A big strategic challenge for any business is recognising shifts in the external environment which may represent threats or opportunities to existing sources of income.
I noticed a splendid example of responding to demographic change at my local gym this week.
In Melbourne’s inner suburbs there has been a mini baby-boom over the last couple of years. Coupled with the increased cost of housing pushing out the student/early 20s population, businesses such as gyms faced a slightly different mix of potential customers.
Female patrons have been the target of yoga and other Les Mills classes for a few years now. But these don’t specifically cater to the growing expectant mums market.
So, the strategic innovation is to run ‘Preggi Bellies‘ classes. It certainly turned heads to see twenty or more heavily pregnant women milling around before their class. Some of them were regular gym patrons. Others, I suspect, are new customers, who may well hang around for the post-natal ‘Back to Body‘ classes. Rather than lose business from pregnancy, the gym may well be boosting its revenue.
A bit of research reveals both courses are franchised product available to all gyms. Nevertheless, it is still an example of a firm responding proactively and ensuring a threat (of declining patronage) is turned into an opportunity.