The Power of Boutiques – The Specialization Factor

Published: April 13, 2016

The Power of Boutiques – The Specialization Factor

In a presentation we recently gave at the 2016 IHRSA International Convention entitled, “The Power of Boutiques: Leveraging the Power in a Traditional Club Setting”, one of the powers we highlighted was specialization.

In her book Riches in Niches, author Susan Freeman said, “No matter what or whom we’re talking about, from movies to chiropractors to books to financial planners, the consumer hankers after specialization.” Well, that hankering for specialization also extends to the world of fitness, and is one of the forces fueling the appeal and growth of boutique fitness studios.

So why is specialization such a powerful and influential force?

  • For a fitness business it allows you to target specific customers, and just as importantly, specific needs of different customers. By honing in on one product or experience, it affords the operator the ability to do it better than anyone else. Walt Disney said, “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” Specialization speaks to doing it well, actually phenomenally well!


  • For consumers they perceive specialization as a badge of expertise. Consumer’s regard those who offer specialized experiences as having a level of knowledge and experience that exceeds that of a business that does many things. They believe that with specialization that talent is more focused and better qualified.


  • Consumers associate specialization with passion. Consumers perceive that the people who offer specialized experiences love what they do, and consequently it lends an air of inspiration to the experience. As Walt Disney said, “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” This implicit belief speaks to the passion that is associated with specialization.

If you want to leverage the power of specialization you first need to find it. Kevin Stirtz, author and strategy manager may have summed it up best when he said, “Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” Finding this perfect junction of what the consumer wants most, and what your fitness business does best is not easy. It requires an open mindedness about your businesses’ core capabilities, and a willingness to use market research to explore what your customers want the most. The failure to explore your customer’s desires, combined with a closed-mind about your businesses’ core capabilities, are the surest way to failure when it comes to leveraging the market power of specialization.

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