Digital Ecosystem for World Class

The case with World Class, perhaps the most well-known fitness club chain in the CIS, holds a special place in our portfolio. On this project, we helped the client lay the foundation for a product that has no analogs on the market yet. And it would not have been possible without close collaboration with the client at many levels, from small teams assembled for specific tasks to top management and company shareholders.

"The final product led to a large-scale restructuring of World Class's internal processes, and its creation was absolutely impossible without the full teamwork of both parties and constant exchange of ideas, experience, and knowledge", — Nikolay Pryanishnikov, CEO of World Class.

Request: digital transformation

The key input that started the preparation of the concept was World Class's strategic goals for the next ten years.

It was clear that digitalization was one of the client's top priorities. World Class wanted to move a large part of its business processes into the digital environment. So, our task was not only to bring the client's ideas to life by working on the brief but also to come up with the concept of a new product, relying on existing tools within World Class and taking into account the specifics of the fitness chain's work, traditionally represented mainly offline.

How we came up with the solution

The first major stage of the project was consulting: a large preliminary study that helped us select and approve the concept of a new digital product. The main task of this stage was to find an answer to the question of how World Class can live and develop in the digital environment. Or, more globally, to form a strategy for developing client digital services for several years ahead.

"We needed to thoroughly test the applications of competitors, find out what the industry expects, identify the most effective practices. But the main thing was to understand how people do sports, how their habits changed with the onset of the pandemic, and what they want to see most in an online service", — Irina Makarova, Head of Project Management Department at red_mad_robot.

At this stage, our CX  team joined us. They provided a large research to define the requests of the World Class client audience.

After that, we held the first workshop with the client - a large online meeting of teams. It was dedicated to discussing the requests of the World Class client audience, identified by us in the previous stage. Looking ahead, while the product led to a large-scale restructuring of processes within the client, it is still largely a B2C story.

It became clear that the overall picture in the fitness services market is changing. And it is significantly different from what it was in 2018-2019.

"In Russia, the fitness services market still hasn't returned to pre-COVID levels. There are many reasons for this, from the growing popularity of online classes, which many got used to during self-isolation, to inflation and increased expenses. The total revenue of the Russian fitness market for the first quarter of 2022 increased by 4.9% compared to the same period in 2021, while gym attendance and club card sales grew by 6.4% and 5.2% respectively. But these figures are still lower than in 2019, and revenue losses amounted to 6.2 billion rubles. According to the National Fitness Community's estimates, the fitness market in the country shrank by 40% in 2020-2021" Konstantin Kolotov, Director of Financial Sector red_mad_robot.

To achieve their strategic goals within the decade and improve their performance, World Class needed to evolve quickly.

The key idea: the framework for this evolution is a digital ecosystem of services

A digital ecosystem is a collection of services, devices, and other products that a company supports and develops. They are seamlessly integrated into a unified network of organizational and technological processes. This ecosystem is an effective tool for establishing a technological foundation for business development, its "exoskeleton," which is exactly what we needed. The ecosystem penetrates all business processes and links them together. It offers the following benefits:

- Enabling comprehensive process management.

- Increasing the value of the product for the customer.

- Allowing for customization based on the user's values and tasks.

- Penetrating different aspects of their life, from nutrition to socialization.

The big idea behind the World Class Lifestyle ecosystem is to transform the customer experience, service, and the company itself. Thanks to this concept, World Class can become an integral part of the life of someone who wants to take care of their physical and emotional health. And taking care of oneself can become a simple, interesting, and natural process.

Based on collective discussions, we decided that the ecosystem should achieve the following goals:

- It should be a "digital hub" that provides access to all services, making it easy to navigate the products.

- The focus is not only on sports activities. World Class's ambition is to become an integral part of the life of anyone who strives to take care of both their physical and emotional health. At the center of everything is not just activity, but wellbeing - a careful attitude towards all aspects of one's state.

- Platform flexibility: World Class employees should be able to manage part of the ecosystem's functions themselves and modify some of its components.

- Maximum accessibility and hybridity - the ability to interact with clubs and receive services at any time and any place. Both online and offline.

"Our ecosystem touches all aspects of our clients' lives that are related to wellbeing. It's not just about visiting a fitness club and working out, but also social spheres, lifestyle, hobbies, and connection to physical and medical indicators. Therefore, our clients can include not only club members, but also anyone else. Obviously, they can achieve their goals not only in clubs, but from anywhere in the world at a time convenient for them", Eugenia Kostina, CMO of World Class.

