The fitness industry : women, imagery and advertising appeal

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Lefroy, Ciara
Issue Date
MA of Business Administration
Dublin Business School
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Despite the increase of obesity and physical inactivity rates in Ireland and across Europe, the fitness industry has only achieved 7.9% gym user market penetration in Ireland. Europe Active, have committed to double the number of gym users across Europe to 80 million by 2025. This dissertation aims to investigate the current marketing practices used by the fitness industry and evaluate if they are effective in supporting Europe Active’s goal. This study focuses on women’s perception of the fitness industry and specifically investigates their perception of the body beautiful imagery. The hypothesis of this dissertation is that women will have a greater preference for advertising which does not include ideal/body beautiful imagery in a gym/health club scenario. This dissertation presents an unbiased literature review depicting the different perspectives put forward by various authors regarding self-concept, self-esteem, advertising imagery, exercise motivations and explores women’s relationship with exercise. In order to collect the primary research data both a qualitative and quantitative approach has been taken to validate and contribute to the secondary research and guide the direction of future research, which might better inform in regards to the marketing of the fitness industry. The dissertation analysed the data collected from a survey and provides an in-depth discussion on the results gathered. The main finding of this research is that the fitness industry is alienating a huge segment of the female population through incorrect positioning of itself. In addition the study finds relevance to self-esteem in the perception of advertising imagery within the gym/health club scenario. Author Keywords: self-concept, self-esteem, imagery, media, exercise, body image, social comparison, motivation, advertising, imagery, marketing, self-compassion