There’s been a lot of buzz around dynamic pricing and the fitness industry lately, and rightfully so. Dynamic pricing presents an amazing opportunity for studio owners to price more effectively in order to drive more bookings and increase their bottom line. While we’ve seen a number of industries adopt varying dynamic pricing models, fitness is uniquely positioned to benefit from a demand-based pricing structure for a few different reasons:
1. No two classes are the same
Studio owners know that demand is not so clear-cut as “peak” versus “offpeak.” Fill rates can be affected by class format, instructor, and seasonality, and can vary from location to location. It's likely that certain classes on your schedule repeatedly hit capacity, while others hover around half-full.
Adapting pricing to the class is intuitive not just for you, but to your customers as well. Moving away from static drop-ins, and instead tailoring price to something measurable like demand, establishes more trust and transparency with those customers.
2. Static pricing models are limiting
The existing model of drop-ins, packages and memberships feels passive; after setting the strategy, studio owners have to sit back and wait to see what "sticks." The categories aren't adaptive, so the only way to improve them is to add more options, flash sales, or third-party partnerships. The end result is a lot of moving pieces, without a clear indication of what's driving growth.
3. Customers are price sensitive, and demand is elastic
While you may not have a choice about flying to your parents’ house for Thanksgiving, you don’t have to go to your evening spin class. There is a lot of room to experiment with pricing ranges in order to find the price at which customers are willing to book an additional class. We’ve heard studio owners describe their pricing strategy as feeling like they are holding a finger to the wind; using a demand-based pricing system makes this a more exact process.
4. Churn is high, so growing a loyal customer base is hard
The boutique fitness industry is booming, with the customer base rapidly expanding in recent years. That being said, packages and memberships aren’t working for studios the way they used to. Studios are having difficulty converting customers after their first few visits, and this “revolving door” puts immense pressure on customer acquisition. Dynamic pricing provides customers with value without asking them to book more than one class at a time. This is more attractive to customers than the old model of packages, which only offered customers value if they put a lot of money down upfront.
5. Blanket discounts and sales are starting to erode brands
Naturally, people who visit fitness studios are patrons of many different businesses, and that means they receive a lot of emails. When studios send emails announcing a sale, that email is easily lost among other discount alerts from J.Crew, Pottery Barn, Gilt, Sephora, etc. It can be hard to be heard above the noise. What’s worse, studios may be cannibalizing their existing customers with these emails; as a customer, if I have reason to believe the studio may be offering a discounted package soon, I am more likely to wait for that sale than to purchase in the meantime. In the time that I’m waiting, I could be developing other habits.
Dynamic pricing has the potential to help studios move away from blanket discounts and make them more tailored to the specific class and individual.
Given these potential benefits, the market for dynamic pricing is growing quickly. However, that term is quite broad, and encompasses a wide range of solutions. Check out this article for two key questions to keep in mind as you navigate the options.