But in order to successfully create, develop, and implement such a complex project involving dozens of employees, it was necessary to organize the work properly. 

How we structured our work

It became clear during the initial meetings that implementing the ecosystem was impossible without a global transformation of World Class's internal processes. Its employees - from marketers to fitness club administrators - would need to work differently, use new tools, and even think differently in some sense. In order for digital transformation processes to take place in World Class, certain changes needed to happen within the company, otherwise, many things would not work as intended.

But any changes often encounter understandable resistance within companies. How can employees and stakeholders embrace new business process principles if they are not sufficiently informed about why these principles are needed in the first place? Why should we abandon old ones? What exactly is the new concept?

That's why we held another joint workshop: we needed to quickly outline the changes to World Class business processes, prioritize them, and develop a common understanding of the overall approach.

We needed an approach that fully involved both us and the client in all processes of developing the new ecosystem. World Class immediately got involved in the work: top management and shareholders participated in the workshop.

Given the scale of the project, we needed to work on internal business changes with short, predictable iterations. Agile is ideal for this, and World Class ordered training for its employees in its basic principles. This simplified communication between teams.

"The ecosystem had to launch in a MAP — Minimum Awesome Product — state, a practically finished product, rather than a beta version for limited testing of core functions with a view to further development", Natalya Arlyapova, Project Manager at red_mad_robot.

Working on a new application

The updated World Class application became the foundation of their digital transformation, and that's where we started.

Our teams had at least three calls per week, not counting shorter ones for urgent tasks. World Class provided our team with subscriptions to train, communicate with trainers, interview network employees - all to better understand the client, user requests and employee feedback, and identify key problems and challenges. 

The final product must:

  1. Significantly improve the customer experience and engagement. This can be achieved by creating a first-class UI, implementing new engagement mechanics in World Class' online and offline services, and by launching the product onto the market with the right strategy.
  1. Be scalable. The technical architecture and the Backend for Frontend concept must be implemented.
  1. Help Light users who use World Class services irregularly transition to Regular - regular customers.
  1. Make access to club services hybrid: customers should be able to visit the club and also workout remotely through video materials or with a trainer.
  1. And most importantly - maintain digital customer profiles: aggregated data on workouts, their types, frequency of visits, on which the system could recommend the most relevant services to customers. This idea largely determined the design of the final product.

Opportunity to choose a suitable goal is essentially the first thing that a user sees when they install the new World Class app on their smartphone. There are currently five goals available:

- Weight loss

- Muscle gain

- Wellness - balanced development and strengthening of the entire body, improvement of quality of life and reduction of stress levels

- Health strengthening - improvement of quality of life through increased muscle tone and overall well-being

- Sport & Recovery - a comprehensive approach to the training process

For each of these goals, the World Class content team has created a video on our mood board. By watching it, the user can understand what workouts and activities await them on their path to their goal, and make the appropriate choice.

After selecting a goal (only one!), the user immediately receives a set of recommendations for services and workouts (known as a starter pack) and can sign up for a trial session right away. Trying to lose weight? Try a workout at the gym or in the pool. Want to strengthen your health? Enjoy the spa, massage, and more.

This concept is a win-win scenario, benefiting everyone. The user experience becomes easier and more seamless. The new approach allows them to focus on what's important, without having to search the internet for the type of workouts that burn the most calories. They simply state their goal, and the system offers the most suitable options.

"In essence, with just a couple of screen taps, the user can filter out the services that they are not currently interested in. If they want to develop endurance, they are unlikely to be interested in stretching workouts, no matter how attractive the conditions may be. This is much more convenient than choosing an activity from an extensive list of offerings", — Anastasia Smirnova, Creative Director of red_mad_robot.

But World Class also benefits from this goal-setting concept. It allows us to quickly and efficiently systematize the company's catalog of services. We can immediately offer a proposal to the client that interests them most. Furthermore, it enables us to study our clients and adjust the product to meet the specific needs of individuals, thereby further engaging them with our company.

