Costco Road Shows proving successful for specialty fitness retail

We check in with Leisure Fitness on how Costco Road Shows are helping drive business to specialty fitness.
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As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.

Two years ago, we told you about Precor and Life Fitness partnering up with specialty fitness retailers to put on several Costco Road Shows to tap a wider audience for both the brands and the retailers.

While the strategy to take specialty fitness to the big-box scene might seem counterintuitive, two years later, it’s proving successful. Typically, a road show has the retailer setting up a 10-foot-by-20-foot space in Costco for 10 days to feature a few specials on a brand’s equipment.

SNEWS checked in with retailer Leisure Fitness, which has been working with Precor and Life Fitness to host Costco Road Shows during the past two years. There have been some lessons learned throughout the experience, said Leisure Fitness Director of Sales and Marketing Andrew Leshik, but overall, it’s benefited the business, even beyond sales, with tremendous exposure and significant residual traffic back to the local stores.

“One of the first things we learned pretty quickly was that we couldn’t staff this with just our existing store staff,” Leshik said. It was just too tasking — 11.5 hours a day, for 10 days straight with 5,000 people coming through the doors every day, that’s a lot to handle. After a few shows in 2012, we decided to hire a dedicated team.”

In 2013, with the new team in place, Leisure Fitness did 22 Costco Road Shows — a total of 220 days — and in the first quarter of this year it’s been out for five events. Leisure Fitness picks Costcos that are within reasonable distance to one of its 27 locations, which then tend to see a residual bump in business for the next 30 days, Leshik said. It’s a win-win-win situation for the brand, retailer and Costco, he said.

“Costco has the pure visibility that we just can’t get — 5,000 people stepping in per day, some of our stores don’t see that in a year. On the flip side, Costco can’t provide the specialty sales reps to educate the customer. That’s where we come in.”

Leshik said the synergy is also there with a customer base that is prime to buy fitness equipment. “It’s not like we’re setting up at the dollar store. Most Costco customers go in and spend several hundred dollars per trip [they ’re saving money, but spending big] and that’s the customer we want to speak to.”

Leisure Fitness works with Precor and Leisure Fitness to offer a special discount on a few items — usually 3 or 4 cardio pieces. Costco gets a small cut of the proceeds and the specialty fitness retailer gets the rest.

The successful experience has re-enforced to Leisure Fitness officials that just like its corporate outreach — where it visits offices to conduct wellness programs — it must get out of the store and go to where the customer is.

“It’s not just for the sake of sales, but for the pure marketing," Leshik said. Getting in front of people with our experts and equipment is what’s working. Whether its an event or a big-box store where we have thousands potential customers going to one place, we want to be there.”

--David Clucas 

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