behavioral science

Reflective Moments

A New Year Marketing Strategy for Run Specialty Retailers and Events

When I was 39, about to turn 40, I made a bucket list. Climbing Everest was even a consideration.

I went as far as creating a 24-page Life Empowerment document. I went back and reviewed my life guide, something very personal to me, as I was writing this. In my immediate goals section, I had a goal to lose 19 pounds. I don't know why I chose 19, but my why was - " To improve my health and to get more energy because of what I have to live for." I had outlined four steps:

  1. Change eating habits
  2. Join a gym
  3. Workout 8 times in January
  4. Workout 12 times in February


I'm not alone. People reflect on their life and set big goals when their age ends in a 9. This behavior is so predictable that psychologists coined the term nine-ender - a term from Adam Alter and Hal Hershfield

Many nine-enders take extreme steps to change their lives, like setting a goal to run their first marathon. Data from showed that nine-enders are more likely to enter marathons for the first time than other age groups.

January is the busiest month for gym signups, which is why you see Planet Fitness sponsoring Times Square's iconic New Year's Eve Celebration. Data from a marathon study conducted by my company, Upper Quadrant, showed 25% of the registration in the reflection period.

Retailers and Race events can leverage these reflective moments to drive sales and registrations.


Retailer January emails and digital marketings campaigns should focus on inspirational messages, not products. People are looking to make a life change, and you want to be part of that journey. Our marketing performance data demonstrates that inspirational and training program campaigns deliver a significant Return on Ad Spend ($6 to $30 ROAS).

Race Events

Whether marketing a community 5K race or an Ultra Marathon, capitalize on this reflection moment to drive registrations. You want to focus on people setting goals with an inspirational message. For the New Jersey Marathon, we used the theme Flat & Fast. This theme appeals to new runners, why make your first marathon harder with hills and goal-orient runners who wish to qualify for Boston.

You get the added benefit of small groups planning their group race calendar. We call this the Starbucks Effect - the group of dedicated runners who gather at Starbucks every morning before or after their group run.  They are social runners and tend to travel to races. They plan their group race calendar in early January.  Focus on a theme unique to your event - challenging, fun, or destination.  

If you produce multiple races, create a race calendar and promote your entire calendar between December 26 and January 30. You can even offer a bundle or race pass promotion - incentives for signing up for more than one race.