26 50

CMO50 2022 #26-50: Caitlin Bancroft

  • Name Caitlin Bancroft
  • Title Chief Marketing Officer
  • Company Collective Wellness Group (Anytime Fitness)
  • Commenced role June 2021
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 10 staff, 3 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Health and wellbeing
  • 2021 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Years ago, Caitlin Bancroft, the now CMO of Collective Wellness Group (Anytime Fitness), made the decision to leave the advertising industry where she had successfully established herself working in both Sydney and London, and return to Australia to pursue a passion for natural healthcare. 

    “I studied and gained my qualification as a naturopath, which included massage therapy, nutrition, herbal medicine and homoeopathy. This proved a good decision as it enabled me to combine my dual passions of brand marketing and natural healthcare. 

    “I have held a number of senior marketing roles looking after some fantastic natural healthcare brands, such as Thursday Plantation, Aussie Bodies, Musashi, Blackmores and BioCeuticals.”

    Innovative marketing

    January 2022 saw the launch of a new strategic direction for Anytime Fitness with a new brand campaign, ‘Any Body, Any Time’. Bancroft sought to create a brand platform which would drive the growth and success of the Anytime Fitness brand through its flexibility to support objectives at both a national, state and club level, and by finding a balance between emotive and functional messaging.

    “We wanted to stand out from the clutter and category norm of functional, sweaty, gym advertising showcasing slim, toned, and tanned bodies, to disrupt the outdated perceptions of what ‘fit’ and ‘healthy’ looks like, and break the stigma of gyms being an intimidating place, especially among our target audience of 18–29-year-olds,” she says.

    “Premised on the notion of what healthy looks like is different for everyone, and the fact our targets are actively seeking out purpose-led brands, our campaign sought to ignite self-confidence, encouraging people to embrace their individuality, and join the Anytime Fitness community.

    “Through a striking campaign, at the heart of which sat a 45 second film, we empowered the very people who have traditionally been ignored in gym advertising. Our cast of a Paralympian, wheelchair bodybuilder, body-positive influencer and other diverse Anytime Fitness members proudly showed how they break the stereotypes, and prove when it comes to fitness, there’s no one-size-fits-all.

    “Moreover, it stood out from the ‘sea of sameness’ and stereotypes which define gym and fitness advertising – slim, toned and tanned bodies. When I saw the final TVC I had goosebumps; it was a first step in our ambition to break the stigma of ‘gymtimidation’ and I knew it would be disruptive and memorable.

    “It also tackled, head on, the traditional notions of what exercise, healthy and beautiful means in a world where Instagram-perfect is the celebrated norm.”

    The results speak for themselves, with improvements year-on-year for all brand health measures. In June 2022, awareness was 64 per cent (+5pp), consideration 34 per cent (+3pp) and preference 20 per cent (+3pp), a clear number one position.

    “Moreover, for the first 10 weeks of the campaign from January 2, 2022 to March 8, 2022 we saw 73,810 new joiners, an increase of 75 per cent year-on-year, equating to nearly one new member per minute! We also saw an increase in leads and quality conversion.”

    Business smarts

    For many Australians, joining a gym can be intimidating, given the body-perfect imagery so prevalent in the category. Moreover, gyms can be scary places to visit, especially if you’re part of the LGBTIQA+ community or one of the 4.4 million people living with a disability. 

    Bancroft says as the country’s largest gym network they wanted to change this. To launch the new brand platform, it disrupted the outdated perceptions of what ‘fit’ and ‘healthy’ looks like and in the process created a powerful purpose-driven business-wide transformation for inclusivity.

    “‘Any Body, Any Time’ was more than a campaign which championed health inclusivity. It sparked a wider business mission to make Anytime Fitness the most welcoming gym network in Australia," she says.

    “The brand launched national partnerships with WeFlex and Proud2Play, collaborating to support genuine diversity and inclusion across our 500+ gyms. Our partnership with WeFlex saw us conduct an accessibility audit to ensure all clubs are designed to accommodate people with unique sensory needs and disabilities, including educating and certifying staff to train them. 

    “As a result, we have launched ‘quiet hours’ in several gyms and now have over 100 Anytime Fitness clubs around Australia partnering with WeFlex to upskill and begin working with individuals with a disability.

    “Together with Proud2Play, we are developing local community outreach and consultation plans to help all our clubs connect with LGBTQI+ people and groups.”

    From an operational perspective, forms, contracts, and a CRM have been updated to allow for pronouns and disability support call out. An education roadmap has been developed and LMS modules created and launched to club staff, club owners and head office covering subconscious bias, disability inclusion and pronoun education.

    “An advisory council including club owners, members, club staff and head office staff was established around our ‘why’ around ‘A space to be heard. A champion for everybody’ with a quarterly meeting cadence to ensure the continued prioritisation of this strategy,” Bancroft says.

    Customer-led value

    Given its limited media budget, Anytime Fitness used quantitative consumer insights to inform its choice of digital platform to maximise the reach for its primary target audience of 18-29 year-olds. 

