Why did Zumba Fitness® become so successful? According to Alberto Perlman, CEO and Co-Founder of the company, it was because, “We didn’t know the fitness industry.” Zumba® does not use the traditional business model or marketing approach. Competitors “charged the gyms $200/month for their programs. Zumba® focused on instructors’ success.”
Fitness used to be the objective—a painful objective. But the objective of Zumba® is to have fun; not to get fit. Many gyms show photos of fit people; Zumba® shows photos of happy faces.
All Zumba® marketing pushes people to attend live classes. Zumba® infomercials play 30-50 times a day and generate $30 mil/year selling DVDs. But the objective is not to sell DVDs. The DVDs have a message at the end to try a live class. In April and May, Zumba® has a promotion. For every person that checks into a 2 hour class, Zumba® will donate 750 calories. Zumba® publicizes instructor stories.
“Our employees believe Zumba® is changing the world – getting more people into fitness,” said Alberto Perlman. He added that the biggest mistake that he could make as CEO is to hire the wrong person.
Every Zumba® decision must meet these two criteria:
Does it make our instructors successful?
Does it enhance FEJ? (Freedom, Enjoyment, Joy)
Zumba® disrupted the fitness industry by thinking outside the box and using a different channel (instructors) to approach the ultimate users (attendees at classes) vs. the traditional channel; gyms. Instructors tell the gyms that they want to hold Zumba® classes. Members ask their gyms for Zumba® classes.
It sounds a lot more fun than a traditional fitness class. Maybe I’ll try it.
(Notes from the March 7, 2013 Harvard Business School of Boston Association 5th Annual CEO Brand Leadership Roundtable event.)