The Skinny On Promoting Fitness.

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A major health insurance company’s ad campaign encourages people to take the stairs instead of the escalator, park farther away and walk around the block at lunch time. It echoes a movement driven by the health care industry to get people moving and ultimately lower the prevalence of ailments such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Insurance companies have a vested interest in people’s welfare, but don’t we all? If you’re an employer, you know first-hand the expense of heath insurance – not to mention lost work due to sick employees. The obesity epidemic in the United States has caused organizations of all sizes and makeup to take seriously their employees’ and their community’s health.
“Healthy living and wellness have become a big focus with all corporate customers,” relays Marketing Manager Lindsay Hoylman with Leed’s in New Kensington, Pa. She cites the American Heart Association, which reports that at least 25 percent of the health care costs incurred by working adults can be attributed to modifiable health risks, such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
Jennifer Grigorian, director of advertising and marketing for Sweda Co. in Monrovia, Calif., affirms this sentiment. “As a society we have become more health conscious over the last five years,” she says. “More and more advertisements and other types of media stress the importance of taking care of your body and your health the best you can.”
The promotional market has evolved with the social consciousness, Grigorian adds, as the growth in health and wellness products is no longer limited to health care organizations or gyms.
“Employers of all sizes, local businesses sponsoring youth sports teams, schools and churches are all being brought into the fitness and wellness market by creative distributors,” reports Jim Espinoza, co-founder and president of Shelbyville, Tenn.-based Medi-Facts, a division of Shepenco. As health and weight issues of the population at large – and particularly of youth – receive significant attention, businesses are seizing the opportunity to take action, make positive changes and position themselves on the right side of the issue. “Also, employers are becoming more aware of the impact of employee wellness on their bottom lines,” Espinoza adds.
Don’t forget the PR benefits of a healthy-living promotion, either. Sponsoring fitness products or campaigns can foster press and photo opportunities on a local level. It can also lead to further recognition among peers from industry publications and associations, Espinoza continues.
Health awareness has trickled down to the masses, too. “Not only are corporations becoming more educated about healthy living, but Americans generally have an increased focus on the subject,” Hoylman says. “The annual amount spent on gym memberships in America rivals the annual amount spent on promotional products: According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, Americans as a whole spent $14.8 billion.”
“The best promotional products are those that appeal to a large demographic segment and fitness products definitely fit that profile,” she continues. Fitness-related products tend to be well-received because most people, whether they follow through or not, have good intentions to take care of themselves. And the right product can provide the encouragement they need.
As far as selling solutions instead of mere products, getting your clients to begin in-house wellness campaigns peppered with healthy gifts such as pedometers and progress-tracking journals can save them a lot more capital down the road. “Companies are adopting fitness programs to combat the rising costs of health care,” Hoylman says. “As companies adopt and launch wellness initiatives, it makes sense to internally promote and to give promotional products in conjunction with theses programs.”
Tout the benefits of a wellness program, and watch your client respond favorably. “Sell the message that this type of campaign can build,” Espinoza advises. “Then talk about how a particular product or selection of products will bring all this about, along with the longer-term advertising that having their logo out there will bring. This simply amounts to a familiar and successful tactic: Create a need, and then fill it.”
This article was written by Debrah Rosen for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

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