Consumer Pulse
- Fitness is
fast becoming a
brag-worthy
social currency
in Sri Lanka
Ruwan Algewattage

While going through your Instagram feed, have you observed how ‘fit-fluencers’ are trying to woo you with their online coaching discounts, healthy eating habits, newly launched activewear brand or with their in-home training tips?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about Gwyneth Palthrow’s green juice diet or Jacqueline Fernandez’s headstand techniques. Rather I’m talking about how @Zurifitnessofficial works out in his own active wear brand ZF, or how @gaiakodithuwakku goes beyond a personal coach with the intention of connecting women to their untapped power & potential or @nattymusclesl pictures and his transformative clients. This is only a trace of what is happening. You look everywhere, listen to your lunchroom conversations; fitness and wellness is slowly creeping into our lives and social media is the key catalyst of this movement.Every day, these ‘fit-fluencers’ are collecting an intangible value to their social media presence, apart from what they really earn.
There is a concept in working behind this phenomenon and social media experts call it “social currency”. The term “social currency” addresses the digital exchange of entertainment and information as an incentive to attract users, guide their behaviours online & ultimately boost engagement to influence your followers with more options.

Using this social currency, any die hard fit-fluencer will tell you, living well doesn’t come cheap these days. They will promote a number of online coaching programs, fashionable activewear, accessories, supplements, Keto diets and superfood outlets - all of which come at a premium price.

With this, wellness has become a huge part of our daily social interactions, in many different ways. Firstly, and perhaps most pointedly, it has become a status symbol. People feel like they’re part of an elite group with a common purpose, forming meaningful bonds irrespective of location, age or profession. Fit-fluencers are leveraging on this status. Everyone wants to get on this bandwagon, to feel part of this brag-worthy phenomena – the new form of social currency.

What does this mean to the local brands and businesses?
The Sri Lankan consumer is now beginning to treat their body as an ecosystem, looking for ways to enhance their personal health. Thus, traditional market dynamics will no longer hold true, as consumers seek more personalised solutions that are in line with their nuanced health and wellness needs.

Interestingly, we start to believe that gym is a better social gathering space; the gym is becoming the best “club” in town where the fit conscious are aspiring to reach their desired body shape & fitness levels. “Bro, do you lift?’ is really becoming a buzz phrase, a sign of the rise of spornosexuals in Sri Lanka. As a result, gym has become a hotspot for many wellness brands.
Another manifestation of this trend is the plethora of options available to us when it comes to selecting activewear. As a result, one no longer has to rely on expensive international active wear brands.

Thus, all mainstream brands need to understand that the evolution and expansion of the wellness consumer audience demands a shift in how we communicate as a whole. The best way to sell a new pair of workout leggings requires more than a poetic verse about the high-tech performance capabilities of the fabric and design. It requires telling your audience about specific product benefits. For instance, does it have special benefits for Yoga enthusiasts, or whether the fabric is sweat resistant.

Moreover, mainstream brands are being challenged by unconventional boutique brands, who find their foot print with these social media followers. Its slow, but definitely happening!
And not to forget, the notion of advertising is changing. You start to realise the value of using these fit-fluencers to promote your brands and the impact they create within their 30k-50k follower base.
As such advertising is becoming an interactive two-way communication.

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