Develop smarter marketing strategies and drive real-world consumer actions by using PlaceIQ’s proprietary visitation data to analyze consumer movement, on your own terms.

The Insight & Actions

Each year, physical fitness continues to be a top resolution, and gyms take the opportunity to offer quality experiences for an affordable price to help consumers start their year the right way. From the multitude of options, gyms such as Planet Fitness tend to be the first choice for those looking for a new membership due to deals that include low initiation fees.

To reach relevant segments, marketers can activate PlaceIQ’s Recent or Frequent Gym-goer Audiences on the programmatic platform of their choice. And to take your analyses to the next level, marketers can leverage our location data & insights products to help detect behavioral shifts due to different events throughout the year.  To learn more read about our product PlaceIQ Movement.