Some fitness influencers say a surge in sales of direct-to-consumer workout services has protected their incomes, as brand deals slump amid the coronavirus pandemic


Katie Dunlop

  • As more people seek at-home workout alternatives amid the coronavirus pandemic, fitness influencers on Instagram and YouTube have seen a spike in engagement and in direct-to-consumer sales. 
  • These membership-based programs don't require fancy equipment and are offered in the form of an app or virtual program online.
  • Business Insider spoke to some top fitness influencers on how their businesses have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Fitness influencer Katie Dunlop — who created the at home-workout program and app, Love Sweat Fitness — has been filming live content on Instagram for her 392,000 followers almost every day this past week. 

Usually, Dunlop only goes live once or twice a month, she told Business Insider. But as more people seek at-home workout alternatives amid the coronavirus pandemic, fitness influencers on Instagram and YouTube like Dunlop have seen a huge increase in demand for their services.

"There's been a really interesting shift with people being forced to workout at home who maybe aren't used to it," she said. "We've seen a huge growth in the consumption of our content, downloads of our mobile app."

Dunlop's program has always focused on workouts you can do anywhere, with a YouTube channel (573,000 subscribers), mobile app, and website. Traffic and views have surged this month across these platforms, said Katie's husband Ryan Dunlop, chief operating officer and cofounder of Love Sweat Fitness. 

"I would say website traffic has been up over 50% since this started week-over-week," Ryan said. "We are growing a lot on Instagram right now, and we are seeing organic views of all of our content and engagement on our content up a lot right now." 

Fitness creators are an anomaly in the influencer business right now, as they often focus on direct-to-consumer services that can directly benefit from the increased demand. Other categories, like fashion and travel, have seen their businesses upended as brand partnerships and paid events have been canceled.

Fitness-related brand partnerships have declined as well, Ryan said, but since they are supported by DTC revenue, the overall business model hasn't been impacted as much.

"We don't have to do some crazy shift in our business to make it work right now," Katie said. 

Love Sweat Fitness

Hanna Coleman has seen a 62% spike in sales for her $30.00 at-home workout guide

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Dunlops have offered a free 30-day trial of their mobile app online. The app is free to download, and the premium version costs $13.99 for one month, $35.99 for three months, and $99.99 for a yearly subscription. 

"We've seen thousands of sign-ups for that app, which has been driven off of [the free trial]," Ryan said.

The Dunlops aren't the only ones to see an increase in demand.

Hanna Coleman, an Instagram and YouTube influencer based in New York City who shares fitness tips with her followers, said she's seen a 62% spike in sales for her $30.00 (usually $60.00) at-home workout guide this month.  

"I put my guide on sale so it's more accessible to everyone," she said. "If anyone donates — even $1 — to any foundation helping the coronavirus or the people affected, and sends me a DM @hanna.coleman, I send them a 50% off code on top of the general discount of the guide." 

Due to popular demand through direct messages on Instagram, Coleman said she's releasing an "at home plant-based cooking guide" in April on what to cook and how to eat healthy while under quarantine. 

Tobi Pearce, the CEO of the at-home fitness program Sweat, told Business Insider in an emailed statement that the program had seen a spike in app membership across countries like the US, UK, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Greece in the past few weeks. The app costs $19.99 monthly and $119.94 annually.

"It's definitely caused a massive surge in my seven-day free trial offer," said Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, a fitness influencer on Instagram who runs the account Melissa Wood Health with 344,000 followers. "I'm sharing as much free content as possible [on Instagram]." 

Her online fitness program costs $9.99 a month and $99.99 for a yearly subscription.

Hanna Coleman

More free content, discounted programs, and extended free trials

With this spike in interest, fitness creators are offering more free content to followers, and they are discounting paid programs and extending free trials. 

For instance, Wood-Tepperberg said she's been sharing workouts and meditations for free on her website and sharing content for free on IGTV. 

"Showing everyone that even with 20 minutes you can shift your mindset exponentially by adding some movement and mediation into your day," Wood-Tepperberg said.

Influencers who create content for the Sweat program — which has over 150 weeks' worth of content available across its five at-home programs within the app — have taken steps to provide minimal-equipment alternatives, knowing many people don't have access to basic gym equipment, Pearce said.

The fitness influencers also said that, throughout this month, they had been mindful that their businesses were surging as other influencers categories — and business categories generally — were hurting.

"It's a weird feeling when people ask us how the business is doing," Ryan said. "It's a weird thing to say actually, it's doing great. It's awful what is going on and I think our only intention was to try to find out ways we could help." 

Sign up for Business Insider's influencer newsletter, Influencer Dashboard, to get more stories like this in your inbox.


For more industry updates on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, check these posts on Business Insider Prime:

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns explains why country music is universal


Tags: Instagram, Greece, Rihanna, New York City, Trends, Ken Burns, Ryan, Katie, Pearce, Dunlop, Fenty Beauty, Tobi Pearce, Ryan Dunlop, Katie Dunlop, Hanna Coleman, Instagram Coleman, US UK Italy Brazil Portugal Spain, Melissa Wood Tepperberg, Melissa Wood Health, Wood Tepperberg

Source:  http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider/~3/RXoTqAMCpmU/fitness-influencers-instagram-youtube-see-surge-dtc-workout-service-sales-2020-3