How Uses Engagement to Drive Retention at CULT

The health and fitness industry in India was never a marketing game. People choose a gym, sport, or club based on their homes’ proximity or the interest of the inner circle.

But today, a brand like Cure-Fit is adding a system to an untapped market. Akshay Rajwade, the head of Product (Growth) at, explains the challenges of user retention in fitness and how they used engagement as a primary tool to make a change.

We break done some of the best insights below:

An Introduction To Cure-Fit and CULT

Cure-fit is a health and fitness brand whose mission is to make health easier. “Everyone wants good health, but few can achieve it,” said Rajwade, and this bridge is where the solution remains.

Cure-fit is a collection of entities like Mind-Fit for mental health, CULT-fit the gyms, Care-Fit for healthcare, and even a food delivery network called Eat-Fit. Each of these limbs works towards better health and fitness. They hold centres in eight cities, with more than two hundred fitness centres and five-hundred-thousand subscribers.

There are three reasons why a person would not visit a gym: physical difficulty, a slow-burn process, and a lack of motivation. Traditional gyms use these three reasons to gain their one-time payments, but CULT was looking to keep people hooked all along the way.

Breaking the Tradition Using Engagement For Retention

In an attempt to improve user retention, the team at cult started to dig into the data. They studied factors like — workout format, user ratings, discounts, proximity to fitness centers, and much more.

Cult-Fit’s user study found that user retention went up 5 times when they had worked out at the gym within the last 7 days of their membership. This implied that if the user can use your product more, they retain the product higher.

However, the most considerable insight they achieved was user activity. “If people use your product more often, their chance of retention is higher,” said Akshay Rajwade.

CULT later took surveys from the users and noticed that more than 90% of regular users would recommend CULT. Over 60% who left had the intention to rejoin, and only 10% of users did not want to come back to CULT.

They noticed that a long-inactive period was the number one reason for failed retention. CULT then devised a few methods to ensure better retention, using audience engagement as a tool.

Here are a few use cases:

Unlimited Pause For Retention

One of the features launched by Cure-fit was the “Unlimited Pause.” This app integration allows users to stop their gym membership for a fixed duration of time. And return without losing any days of paid membership.

At first, it started as a 30-day pause. However, a 30-day-break resulted in users falling off the fitness radar. They noticed users who remained inactive on the product had hardly returned; since the gap was too much.

CULT decided to fix this issue by allowing 30-break-days, and users could activate them as they like. Cult also asked users to enter the date of return. This practice means the user would have to plan exactly how long they halt and come back.

After “pause” came into play, CULT noticed that more 5X more users started to use the feature. Instead of taking longer breaks, they took shorter intervals, thus keeping 70% of the users coming back to the app.

The data from this change indicated that even if more people took breaks, they took much shorter breaks, which kept them engaged with the app and coming back for more.

The Consistency Challenge For Retention

Everyone understands that exercising is a habit, but not exercising is also a habit. The best way to keep audiences at the gym was to ensure they did not lose the habit of working out. They did this by introducing a consistency challenge.

Users stand a chance to win rewards if they attend class, even a single class, for four weeks a row. This challenge keeps more people at the gyms and ensures they are constantly in touch with the application.

With this practice, they were able to lift the dormant cohort. It is a simple principle of putting people into the habit of using your product.

Fastest Finger First To Waitlist

The term “Fastest Finger First” is popular in the television show Kaun Banega Crorepati. This first round of the game show demanded contestants to answer the fastest. The winner stood a shot at the grand prize.

Booking a class at CULT also became a similar struggle for the users. Unlike conventional gyms, CULT does not have flexible timings. A  first-come-first-serve system is in place for slot bookings.

This race led to rising complaints of the unavailability of slots. Cure-Fit resolved the issue by adding a feature called “Waitlist.” Inspired by the RAC (reservation against cancellation) system of the Indian Railways.

If a class fills up, the user can add themself to a waitlist. If a user who first booked the slot decided to drop out, a user on the waitlist is provided with the confirmed place.

With just this simple change, the confirmation of booking of slots saw a massive spike.

Wakeup Call

Lastly, a recent addition was a notifications/reminder system aimed at early morning class-goers. One of the most challenging parts of fitness is getting to an early morning class.

Cure-fit reduced this resistance by adding a reminder feature. The phone buzzed at a fixed time before your class to ensure you were up and ready to make it. This feature is another simple way in which CULT can enforce the habit of exercising.

Key Takeaways

We can narrow down the learnings from this retention model into three:

Growth Is Hypothesis-based Experiments

Merely looking at data is not enough; a brand needs to find rational insights, address issues, and resolve each perception. Tried and tested models will only provide a few steps of progress, after which each company must run hypothesis-based experiments.

The best way to achieve this is by a qualitative study to see which insights have more merits.

Strong Consumer Products Blend Technology With Phycology

The technological aspects of any consumer product are the ones that take lesser time and effort to resolve. It further comes down to the limited attention of the user. A product that can retain the actions of the user will become a habit in their lives.

Best Insights Are Often Hidden In Plain Sight

Don’t pass on any insight. You can never be sure if wisdom is true unless you test it. For example, the low turnout, or high drop-off, of users in the morning was a clear indicator that CULT needed a reminder system.