The fitness industry has experienced a growth in recent years both in the United States and worldwide. According to Statista1, the global fitness industry generates more than $80 billion in revenue annually; and round $25.8 billion is attributable to the United States, which is the single biggest market worldwide in terms of not only revenue but also the number of fitness clubs and members. In 2015, there were 36 thousand fitness clubs in operation in the U.S. with about 55 million members out of 186 thousand fitness clubs worldwide.
Yoga first got introduced to the West and became popular in the late 19th century. According to Statista1, the number of people practicing yoga in the United States was around 36.7 million as at 2015 and is projected to reach over 55 million by 2020. According to the 2016 YOGA in America Study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance1, yoga practitioners in the United States spent $16 billion on classes, gear, and accessories in 2016, which was up from $10 billion three years ago. Yoga is gaining the popularity since it focuses not only on the physical fitness but more importantly on the spiritual practices that consist of disciplines, self-exploration, and self-recognition. The correct marketing techniques are to be credited for the widespread popularity of Yoga throughout the world.
History of Yoga
Derived from the Sanksrit word “Yuj”, which translates to “to unite” or “to join”, Yoga is a spiritual discipline that focuses on harmonising the mind and the body.4 The history of Yoga dates back to thousands of years, with its mentions in the holy Indian scriptures like the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagwad Gita. According to modern day thinkers and scientists, “Everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament.”4 Yoga, thus, helps in attaining a state of freedom, and hence lead to self-realization, similar to what the Buddha has attained. This state of mind helps an individual in increasing focus, concentration, and positivity, which leads to better productivity, along with the betterment of one’s quality of life.4
Yoga is said to have been prevalent since pre-Vedic times, Vedas being the most ancient Hindu scriptures, and historians suggest that the great sage Patanjali made the then existing practices of Yoga more systematic through Yoga Sutras, in order to preserve the knowledge that he has learnt about the art of Yoga, and to pass on the literature to future generations in order for them to follow.4
The history of Yoga can be classified into the Classical period and the Modern period. The Classical period covers the time period of 500 B.C. to 800 A.D. During this period, Yoga was performed in the forms of either Gyan Yoga (Gyan = wisdom), Bhakti Yoga (Bhakti = worship), and Karma Yoga (Karma = actions). These three forms of Yoga were considered to be the highest and purest forms of Yoga, thus giving an individual the utmost amount of human wisdom as well as mental peace. The Buddha is said to have followed these forms of Yoga.4
The Modern period focuses on the period between 1700 A.D. to 1900 A.D. The most popular forms of Yoga during these times were the Raja Yoga, which literally translates to Royal Yoga, and Hatha Yoga (Hatha = force). Raja Yoga aims at attaining a state of samadhi, ultimately enabling the Yogi to feel like a king from within1.
In today’s times, the focus of performing Yoga is more towards achieving a state of homeostasis, a balance between the mind and the body, and increasing productivity in everyday life. Lately, there have been quite a few misconceptions about Yoga, by associating it to a particular religion, or to a particular group of people. But in reality, Yoga is a philosophy for everyone to follow, irrespective of the person’s caste, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.
Competitor Analysis and Primary Target Market
Yoga is gaining more interest in the big cities since it is a great stress reliever, especially for people who live in big cities and have fast-paced lifestyles, such as New York City. In New York City, there are more than one hundred yoga studios according to Classpass2. The big players in this market include Pure Yoga, Modo Yoga NYC, and Integral Yoga Institute.
Pure Yoga3, a high-end yoga studio owned by Equinox, which is the high-performance lifestyle leader and operator of Equinox Fitness Clubs, Blink Fitness, Pure Yoga, and SoulCycle, focuses more on high-income and middle-age customer base. Pure Yoga only has two locations in New York City, upper east side and upper west side, which are two famous neighborhoods in New York City with high-income residents. Pure Yoga’s pricing is based on membership only ($169/month for annual membership or $199/month for month-to-month membership) and doesn’t offer purchases for single class or class package. It provides mats, towels, branded shampoo and conditioner, body wash, shaving tools, and sauna with no additional charge. Besides yoga, Pure Yoga also offers various barre classes with additional fees. The studio also hosts many training programs and workshops taught by world-famous instructors. The cancellation policy of the annual membership is very strict. Members have to show proofs for either losing a job, or moving 25 miles away from the studios, or doctor’s letter. Despite of its strict cancellation policy and pricy membership, Pure Yoga has been able to maintain a large customer base by bringing customers unique yoga experience unlike any other. The variety and the number of classes offered (350 weekly classes across 20 yoga styles), sophisticated instructors, as well as its modern, luxury environment enable it to create and capture values for its targeted customers.
Unlike Pure Yoga, Modo Yoga NYC1, also known as Koksha in Canada, targets on younger demographic with moderate incomes and aims to share love in the communities. The two studios locate near Washington Square and Williamsburg, which are both well-known neighborhoods for young and vigorous residents. Community support and charity support are big values for Modo Yoga NYC. It offers community classes ($5/class) regularly and it has raised $156,459 for various charities including Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Pathway to paris, Junglekeepers, Edeyo Foundations and God’s Love We Deliver. The classes offered at Modo Yoga NYC are all hot yoga classes where room temperature is as high as 98°F. The pricing at Modo Yoga NYC is more affordable compared to Pure Yoga. It offers membership ($115/month and $45/month rental fee) as well as class packages ($170 for 10 classes, $95 for 5 classes, and $20 for single class). In addition to strong community bond, Modo Yoga NYC has grown its customer base through its friendly staff, good quality classes, delicious complimentary tea, and interesting yoga books it sells.
