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IHRSA EUROPE UPDATE Latin American market data • richard bilton • ihrsa board member, and president & director of companhia athletica (brazil)


which was generously sponsored by Hoist. T e report demonstrates that the Latin American market is robust, still growing, and has much room for improvement. T ere has always been much speculation


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about the exact market size of this region. We have heard confl icting reports: that market growth had stopped, or that it had in fact grown at 15 per cent a year. But solid data was always lacking – until now. T e 16 Latin American markets


analysed in the new IHRSA report generate US$5.5bn in revenue from more than 46,000 clubs. Nearly 15 million Latin Americans are health club members. Brazil alone accounts for more than half of the health clubs in Latin America, including the 16 clubs operated by my company, Companhia Athletica. All Latin American companies within


the sector have to live with the extremely strict state regulations that end up hindering the market. For instance, in Brazil, medical certifi cation attesting to a person’s suitability and fi tness for performing physical activity is mandatory before someone can use a health club. However, if the client does not present


n August, IHRSA published T e IHRSA Latin American Report: Size and Scope of Key Health Club Markets,


operating at three diff erent price levels: high, medium and low. Our clubs are included in the fi rst group, which require high investment to be built and target an affl uent audience. At the other end of the spectrum are the


low-cost gyms which, like the premium sector clubs, have more space for growth and eventually end up weakening the mid-priced gyms, which off er a reduced variety of services. In other words, those clubs which operate on the extreme ends of the spectrum have an advantage over those in the middle, which are aff ected by the polarised market dynamics. Our company – which currently


Nearly 15 million Latin Americans are health club members, with Brazil taking the lion’s share


such a certifi cate, the gym – not the client – is accountable before the law. Additionally, we face taxation burdens


which rank among the highest in the world. A simple example is that of employers’ contributions: generally, someone who makes R$1,000 in-hand costs a company R$2,000. Here, as abroad, the industry is


moving toward segmentation, with gyms Ask the experts...... Winning back former members


“We’re designing a mail-shot to send to former members to get them back on board before increasing dues in January. How can we best capture their attention and get them to rejoin?” Active Management owner Justin Tamsett off ers his insight on this topic:


“A former member only becomes a member again if they believe you can help them. You are starting off ahead of your competition (hopefully), provided they have had a positive experience with you, your people and your brand. “Your marketing piece absolutely


must convey new classes, people, hours, equipment, facilities, services and/or programmes – and not just a


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case, former members. If you have nothing new to off er them, why would they come back? “So hit them between the eyes


upfront – your headline should include words like ‘Announcing’ or ‘Look’ or ‘It has arrived’ and so on. T e copy can then give more details. “Finally, fi nish your marketing piece


with a call to action – and ensure that this call to action provides the alumni’s status, for example: ‘As a former member, you are entitled to…’ “As with all marketing, to increase


Tamsett: Off er relevant new news in marketing


list of them. You need to include how or why they benefi t members or, in this


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


conversion, follow up the marketing piece with a phone call.”


Read more answers to this question at www.ihrsa.org/industryleader


october 2012 © cybertrek 2012


operates only in Brazil – has been analysing opportunities in Chile, Argentina and even the US. If we were to make a move, we’d repeat what’s been most successful for us in the past – that is, opening a highly diff erentiated unit in a city where we’d be considered a reference point for the local market.


T e IHRSA Latin American Report covers the following markets: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela.


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