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The Problem of Building Loyalty in the Market of Fitness Club Services Under COVID-19 Pandemic

Student: Anna Mozgovaya

Supervisor: Efim Galitsky

Faculty: Graduate School of Business

Educational Programme: Marketing (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2021

In the context of high interest of citizens in a healthy lifestyle the Russian market of fitness club services was growing rapidly until 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic announced in 2020 dealt a devastating blow to it and the fitness industry was included in the list of the most affected ones. In the situation of a sharp decline in the revenues of fitness centers the problem of building current customers’ loyalty is of particular importance. This investigation is devoted to identifying factors affecting the formation of loyalty in the market of fitness club services under COVID-19 pandemic. In the study the key theoretical aspects of the term loyalty and the main methods to measure it were covered and, taking into account the specifics of the market studied, the most relevant method to measure it was selected. Based on the analysis of the previous studies, as well as the study of changes in the market of fitness club services and in consumer behavior caused by COVID-19, the main aggregated loyalty predictors which formed the basis of the practical research were identified: "Price-Quality relation", "Staff attitude", "Location", "Ensuring safety by fitness center" and "Following safety measures by others". Through the interviews with consumers a final list of 13 value judgements, aimed at measuring 5 proposed loyalty factors, was formed. Based on the developed list of judgements using the Google Forms service a questionnaire was developed, which was filled by 349 respondents. The main method for analyzing the collected data chosen was Structural Equation Modeling. The results of the study showed that only two of the initially proposed factors have a significant positive influence on customer loyalty to fitness centers in the context of COVID-19 - "Price-Quality relation" and "Following safety measures by others". Based on the developed model of loyalty drivers, a list of practical recommendations was formulated for companies in the market of fitness club services on ways to increase customer loyalty.

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