The yoga community is growing. More teachers are graduating from teacher training, and more studios and yoga schools are opening all over the world. So, where can one find “blue ocean” opportunities -- untapped market opportunities that are still expanding? This past weekend, Katie Desmond, Yoga Alliance®’s public affairs manager, took part in a panel discussion on this topic at Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley, Calif. Panelists included Nicole Chetaud, consultant at MINDBODY; Amy Ippoliti, longtime teacher and co-founder of 90 Monkeys; and Taro Smith, PhD, co-founder of 90 Monkeys. The group discussed what new or under-served market segments yogis can capitalize on to build or grow their businesses.
Review some tips below that our staff compiled from the discussion.
Tip 1: Focus on beginner students
One of the key market segments identified was the beginner population. As the 2016 Yoga in America Study suggests, there are over 34% of the U.S. population who call themselves “aspirational yogis”, but are not yet practicing, compared to just 11.5% of U.S. residents with a regular yoga practice. This presents an enormous opportunity for teachers and studios to learn how to market to, serve, and retain new students. Working with beginners is not an easy skill to cultivate. However, given the opportunity this presents, panelists suggested that teachers and studios pay more attention to this segment, crafting beginner or new student packages that entice and help cultivate yoga practice as a habit. Nicole of MINDBODY discovered, through her experiences with yoga studios, that a 30-day new student pass is the most effective type of new student package. Allowing a new student to be a part of your studio for an entire month helps them build the habit of coming to yoga class, and allows them to experience and engage with your studio and teachers enough to entice them to come back, even after their new student pass expires. Panelists also recommended offering workshops and series for newer students.
Tip 2: Email marketing works
Self-promotion is often something yoga teachers and studios shy away from, but panelists all encourage cultivating connections via social media and email newsletters. Aside from marketing your upcoming events, Amy Ippoliti suggests sharing information that your community, specifically, would find useful, whether that be recipes, philosophy tidbits, or something else. Amy and Taro started 90 Monkeys, a professional development school for yoga teachers and studios, after recognizing that yoga teachers could expand upon their business and organization skills to better serve their students.
Tip 3: Working collaboratively might open new opportunities
Yoga teachers and studios often feel an enormous amount of competition with other teachers and studios in their community, and as a result insular communities may develop within the studio environment. While, it may not be realistic for studios to giveaway all of their trade secrets, what kind of business opportunities might be available by collaborating on an initiative? YA Public Affairs Manager Katie Desmond reported on successful collaborations of yoga teachers and schools across the country who are working on marketing initiatives such as regional yoga weeks, community events festivals and conferences designed to bring new students and populations to the mat.