Image credits: Mohamed Hassan
News Article

Proactive Marketing in Times of Crisis

By Alessa Flores | Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:58

The arrival of COVID-19 brought a series of challenges for society. Countries are preparing and fighting against the health impacts of COVID-19, which threatens to saturate their resources and health infrastructure. On the other hand, countries are looking for ways to mitigate the impact of quarantines, which could have an irremediably negative impact on their economy. According to the World Economic Forum, the COVID-19 shock is comparable to the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008. 

In these times of crisis, it is even more important to be creative and take the time to read the reality that surrounds us. Albert Einstein, one of the most important and recognized scientists of the 20th century, said that "in moments of crisis is when inventiveness, discoveries and great strategies are born. Whoever overcomes the crisis overcomes himself, without being overcome." The survival of businesses like events’ organizers, gyms and all these activities that rely on people gatherings and that will be the last to reopen will need to implement their best strategies to overcome themselves and not be overcome by the crisis. 

According to the academic journal Marketing in Periods of Crisis: The Influence of Proactive Marketing on Business Performance, "betting on proactive marketing allows maintaining the competitive advantage and value of the company during the crisis." Therefore, having a strong relationship between proactive marketing and performance, "is the key to support the importance of making marketing investments in times of crisis to reaffirm an effective response for companies and avoid the usual business practices." This means that, in exceptional moments, exceptional measures are required.

For example, there are several chains of Smart Fit gyms, Sports World, Sport City, Siclo, Anytime and others that for years have competed in the wellness market to be the leader. Although the vast majority of gym chains tend to quadruple their demand for registrations during January, it is also a reality that between 60-70 percent of users drop out in the first three or four months after registering due to lack of time, tiredness at work or lack of money, according to INEGI figures. While in times of quarantine, the most convenient response for gyms would be to close their doors and plan to return to operations once quarantine is over, it is not the only option. 

Sports World has extensively invested in a digital reconversion of its business model. It launched its #SWEnTuCasa (SW at Home) initiative, posting live workouts through Facebook Live and workouts through its app for free and available for everyone. The company announced that in the face of the situation, as an act of solidarity with its members, it would not charge them for the months the gyms remain closed due to quarantine. For all members who have paid an annual fee, they will be compensated with the same number of free months on their next enrolment. By not charging clients during these months, Sports World is avoiding the cancellation of contracts, which in the long term could compromise the chain's finances. Meanwhile, through its virtual classes, Sports World seeks to invest in being in the state of mind of current and potential clients, breaking down physical barriers and making members feel part of Sports World while still at home while attracting customers who were hesitant about which gym chain option to choose.

At first glance, comments of users on Facebook show that the strategy is working. Users thank Sports World for "making them feel like they are still at the gym" and for "providing a healthy, stress-free space." Other user comments mention "being disappointed regarding their current gym" and are asking for registration and monthly fees. There are even comments where users thank Sports World for "having varied activities for all ages." 

Various aspects of marketing change due to crises, forcing companies to understand the new environment, especially in aspects like consumer expectations and preferences and the evolution of competition, according to the academic journal. Therefore, companies that emerge victorious from this crisis will be those that know how to recognize the conditions of the situation and invest in new marketing to benefit from emerging opportunities.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Sports World, World Economic Forum, Britannica, Marketing in Periods of Crisis: The Influence of Proactive Marketing on Business Performance journal
Photo by:   Mohamed Hassan
Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst