Jaime Cooke is the Founder and mastermind behind SPN, a new brand bringing big city fitness and wellness to the suburbs to empower and educate local communities and help them lead connected, happier, healthier lives. Prior to SPN, Jaime was the founder of highly successful fashion brand ‘Muks’, selling in high end department stores around the world and made famous on celebrities such as Kate Moss, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.
We met with Jaime to learn:
- How SPN has achieved such great success so far in what has become a highly competitive national market.
- The “magic moments” that add up to deliver the SPN experience.
- The challenges of translating Spin, Yoga, Barre and Pilates into the digital world.
With 3000 members in Tunbridge Wells alone, you’ve built a substantial customer base in a very competitive market. What’s enabled you to carve out such a strong position on this local basis, and could it be replicated elsewhere?
I think the key has been our understanding of the audience. These are people who began their careers in London before having families and moving out of the city. They’re still looking for that little slice of London, but they want it on their doorstep. From our specialist Spin, Yoga & Barre instructors to the beautiful environment, everything about SPN needs to reflect the high-end fitness experience they would have been used to in the capital. From the second they step foot in the reception area through to the moment they leave, every detail is considered.
There is another key component to our model. So in London, the one thing that tends to be missing is a sense of community as the audience is so transient. Whereas in a town like Tunbridge Wells, it’s small enough for people to build real relationships. Whether at the school gate or in a local cafe, you’ll bump into your workout partners all over town which really adds to the social dimension. We work hard to foster this sense of community within the overall brand experience, as we know how important it is for our demographic.
In terms of whether this formula can be replicated in other locations – absolutely! It’s just a question of finding places that satisfy the necessary demographic and geographic criteria. This is why we’ve chosen Sevenoaks for the new site. It’s a really similar demographic, albeit slightly younger, so while we might tweak the offering (a few more pre and post natal classes, for example) the fundamental experience will remain unchanged.
How is Covid-19 affecting your model?
There’s no question that it’s creating challenges in the short term, but it’s also highlighting the need for what we do. There’s never been so much emphasis on health and wellness, and people are desperate to get out of their house and experience a bit of normality again. In fact, last week we re-opened our booking system and we’ve already had 75% of Spin class space booked, not to mention countless emails sent in from members saying how excited they are to see everyone and get stuck back into their training!
You’ve talked about there being key moments that define your customer experience. Can you give some examples throughout the customer journey and explain why this consistency is so important?
For a brand like SPN, every moment has to be considered:
- The moment you walk in there are scented candles. In fact, we worked with a candle supplier to come up with a bespoke scent for our brand. It’s citrusy and energising. People walk in and say “Ooh, I’ve missed that smell!”
- Then there’s the music – we always play the same kind so that as soon as they arrive they can begin getting in the right headspace.
- Before the class they’re given a sweat towel, and at the end we provide a wet face cloth with eucalyptus, mint and essential oils. We keep these wet in the fridge so they’re really refreshing!
- Before their workout – whether Spin, Pilates, Yoga or Barre they can order a smoothie, which is then ready for when they leave and has their name on it, just like at Starbucks.
In isolation, these are small details, but they add up to create the overall brand experience and distinguish SPN from any other local competitor.
How do you translate this into a digital experience? What are the challenges that presents?
That’s something we’re learning at the moment. There are lots of things we’re doing, particularly in terms of digital content generation, but there’s no question that it’s a challenge as you cannot control the customer experience in quite the same way as you can offline.
We’ve just launched a 30 day programme which includes educational videos for both nutrition and exercise, and we place our instructors at the heart of this as they’re the human embodiment of the brand. Crucially though, we combine these digital assets with physical items; for example, when you sign up you receive a pack that contains a journal, resistant band and measurement tape. These tangible items not only add value in their own right but also elevate the perceived value of the digital offering.
The most important thing, however, is that we use these digital channels to reinforce our relationship with our core audience. There’s a temptation due to the scalability of digital to assume that the world is your audience, and it may well be in time that we do expand our targeting geographically, but for now this is all about strengthening the experience for our existing customer base.