Fitness influencers have infiltrated every aspect of social media–from workout videos to outfit inspirations–and their presence has impacted the way fitness brands engage with their audiences. By connecting to wider audiences across social media, health and wellness influencers are proven to be successful partners for brands trying to increase their reach and brand awareness. But how do they do it?
The History of the Online Fitness Industry
Before discussing how influencers fit into the exercise marketing world, it’s important to see the state of the industry itself. With the introduction of online media and social media, the fitness and athletics industries have undergone similar changes as other industries racing to embrace our new digital world.
Fitness and health have always had a market within people of all demographics. However, as consumers have gotten more tech-savvy, the ways that the fitness industry communicates with its audience have also changed.
While fitness used to focus on ”bikini body goals” or getting a sculpted pack of abs, more people are focusing on wellness and overall mindfulness in their routines. This shift in mindset reflects the new values of consumers, and in order for brands to connect with their audiences, they must explore the same topics or interests.
As more consumers request transparency and authenticity from brands and advertisers, the fitness industry must also embrace the same values in their future influencer marketing campaigns.
How Influencers Changed the Fitness Industry
The digital shift also affected the way that people consume their fitness routines. With schedules getting busier every year, more people are turning toward digital workouts to reach their fitness goals without missing a beat.
The exercise industry has integrated the use of YouTube workouts, fitness influencers on Instagram, and other online programs (or classes) that consumers can stream directly from their tablet, TV, computer or phone. The demand for instant access to exercise and wellness has changed how brands communicate with their audiences, and now focuses on having content available immediately–or with a subscription service.
Top fitness influencers have revolutionized how brands engage with their audiences through these methods. For example, they have daily or weekly motivations mixed with personalized workout routines that their audiences can follow along with.
This type of intimacy creates a more meaningful connection between the influencer and their audience, and when it comes to exercise–that close relationship is very important to following through on a routine. It’s easier for more people to commit to a certain task or activity when they have someone holding them accountable, especially when it comes to exercise.
Fitness influencers act as a guardian for people that need that extra motivation to pursue their general health, and fitness brands have taken notice.
The Relationship Between Fitness Brands and Fitness Influencers
With the rise of social media, fitness brands needed a way to connect with an increasingly digitized audience. Originally, fitness brands spread their awareness through word of mouth and through brick and mortar gyms or stores to increase their presence in new areas with new audiences. Since influencers have joined the industry, fitness brands are finding more value in the connections created by fitness influencers.
The fitness influencer industry is no joke. Right now, there are tons of influencers on social media that tote an incredible amount of followers–with the engagement to match. Using visual platforms to further their personal messages, fitness influencers are able to create an aspirational environment through their routines that continue to attract new followings. This is proven successful especially through brands like Lululemon.
Lululemon encourages users to join their affiliate program as ambassadors for the Lululemon brand, effectively making them members of the Lululemon Collective. By finding influencers that already share a passion for the Lululemon brand, they are able to create a network of partners that share the same values–resulting in more meaningful content that shares the message of the brand with a wider audience.
Brands such as the Girlfriend Collective and Nike follow similar trajectories and find fitness influencers that specialize in certain areas of interest–such as eco-consciousness, sustainability, body positivity, streetwear, etc.–and connect with them. The partnerships result in heightened awareness of the brands and carve out a niche for their influence to thrive.
This is especially true in the case of the Girlfriend Collective brand. Their company started off selling luxury-style leggings at discounted costs–primarily through online retailers. By partnering with environmentally conscious influencers and people that embraced or promoted body positivity, they were able to establish themselves as an eco-friendly brand that makes exercise clothing for all body types. This sets Girlfriend apart from the rest of the crowd and captures a demographic of people that are focused on wellness, the environment, and self-betterment.
What Does This Mean for Brands?
Where there are influencers, there is an opportunity for connection. Fitness brands are incorporating fitness influencers into their digital campaigns because of their relationships with larger audiences. Fitness influencers have large dedicated followings of people that trust their opinions and recommendations–especially when it comes to fitness–making them powerful tastemakers in the exercise industry.
Fitness brands are embracing this authenticity within the marketplace and partnering with influencers that share the same values and goals–resulting in more meaningful relationships that produce better engagements with their audiences. As more people are putting their trust into influencers, more fitness brands can find the audiences and interactions they’re looking for with the help of fitness influencers.
If the success of Peloton is any indication of what the future holds–the fitness industry is putting their trust in the online world and receiving positive results.