And it also has the ability to learn about its customers in order to then adjust the product for  the specific needs of each individual, thus further involving them in its functionality and, consequently, increasing the frequency of club visits. Moreover, the recommendations, while dependent on the goal, can represent absolutely different types of World Class services: that is, if the user chooses a muscle mass set, the system can still recommend massage or stretching workouts to relieve muscle tension.

This helps the client to develop harmoniously and in multiple directions at once, while World Class increases the number of promoted services.

The key feature is the "Activity Ball"

This is the user's digital profile, which visually displays their activity. The more you exercise, the fuller the ball is filled with colors. If you forget about workouts for a while, it will "deflate".

Each type of workout has its own color. Wellness is green, muscle mass set is burgundy, and so on. So the ball is colored with the colors of the corresponding activities.

The balls of all clients will be formed differently. For those who focus on cardio and endurance development, the ball will be predominantly red. For lovers of water workouts - blue.

“Inside the activity ball is a complex mathematical model that takes into account a multitude of factors at the same time. For example, the regularity of workouts, not just their quantity. If a client was in the gym four times a week, but then skipped four days the next week, the ball will become less filled”, — Julia Tyo, Art Director of red_mad_robot.

That's why our activity ball is not just a tool, but also a motivator. Looking at the bright, filled ball gives you satisfaction from having had a productive week. 

One of the main challenges in creating and calibrating the activity ball was the inability to immediately verify its accuracy. That's why we tested it in World Class fitness clubs: we attended workouts and then checked the calculations in practice. 

By the way, all activity ball calculations are done in the backend, which is unusual for such projects where usually everything is calculated on a smartphone. 

Choosing a goal and tracking activity through a convenient ball is just part of the functionality of the new app. As intended, it has become a convenient hub where you can access any World Class service in just a few seconds:

  1. Book a workout. You can even choose a specialist - each of them has a profile with a photo and a list of services in the system. Payment is also available directly in the app.
  2. View the schedule of classes and procedures at any club and immediately sign up for your favorites.
  3. Buy a club card or freeze it.
  4. Get information through an extensive FAQ and ask a question through a feedback form.

This wide range of functionality helps the client avoid calling call centers or going to fitness club administrators, no matter what their question is. Why bother when everything is at your fingertips?

"The design of the app is minimalistic and quite strict, with recognizable details of the World Class brand and spirit. We use a lot of images taken with trainers in clubs and during workouts in the design. They set the right mood, motivate and engage in the workout process, which is an important component of the brand and the face of World Class. We prioritize communication more, which strengthens the connection between the club and the user and makes their experience more personalized", — Anastasia Smirnova, Creative Director of red_mad_robot.


"Our app has been launched and the described features are already available, but we're not stopping there. We already have a plan for further improvements that will make the product even better and more user-friendly. In future versions, the activity tracker will take into account even more factors - for example, regular visits to fitness clubs, not just specific workouts that align with users' goals. The most dedicated users will be thrilled to be able to add their own workouts to the activity tracker", — Dmitry Samoylov is the CIO of World Class.

Together with the client, we came up with the concept of a digital ecosystem, which currently has no analogues on the market, and are gradually implementing it, starting with the mobile app. This is the foundation of the ongoing digital transformation of World Class's business.

We successfully launched a new product - the mobile app - and introduced it to users. We set up product analytics and gathered initial feedback, which will help us improve the product in the future. Fitness club clients have received a completely new user experience, and World Class has gained new tools for business development.

We helped World Class restructure existing business processes, moving many of them from offline to online and creating new ones. For each fitness goal, World Class can now create appropriate training programs and content for their clients. Catalog management has also changed: new services and products will be immediately ranked according to clients' goals within the app - this is handled by a separate team. We developed a performance index and implemented a system of digital analytics. The company has started working with user feedback in a new way: a pyramid of metrics has been developed - indicators that enable World Class to make timely decisions.

Digital transformation is almost always a slow and a challenging process, especially for such a large company. It requires the restructuring and reorganization of many familiar business processes, changes in relationships between employees, and in some ways, stepping out of one's comfort zone. However, in today's reality, it is a necessary step that will allow the business to develop and keep up with the times.

By launching version 3.0 of the app, World Class made a leap in a new direction and laid the foundation for significant and large-scale changes.

There is still much work to be done, but we are confident that these changes will be for the better: they will allow the company to maintain its leadership position, make it more flexible, and provide clients with a unique user experience.

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