Immersing oneself in a culture is an important part of understanding their customs, beliefs and values. It is essential to have a strong grasp of a society’s historical and cultural makeup when, as advertisers, we attempt to understand their consumer behavior (desiring, searching for, purchasing and using consumer products). Each day in Poland, we have done our best to immerse ourselves in the Polish culture in some way that will ultimately help us to wrap our heads around the country’s exercise and health club culture.
We began our time here learning all we could about the country’s history; we visited Auschwitz and Wawel Hill, took a city tour and discussed the country’s past struggles. From our experience, we made the conclusions that while leisure exercise (yoga, pilates, body building, etc.) have only become accessible relatively recently, people may be hesitant to spend the money they now have on exercise memberships or products.
Our lecture by a professor from Krakow’s University of Economics confirmed this thought; she stated that only about one out of three Polish people exercise on a regular basis. She believes this is because the people would prefer to spend time with family, watching TV, or participating in other activities. This notion helped us to understand the alternatives our consumer has to choosing products in our category.
Finally, our ethnographic excursions have taught us about Polish use of gyms and exercise equipment. This morning, we visited a fitness club called Pure near Krakow’s Bonarka City Center. We spoke with a manager and toured the facility, leading us to a few conclusions. First, that the consumer of these memberships is motivated by looks, rather than simply health benefits. While in most American gyms one would find individuals exercising in grungy clothes, the majority of these exercisers donned high-end sporting apparel. They likely value looking good just as much as (if not more than) feeling good. The club’s location also gave us hints about the industry–Pure has locations in two Krakow neighborhoods that are experiencing very rapid growth and urbanization. This may correlate with an increasing appreciation for exercise and it’s health benefits.
Our exploration of our category’s consumer will continue as we travel to Warsaw tomorrow. Stay tuned!