Most of us are pretty bad at achieving goals, particularly ones that are set in the first week of the new year. Gyms call these people “resolution members” and is where they make a fair chunk of their annual revenue.
iConnect360, a cloud based gym management software company, found that 58% of paying members only average 7.4 sessions per month, with 42% failing to show up all together. Joining a gym isn’t exactly loose change either given a typical monthly membership costs around $65.
In short, paying for a gym membership with the reward of getting in better shape isn’t a strong enough driver for the majority of the population. Evidence below.
By the numbers
Gyms aren’t alone to attrition. The proliferation of wearable health devices are experiencing similarly high churn. Analysis from Rock Health found “more than 70% of Fitbit purchasers from the first three quarters of 2014 churned before the end of the year.”
A problem with wearables is charging. You take the device off to charge before the habit is formed and naturally forget to put it back on. Game over.
After interviewing Australia’s top health insurers, it became apparent there is strong enthusiasm for Health Tech and connected devices to be the silver bullet which can help curb the Australian obesity epidemic and improve profit margins. However, as neither gyms or connected devices have a proven track record we turned to behavioural economics in search for a potential solution.
Commitment Contracts: A proven habit formation driver
A commitment contract is a contrarian financial incentive where participants deposit a sum of money that they risk losing if commitment to achieve goal goes unfulfilled.
E.g. Commit $500 to not consume fizzy drink for a year.
Behavioural Economists have long known the “fear of losing” is a greater driver than the “reward of winning” and a quick Google search will uncover supporting evidence from Yale, Stanford and Harvard among others that commitment contracts are highly effective motivators from losing weight to spending more time with family.
A study published in the American Economic Journal highlighted how commitment contracts drastically improved participation by over 100% within a Fortune 500 Company gym during trial period. Interestingly, even once incentive period finished, participants who entered into commitment contracts formed longer lasting habits than those who used only traditional reward based incentives or no incentives at all.
– American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2015, 7(3): 51–84
As an experiment the FilteredHQ team have spun out a simple subscription based product called Commit modelled on the psychology of commitment contracts to help you achieve your fitness goals this summer (or any goal for that matter).
Simply join our $60 per month subscription, choose your habit (Walking, Running, Yoga, Gym etc) click the “Yes, I did it” button on our daily email reminders 15 times in a month to receive your full refund.
You read that right. We refund people who actually use this service.
It is 100% honesty policy at the moment. If we see enough interest and traction over the trial period we may look to build a true tech solution which verifies your fitness activities.
FilteredHQ wishes you a happy holiday season and we look forward to more exciting innovations next year.
- Suncorp Bank Cost of Being Fit Report (2015)
- Fitness Network
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Canstar Blue
- Rock Health
- Incentives, Commitments, and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company†