How can a startup successfully build a new business with a limited budget and engage diverse customers while breaking into a very competitive industry? Here is how Blink Fitness is managing diversity marketing in New York City.

Blink Fitness is a value fitness center that focuses on feeling good as the primary motivator for joining. They have been in business for five years, experiencing increasing double-digit growth and positive bottom line results. I recently had the opportunity to hear its President, Todd Magazine, share about his experience growing this retail concept with the Kellogg Alumni Club of New York.

While Todd did not specifically speak to diversity marketing, I gleaned the following principles from him that will be useful to any new venture launching in New York City or any other U.S. market that is more than 45% multicultural:

  1. Speak to diversity, even if not cultural. Seeking a differentiated positioning, Blink Fitness goes against the grain by featuring a wide range of real bodies and promising “feel good” results rather than pounds/inches lost or achieving your ideal body. The by-product of that approach is a stronger multicultural appeal, as its message is by nature inclusive. Moreover, people in Blink Fitness ads reflect what New Yorkers really look like, unlike the many startup ads that I have seen on the subway which only portray a certain kind of person.

Blink Fitness 2016 Video Advertising – Source: YouTube

  1. Identify key benefits that need tweaking for diverse audiences. Given its budget and staff limitations as a startup, Blink can’t tailor every element of its value proposition to its trade area. However, music is one of the “mood lifting” pillars that are key to delivering on the Blink Fitness brand promise. And the emotion evoked by music is correlated to the age and ethnicity of the listener. Therefore, Blink plays different music to engage diverse customers based on their varied preferences. Another differentiation is their “everyone cleans” policy, which requires instilling a sense of pride in employees. Hiring people from the neighborhoods in which it operates accomplishes such a goal plus makes a positive local impact that customers also appreciate.
  1. Operate with excellence regardless of your location. Blink has built a strong business by consistently delivering a quality affordable fitness experience to consumers regardless of their socio-economic level. When developing its value concept, Blink leveraged the high-end operations philosophy and architectural design resources of its luxury sister brand Equinox. And they are reaping the benefits of their approach. This stands in contrast to retailers that allow their stores in highly ethnic, lower socio-economic areas to become run down, causing its shopper base to migrate to more affluent areas to make purchases. That creates a vicious cycle that erodes sales in the highly ethnic locations which in turn lowers a company’s desire to invest in the upkeep of the facilities.

At the end of the day, a startup’s business model and value proposition is what will drive its success or failure. However, for the many new ventures wanting to launch in the iconic New York City to attract trendsetters or impress investors, it is a must to give some thought to how the organization might engage diverse customers. May they draw inspiration from Blink Fitness.

Can your brand implement these ideas? Have you found any other budget-friendly ways to engage multiple segments simultaneously?