Integral Yoga Institute1, a registered nonprofit organization that has been serving the New York community since 1966, is dedicated to provide access to the yoga practice and teachings of Integral Yoga. The targeted customer base is much broader compared with Pure Yoga and Modo Yoga NYC. It provides various yoga and therapy teacher training programs. In addition to yoga practice, Integral Yoga Institute brings yoga to one’s everyday life. It provides Yoga At Work and Yoga At School Programs, in which instructors come to the offices or schools to host a yoga practice session so that people can be relaxed and gain efficiency in working or studying. It also provides Private Yoga Program, in which the instructors can give hands-on teaching at home or at the studios. Integral Yoga Institute also provides various therapy services including acupuncture, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Cranial Therapy, Prenatal Swedish Massage, Myofascial Release to further improve one’s wellness. Furthermore, It created Integral natural Foods, including organic products and highest quality vegetarian supplements to develop a healthier diet system. The pricing of Integral Yoga Institute is affordable since it is a nonprofit organization. It offers month membership ($125/month, $325 for 3 months) and class packages ($100 for 10 classes, and $12 for single class, $5 for community class). Students, seniors 65 or older, first responders, schoolteachers, and people on unemployment receive yoga classes for $10 and everyone is free for a yoga class and free to bring a friend on the birthday. Integral Yoga Institute also has a Work Exchange Program, where people can work for the studio and exchange for a pass for the yoga classes or workshops. Integral Yoga Institute strives to bring yoga to everyone regardless of his or her income, age, residence, religion, or ethnicity as well as bring yoga to every aspect of life for all.
Those three player in New York City yoga markets act as competitors; however, they are all fulfilling their different missions through creating values for their targeted customers.
One cannot deny that Yoga has been gaining popularity all over the world despite of its possible origins on the Indian subcontinent. The fact that yoga is all about spirituality, is making people attracted to it all the more, since it is a means to inculcate mental peace in this constantly chaotic life that most people have in this time and age.
In the United States, for example, the number of yoga practitioners has increased from 15.8 million to 36.7 million, between the years 2008 and 2016.8 Considering the impact the yoga has on the human mind and body, people regularly participating in yoga experience a more active lifestyle than before, a calmer mind, an increased drive and determination, and body positivity.9
The increase in awareness towards yoga over other forms of workout regimens has encouraged more and more people to take up the activity. The percentage of Americans who are more likely to enroll in a yoga class has gone up to 34% between 2016 and 2017.1 If considered from a business point of view, these statistics can be converted into really profitable businesses, which a lot of individuals have been cashing on these days. The art of Yoga has been improvised by numerous fitness experts and health care experts in order to cater to the different needs of people today.10
The biggest trend these days have to be Yoga studios. People have been frequenting studios that teach Yoga and other less hard core fitness trainings such as Pilates, instead of gyms.
Moreover, considering the inevitable advent of the technological era, there have been introductions of mobile applications that teach people about the various Yoga Asanas along with video tutorials, as well as theoretical explanations. As a result, people who are always hooked on to their gadgets get the opportunity to take advantage of learning Yoga while on the go.10 Since Yoga also consists of breathing exercises and not just physical ones, Yoga can also be practised.10
Another one of the newer and a pretty weird trends has been “Beer Yoga”.10 Beer is considered to be the most healthy of all alcoholic beverages, and to combine the benefits of Yoga with those of beer, the idea of Beer Yoga was invented. Beer Yoga is, as suggested by the name itself, sipping beer while performing Yoga. Although shunned by Yoga experts and connoisseurs of the Yogic art, it is a rage amongst the millenials, in order to remain calm and fit.1
Yoga retreats or shibirs are another popular options amongst the younger generations. Yoga studios organise a multi-day picnic/retreat in order to take practitioners away from their busy and hectic lives, to some beach or mountain-side destination, are asked to shut off all contact with the outside world and just focus on themselves, as a detox practice. The participants are given itineraries that include lots of Yoga, spa days, cleanses, and healthy food.
The biggest and the most innovative idea, in current times, that best indicates the business potential that Yoga has, has to be the celebration of the International Yoga Day in India, held every year. The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi has been an avid performer and supporter of the art of Yoga. As a result, he has been holding the International Yoga Day, every year, since 2014, where thousands of people from around the world participate. In 2017, it was reported that about 50,000 people participated. Other countries like the United States, China, Mexico, Singapore, Italy, and Colombia to name a few, have followed suit. As a result of this initiative, Yoga, now as a part of the lifestyle industry, is worth an estimated $106 million.1
- Statista. https://www.statista.com/topics/1141/health-and-fitness-clubs/
- Statista. https://www.statista.com/topics/3229/yoga/
- The 2016 YOGA in America Study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance. http://media.yogajournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016-Yoga-in-America-Study-Comprehensive-RESULTS.pdf
- Yoga: Its Origin, History, and Development http://www.mea.gov.in/in-focus-article.htm?25096/Yoga+Its+Origin+History+and+Development#
- Classpass. https://classpass.com/studios
- Pure Yoga. https://pureyoga.com
- Modo Yoga. https://nyc.modoyoga.com/
- Integral Yoga Institute. https://iyiny.org/
- The 2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance http://media.yogajournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016-Yoga-in-America-Study-Comprehensive-RESULTS.pdf
- 6 Yoga Trends to Look Forward to in 2018 https://www.franchiseindia.com/wellness/6-Yoga-trends-to-look-forward-to-in-2018.10461
- Yoga Day: India's PM Narendra Modi leads thousands in practice to mark international day http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-21/yoga-day-india-pm-narendra-modi-leads-thousands-in-practice/8640154
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