    “Our 2021 brand health research established YouTube is the most used digital platform, app or website, for workouts and health related information, such as meal plans and fitness guidance for our target, with 55 per cent of them using it,” she explains.

    “We also know 94 per cent of our audience watches YouTube. We therefore prioritised this channel and were the first among our competitors to establish our presence here, taking advantage of our first mover status to increase share of voice. We elected to run a heavy weighting of YouTube with skippable ‘true view’ targeting relevant in-market and affinity audience segments.

    “The results supported our prioritisation of this channel with the data showing most of our YouTube Ads or 41 per cent of the total impressions were served on ConnectedTVs, helping drive strong reach and awareness of 5.24 million people reached Jan 11- Feb 28, 2022, and supplementing our appointment to view Foxtel TV buy. 

    “Cost and click through rates outperformed fitness industry benchmarks, and results from a brand lift study conducted by Google reflected an 8 per cent increase in consideration among users who were exposed to our Anytime Fitness 45 and 15s ads.”

    As a brand, its mission is to lead the fitness industry in advocating inclusivity, by transforming culture, environment, and the member experience. The brand campaign brought to life the ambition to make fitness more accessible and enjoyable for all Australians, no matter their shape, size, sex, gender, ethnicity, ability, or level of fitness. 

    “We did this by showcasing the true diversity of members who work out in our clubs every day. However, we were cognisant our marketing campaign would be mere puffery if the member experience didn’t reflect our marketing,” she explains.

    “So we launched a four-year action plan for inclusion, diversity and equality which we published on our website to be truly transparent of where we were up to in our journey. This includes a review of our gym floors, equipment, change rooms and membership options. We’re also working to educate and certify our personal trainers and staff to help train clients with disabilities. Additionally, we’re raising the bar on gender neutral support for working parents in the fitness industry, plus reviewing our hiring process to encourage diversity.

    “Based on the results of our brand health research, it is evident these initiatives are delivering positive results for our business. We measure our positioning across 13 variables, including convenience, low crowds, affordable memberships, modern equipment and inclusive and approachable, and compare ourselves to 16 competitors including F45, Fitness First, Jetts, Virgin Active, and Plus Fitness. Anytime Fitness is the number one brand for ‘inclusive and approachable’, ‘caring’, ‘personalised coaching’ and ‘strong relationship with members’.”

    Commercial and growth acumen

    Both the ‘Any Body, Any Time’ campaign and the recent August 17th ‘One Day Sale’ campaign clearly demonstrate marketing’s contribution to the business’ bottom line.

    “The first 10 weeks of our “Any Body, Any Time” campaign delivered a ROI of 2.8. Moreover, this ROI is likely conservative given the investment of $1.385 million includes the full value of creative services and production, which will be used across an 18 month period. 

    “In the period Jan 2, 2022, to March 8, 2022, an additional 73,810 new members joined Anytime Fitness. We attributed 40 per cent of new members to media based on previous local area tests. For the 29,524 new members attributable to media their average value is $1,094 based on average tenure of 61 weeks and average membership charges of $18.03 per week. Estimated average member margin is 12 per cent or $131, giving us a margin attributable to media of $3.875 million. 

    “ROI of 2.8 was calculated based on margin/investment. Further to this, since the campaign launch in January 2022, we have seen strong growth in member numbers of over 101,000 in the last six months verses year-on-year, and are forecast to hit 600,000 members by the end of September, 2022.

    “Our recent One Day Sale campaign was our most successful to date. All clubs were provided an execution guide and creative assets including in-club assets like posters, cardio screens, pull up banners, DL flyers, and digital assets like social media tiles, videos, email templates, SMS templates and pre-recorded radio ads. National spend was $189,000 with clubs supporting via paid socials. 

    “Results were outstanding! We welcomed 9.5 new members/min; an average of 25.5 members per club, with a total 13,770 joiners. Based on the average one-day sale joiner yield of $18.52 per week, the annual revenue increase is $13.3 million, or an average of $24,000 per club.”

    Leadership impact

    Team Engagement was a key priority for Bancroft coming into the business just over 12 months ago. Similarly, ensuring she had the right talent in the right roles in the marketing team, both to drive performance and create the right culture, was critical. 

    “I am proud to say I am well on track to delivering on these ambitions with the marketing team engagement score increasing from 51 per cent to 86 per cent in six months. I am proud to say every member of my team with a tenure of more than six months achieved an annual pay rise of 10 per cent or more, as I sought to bring the marketing team salaries more in line with external benchmarks. 

    “Every member of the marketing team, from my brand leads to the digital marketing coordinators, have individual development plans endorsed by me and approved by the business. Each of the team have a budget allocated for external training opportunities and everyone has access to, and is encouraged to use, our learning management system, Ignite, for both personal and professional development.

    “The marketing team have all completed DISC profiling and we have used the results as a team building exercise to learn more about each other, celebrate our differences and improve ways of working. We have organised team fitness classes, lunches, dinners and everyone's birthday is celebrated with a team breakfast or lunch.”

    Share this article