Yoga is one of the most practiced forms of exercise globally, and it is only growing in popularity. A 2017 survey from the National Institutes of Health found that one in seven Americans practiced yoga within the past year, and a separate report showed that more than 55 million plan to start by the end of this year.
The accessories, classes and workshops involved in yoga can be expensive, however, discouraging many from taking up the practice. The average U.S. yogi spends $62,640 on such costs over his or her lifetime, and this barrier could stand to be reduced, Jessica Thompson, founder and CEO of yoga mat eTailer Yogo, told PYMNTS in a recent interview. She believes BNPL options could be key to getting more individuals into poses.
“People are used [to BNPL solutions],” Thompson said. “They’ve seen [them] before and they trust them, so I think it just facilitates their checkout experiences to give them numerous options — because there can be sticker shock.”
Yogo partnered with Afterpay last year to begin offering customers financing options, she noted, and the experience has so far been positive. Introducing BNPL options has also given the company insights into younger consumers’ shopping habits, including how to market to this growing customer base.
Pose now, pay later
Yogo manufactures yoga mats made of biodegradable tree rubber that fold into the size of a water bottle for portability. The company has explored unorthodox payment methods since it launched in 2014, previously introducing PayPal and cryptocurrency options. Offering BNPL solutions has made customers much more willing to invest in yoga mats, Thompson said, something many are reluctant to do due to high-quality products’ perceived costs.
“People think of yoga mats as a durable good,” she explained. “They save up for them, they consider [the purchase] carefully [and] they site compare. For some reason, they frame [buying a yoga mat] in their minds as something they have to consider carefully, because they feel guilty if they haven’t worn out their old one and they think of this item as a big investment.”
BNPL options can help break down this mental barrier, allowing consumers to spread out the costs over time and making them much likelier to complete their purchases. Customer feedback has largely been nonexistent, which is good news in Yogo’s case because it indicates the purchasing process was so easy it did not provoke any reactions.
“I know how they shop because they communicate with us directly and I answer their questions all of the time,” Thompson said. “[BNPL solutions are] so frictionless [that] no one ever talks to me about it. They just use them, so I’ve never seen any communications about it and that’s a really good thing.”
These transactions have given Yogo an intimate understanding of its primary customer base, which largely consists of younger consumers. Their preferences for BNPL solutions result from several factors.
Why younger customers embrace BNPL options
Millennial and Gen Z consumers are avid BNPL solution users, with a recent study finding that 67 percent of the former use these services while shopping. Thompson attributed this trend to their emphasis on frugality and their interest in maximizing each purchase.
“Millennials are thriftier, according to my experience,” she explained. “They want a lot of stuff, and they would rather invest in a few things that are really nice and they’re typically on a budget. For [example], the millennial demographic loves thrifting and … to buy used products.”
Thompson said this desire stems from several factors, the largest of which is a simple lack of spending power among younger consumers. Research from Northwestern Mutual supports this observation, as Gen Z consumers carry an average of $14,700 in debt. Forty-five percent of consumers from this age group feel guilty about said debt on a monthly basis, driving them to use BNPL solutions rather than taking on more traditional credit.
“They have a lot of financial concerns, [including] debt, [making] affordability a big problem for them,” Thompson said. “[BNPL options] make that burden a little bit easier, and they’re attracted to them.”
Younger consumers’ BNPL solution use mirrors their love of affordable travel, she added. Nearly half of Yogo’s orders come from individuals preparing for trips or those asking for mats to be sent directly to their hotels. Shipping costs to said hotels are often an obstacle when making online purchases, but BNPL options help defray those costs over longer and more manageable periods.
“This kind of checkout product supports [younger consumers’] ability to ship international, so it’s definitely a good fit for wanderlust individuals,” Thompson noted.
BNPL solutions are common across a range of industries, including yoga and travel, and younger consumers are growing into their spending power. Their focus on convenient digital payment plans that help them afford their purchases without accruing additional debt is only increasing such payment methods’ reach. That means their shopping preferences — including BNPL options — could soon become the norm.