New year's resolutions on yellow reminders

The Business of…New Year’s resolutions

Business principles are prevalent throughout almost all industries that impact your life. We decided to take a look at how business leaders implement these principles in their companies and how academic experts explain the impact business principles have on the decisions business leaders make.

From real-world practice to years of study, our experts break down the business of everything you’ve wanted to know about. This month, we start with something that an estimated 60 percent of us make, but only about 8 percent are successful in achieving – New Year’s resolutions.  

The business leader

In 2019, the majority of people made New Year’s resolutions that focused on health, fitness or nutrition. In fact, according to a study, diet or eat healthier (71%), exercise more (65%) and lose weight (54%) made up the top three of the most popular New Year’s resolutions last year.

Chris and Carlee Marhefka

Chris and Carlee Marhefka

Carlee (BAE ’10, MEd ’11) and Chris Marhefka (BSBA ’08), founders of Eat the 80 and B3 Gym, see this reflected in their business, with an uptick in clients during the month of January. Some of this drive comes from specific marketing the UF alumni do that’s focused on people who make New Year’s resolutions.

“Many people are already searching for options to improve their health and wellness around that time, so we aren’t attempting to change people’s behavior, simply bringing awareness that we are a great option to solve their problem,” Chris Marhefka said. “We understand our clients’ pain points and we market in a way that presents the solution to that.”

While studies show that many people tend to give up on their New Year’s resolutions about two weeks in, around January 12, the Marhefkas have built their programs to keep people excited about coming back.

“Our programs are designed for healthy habits and long-term success, not a get-fit-quick gimmick,” Chris said. “Most clients that sign up for New Year’s resolutions are staying long after January 12. We have a proven process for health and fitness and they can see that in our other members, this leads to greater motivation to stay committed because they see results are very possible!”

For the Marhefkas, setting realistic expectations, rather than strict resolutions, is how they say their clients see success.

“The idea of a day where people are motivated to change their lives is a positive idea,” Chris Marhefka said. “However, we have that opportunity to change every single day, 365 days a year. There is nothing special about January 1, so start with one small action today.

When you live a life in alignment, you never worry about resolutions because you’re living your best life every day!”

The academic expert

Like the Marhefkas, business owners first need to recognize if they have a product that people are likely to consider for their New Year’s resolutions, like those related to health, fitness, nutrition, or other popular categories like financial discipline, skills or hobbies, relationships or self-improvement, suggests Clinical Professor of Marketing Dr. Steven Tufts.

Steve Tufts

Dr. Steven Tufts

“The first thing marketers have to understand is if they are in one of these potential New Year’s resolution categories,” he said. “If so, can they quickly share a message that differentiates their product from the other products out there? It’s critical that marketers be there when people make the decision to pursue a New Year’s resolution and have a differentiating message. Otherwise, they will get lost in the noise.”

Another critical piece business owners have to keep in mind when marketing their businesses around New Year’s resolutions is their audience and their current financial, physical and emotional mindset.

“Marketing messages have to recognize that many people have a ‘holiday hangover’ of sorts and may be in need of a detox,” Tufts said. “Consumers may be financially strapped from the holidays and have likely been eating, drinking and sitting around a lot. The message should keep this situation in mind, but make consumers realize they need to take action.”

Another message Tufts suggests business owners consider is around short, attainable goal setting rather than firm New Year’s resolutions.

“Studies have shown that people are more likely to keep their goals if they write them down and share them with an accountability partner,” he said. “A stronger message for marketers would capitalize on this idea of goal setting, and that even if people fail at keeping their New Year’s resolutions for the entire year, they can still make some progress, achieve a few goals, and possibly position themselves for more longer-term results.”