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RESEARCH ROUND-UP


Attention Retention T


DR PAUL BEDFORD, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, RETENTION GURU


he most recent research on UK health club member retention reveals a worrying decline in an


already unsatisfactory situation – namely the industry’s ability to retain members. The fi rst study of this type was carried


out as part of the FIA’s (now ukactive) Winning the Retention Battle series, conducted by Dr Melvyn Hillsdon back in 2002. At that time, from a sample of just over 70,000 members, 60 per cent retained membership for 12 months. In the subsequent national study in 2008, involving 293,000 members, 66 per cent had retained membership for 12 months.


Fig 1. Length of membership retention 100


90.0 80.0 70.0 60.0 50.0 40.0 30.0 20.0 10.0 0.0


Membership is dominated by the middle classes


64 Health Club Handbook 2014 But the latest fi gures have fallen back


down – and beyond. Based on 342,759 member records and covering the four- year period from 2009–2012, The National Retention Report (see information panel, p66) indicates that only 52 per cent of members are maintaining membership at their club for 12 months. Although comparing data from different


samples is not the most academic research approach, nevertheless the fi ndings allow us to draw some broad conclusions, as well as allowing us to identify some of the characteristics that defi ned the market then and now, helping us understand where the key changes have been taking place.


Scores on the doors Our report shows that 51.9 per cent of members retain membership for at least 12 months; 24.4 per cent are still there after 24 months; 14.1 per cent survive to 36 months; and only 10.4 per cent are members to 48 months (see Figure 1). Figure 2 gives an overview of retention


0 12 24 36 48 MONTHS SINCE JOINING


rates for specifi c periods of membership, providing a comparison of our 2013 report with the fi ndings from 2002 and 2008. You can see that at each period, the 2013 results are worse than previous


www.healthclubhandbook.com


Think retention was bad before? New quantitative research suggests the situation is now worse than ever


PROPORTION STILL MEMBERS


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