Vision Fitness kicked off the start of the busy fitness selling season with two promotions to help retailers sell the company's equipment.
The first, which ran during October, raised funds and awareness for breast cancer; the second, which runs through November and December, challenges specialty fitness customers to win prizes for getting fit using the equipment company's "Sprint 8" interval programming.
"We know we want to become more than a fitness equipment company, and we know we want to inspire people to get fit," said company spokeswoman Christa Walter. "We decided to try a consumer campaign nationally."
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 5 percent of proceeds donated
The breast cancer awareness campaign, just finishing Oct. 31, not only raised the $50,000 the company had allotted for its donation, but retailers found many customers spent more and bought the Vision brand because of it.
Pete Weyenberg, manager of the 2nd Wind Exercise store in East Appleton, Wis., told the story of a woman who came into the store with "her shield up," and who was quick to point out she didn't want to spend more than $500 on a treadmill. He started explaining the equipment, but "I didn't know how far it was going to go," he said.
"Then she sees a hang tag (about the breast cancer program) on a treadmill that was about three times what she thought she wanted to spend, and asked what it was about," Weyenberg said. When he told her about the company donating 5 percent of proceeds and showed her the brochures on cancer awareness, her response was quick.
"I'll take a Vision," she told him. He said he discovered that her best friend had passed away about two years earlier from breast cancer and she said she takes every chance she gets to contribute. "She literally knew that was what she wanted -- a Vision," he said. In fact, he added, she ended up buying a 9450 for about $1,900.
In Texas at the Busy Body store in Sugarland and at G&G Fitness in Rochester, N.Y., similar scenarios played out. Busy Body manager Ryan Wendt said the stickers made up the mind of a woman shopping because she herself was a survivor.
"It's a great cause, and it helps them sell more equipment, and it helps us too," Wendt said. "My mother's a survivor too, so I don't mind pushing Vision to help the cause.
"I think more companies could do this. People want to contribute to a cause," Wendt said. "If it's between one brand and another brand, and some proceeds from one go to a cause they're supportive of, it can help make up someone's mind."
The campaign was not only about the donation, but also about education. The American Cancer Society gave literature for the retailers to have available discussing the importance of awareness, self-examination and staying fit.
Vision will present its check for $50,000 to the American Cancer Society at its headquarters in Lake Mills, Wis.
Sprint 8 to fitness and prizes
Just as the cancer fund-raiser comes to a close, Vision is kicking off a second promotion that entices specialty customers to buy its equipment, use its Sprint 8 interval programming, and win prizes for getting more fit.
Anyone who purchases a piece that includes the Sprint 8 programming (treadmills, bikes or elliptical) can enter the contest by submitting before and after photos, stating their goal at the start, doing the workout three to four times a week for six weeks, then writing an essay or entry about how they changed, documenting their results, from weight loss to lower blood pressure.
A team from Vision, including Sprint 8 developer Phil Campbell and others, will evaluate entries and results to choose a grand prize winner and numerous other prize winners. The grand prize winner not only gets 50,000 airline miles but reimbursement for the product's purchase price. Others can win reimbursement or iPod Nanos. But no dilly-dallying is allowed. Entries must be received by Feb. 28, meaning that anybody who buys a piece by the end of December, has to get a move-on to get in their six weeks.
"Winning free merchandise is a great reason to participate," Vision President Greg Waters said, “but making the six-week commitment to significantly improve your fitness, drop body fat, improve energy, and tone muscle may be the best reason of all.”
SNEWS® View: In our GearTrends® 2005 fitness magazine, we wrote about what has been called "passion marketing" or "cause marketing" where businesses tap into something that they feel is important and, through that, become more than just a store selling stuff to the public. These are two things that are great examples of such marketing campaigns and exactly what retail pundits today say businesses must do. Why? Because the consumer is much savvier, much choosier, and wants to find a connection to a brand or store by supporting causes he or she can believe in. Perhaps a fitness contest isn't a cause, per se, but it does make a statement about the company and its interest in the customer as someone who isn't just giving them money, but also someone the company really wants to help. That in itself could be perceived as a cause and a way of speaking to consumers about something they care about. To read our 2005 GearTrends® story, called "Passion Pays Off" (page 32), click here.