Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of the biggest trends in the business world right now. More and more fitness businesses are getting in on the accountability action. Here’s a closer look at what corporate social responsibility is, why it matters so much, and how today’s gyms, health clubs, and other fitness businesses can use it to their advantage.

The 411 on CSR

“Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental,” explains Investopedia. 

In other words, CSR means integrating the well-being and betterment of society and the environment into everyday business practices. 

Why It Matters

CSR matters because it makes the world a better place. However, it also makes sense from a business perspective when you factor in that more and more consumers are prioritizing supporting socially responsible organizations. In fact, according to a study by Cone Communications, 87 percent of consumers say they’d purchase a product because a company supported issues they cared about while more than 75 percent of consumers would opt out of making a particular purchase if a company behaved in ways that were contrary to their beliefs. 

Says Cone Communications Executive VP of CSR Strategy Alison DaSilva, “[American consumers] are looking to companies to drive change on the issues they hold dear. Now, consumers are no longer just asking, ‘What do you stand for,’ but also, ‘What do you stand up for?’”

CSR and the Fitness Industry

When you think about it, the fitness industry and CSR are a perfect fit. After all, the former inherently supports a healthier planet. But today’s customers, and other stakeholders too, including everyone from investors to employees, are looking for something more: true social purpose. 

Group of children participating in a yoga class.

Planet Fitness is one well-known example of CSR in the industry. The fitness behemoth’s Judgement Free Generation Initiative, aimed at spreading kindness and preventing bullying, was recently honored with a Gold Halo Award, North America’s highest honor for organizations making a difference in their communities through social and cause marketing projects, for its excellence in social services. 

“As the home of the Judgement Free Zone®, we have witnessed the amazing things that can be accomplished when people feel accepted and like they belong. We are committed to giving back by extending this philosophy of kindness and inclusion beyond our clubs to the youth in our communities, and would like to thank our franchisees and partners for their dedication to this mission. We believe that together we can and will empower the first Judgement Free Generation of youth,” said Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau in accepting the award.

In return for its efforts, Planet Fitness can also expect something from its members: loyalty, which translates to sought-after member retention. According to a recent IHRSA piece, the health club industry usually falls far short in the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a tool that measures how likely customers are to recommend a business to a friend. CSR can help boost trust and raise your business’s NPS. As such, insists Cone Communications director of marketing/research & insights Whitney Daily, “CSR is not a fad, a trend or ‘nice to have.’ It’s a business imperative that must be authentic and seamlessly integrated into brand value propositions.” 

The good news? Embracing CSR doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing enterprise. It starts with something relatively simple, in fact: knowing your values and how they can be put to use in your community.  

Of course, CSR isn’t the only way to build member loyalty. Also important? Meeting the wants and needs of your members with wearable technology, which consistently tops the list of fitness business trends.  Request a demo today to learn more about what Accuro can do for you.