Health and fitness is top of mind for people as they embrace the new year, but with limited access to gyms and new pockets of free time, we are seeing shifts in how consumers engage with their health. Technology is a critical component of this, changing the fitness landscape. Whether it be surges in high tech home gym equipment purchases, increased interest in virtual fitness instruction, or the continued growth of the health gadget market, consumers are actively spending on health and fitness products.

The Fitness Generational Divide

At Quantcast, we looked at audience shifts in search and interest behavior between the first and third quarters of 2020 to understand how the pandemic has impacted consumer mindset around fitness. 

We found that while every generation has shown increased fitness interest, how they engage with their health varies greatly:

  • Home gym equipment is seeing the strongest gains with male, well-educated baby boomers.
  • Virtual fitness instruction is largely driven by Gen X with children, but seeing strong gains with baby boomers.
  • Health Gadgets remains the domain of middle-income millennials and younger Gen X.

Work(out) from home

Prior to the pandemic, virtual fitness instruction was a nice alternative, primarily used for its time savings and convenience. But with studios closing and people stuck at home, virtual fitness instruction has become a must-have technology option for staying active. We saw increased interest from two distinct groups: boomers and parents.

  • Boomers: Virtual fitness is likely being used by this older age group less for weight loss and more to maintain their physical health and mobility. This audience is six times more likely to search for physical therapy-related topics.
  • Parents: Virtual fitness grew their composition with the “Has Kids” audience by 2.5% while the other search cohorts went towards childless consumers. This implies that the target audience for virtual fitness should be homebound multi-tasking parents, looking to squeeze in quick 20-minute classes in the comfort of their own homes.

Market is not saturated

Home gym equipment (HGE) audiences typically skew older and have higher household income, but what is most interesting is that the market isn’t saturated, and we are seeing the most growth come from these same groups during COVID. HGE grew their boomer composition by 6.6% since COVID, jumping from 20.2% of their search audience to 26.8%. Similarly, the HGE audience is the only cohort to grow their $150K+ audience during COVID, from 12% to 14.8% of their browsing audience.

Gadget-forward adrenaline sports

The health gadget audience is interested in getting data for activities that extend beyond your standard gym workout. They over-index for many non-traditional healthy activities such as scuba diving, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, bicycling and swimming. With the wearables consumer showing greater interest in adrenaline sports, advertisers should focus their creative on more action packed sports imagery to appeal to this consumer’s daring side.

Want more?

For a complete look at Quantcast’s changing consumer fitness insights, download our 2020 Fitness Insights Report.

For more information on how Quantcast can help your brand understand online consumer behavior in real-time, get in touch here.