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How Grupo Marti Grows in the Mexican Sports Market

Emilio Trabulse Amor, marketing director of Marti Group, talks about the challenges and trends in the Mexican sports market.


What: Emilio Trabulse Amor, Marketing Director of Marti Group, talks about the challenges and opportunities his companies face in the Mexican sports market.
Why it matters: The Martí group is a significant player in Mexican sports, both from a consumer as from a sports marketing perspective. The group comprehends the Martí stores which were launched in the thirties, Sport City clubs (gyms), Emoción Deportiva, an organizer of sports events, and the Smart Fit gym brand, which was brought to Mexico through a strategic alliance with Brazilian group Bioritmo. Within the sports market, the group has managed to maintain a leading position.

Portada: What trends can you identify in the Mexican sports sector?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWyAAAAJDBhMmE0ZDc1LTZiMjUtNDZjMy04OTRhLWQ5ZDIzYzliY2U4NgE.T.: “In Mexico nowadays being healthy and feeling good is “in”. There is an increasing amount of people who exercise more for conviction rather than necessity or because the doctor said so. A few years ago, if a friend was going for a run on weekends, I did too. Not anymore. There is an increasing number of Mexicans practicing sports, feeling well and looking good. ”

“This is where our concept of “deporteismo” started. We have a country where 80% of the population is Catholic. Based on this, we see “deporteismo” as a religion, because sports imply sacrifices like getting up early or stop partying. Sports can also be related to commit a sin: if you eat more than you should, your punishment will be to get up early to train and run one kilometer or more. That is the whole concept. ”

Portada: How does this “exercise trend” change the way Grupo Marti markets its  products and services? 

E.T: “It is much more complicated now because competition has grown. Customers want to exercise anywhere and they change their gyms (clubs) a lot. In the case of Sport City, it is more difficult to generate loyalty: to have clients who claim to be devoted to Sport City and to stay there. Now customers have more choices. The increasing competition is an issue and has forced us to offer different things, to innovate. On the one hand, it makes it more difficult to achieve growth, things difficult to grow,  but on the other, it helps us popularize  the fitness culture something increasingly more common. It’s not that difficult now to tell people they should do exercise.

Portada: How do you generate engagement among your prospects and customers?

logo-deportes-martiE.T.: “The starting point is to offer customers relevant things. Not everything is for everyone. If we think that anyone will become a member of Sport City and will want to do the same exercises, or that they will enter the Martí store and want to buy the same things, that is not the case. That is why segmentation plays an important role: Offer people what they are looking for. Be relevant”

“Digital media now allow us to generate content around the sports industry but in a segmented way, so that each one can focus on the niches they are looking for, through communication and relevant content. Moreover, we have the in-store experience or in-club experience. Provide your clients a positive experience; give them results so they can see it as an investment rather than a cost. The most dangerous type of customer is the one who pays the membership but does not go to the gym, because the following month he will no longer pay. The most important customer is the person who goes daily and is loyal because he or she would hardly leave Sport City.”

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Portada: Who is your biggest customer?

mzl.lvkuvwlcE.T: “In the case of Sport City, we need to target people between 25-28 and 45-50 years old, because they have some financial and job stability. They understand that every month they have to make an investment and have the means to do so.

Someone between 25-35 will possibly tilt more towards functional training, as there’s currently a CrossFit boom going on. We’ve launched Extreme Workout, which is our own version of functional training.

Young people are not interested in getting on a treadmill or an elliptical there and spend 40 minutes or more doing the same. They prefer to join communities or teams to exercise, as in functional training.

Portada: And, what about Martí stores?

E.T.: “Marti has positioned well among people of 35 and older. Our goal is to radically lower the age range and engage millennials, who are now growing and have decision-making and increasing impact on the economy. We have a huge opportunity area to appeal to that segment. A substantial part of the outreach is digital.”

Portada: What is your online-offline marketing mix?

E.T.: “When we set our guideline, we try to make a comprehensive strategy and try to find a balance between online and offline. We work 70% offline – 30% online to leverage our website, and grow online sales.We are aware that we must increasingly become more digital, but we need to do so through a strategy, not only to have a piece of the pie. Even though it is relevant to increase the number of followers on social networks, by generating engagement with those who follow you is how you earn the most. This is achieved by being relevant and not only with content. Offers also count. But you must have a good balance between sales and communications.”

Portada: What lessons have you learnt?

E.T.: “In BTL related topics, we’ve learnt that carrying out activations in certain locations depending on where we have a club is not enough. The investment we made versus what we got back through sales did not work. Here the message is if we are being specific in our promotion zones that does not mean we will have more success.
We are still not sure about what failed. We are still analyzing if the communications were not relevant or enough, possibly we got lost just like any other flyer of the many people receive daily.”

Portada: What are the challenges ahead?

E.T.: “The main challenge is to preserve our position and innovate. There is an issue with Martí, which although it is a well-positioned brand, it is certainly starting to look outdated. It is a brand parents used to buy but it has no appeal among younger markets. In the short-term, Martí needs to lower the age of the people who buy the brand in the short-term and stop being the “parents ’shop.” The long-term challenge is to be a love brand. In the case of Sport City, we seek to remain on the aspirational level, not the unreachable, as a premium brand but still innovating. We have to follow the trends and whenever a new sports trend arises, we have to be there and ready to offer it in our club.”



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