Skip to content
Decorative: technology signals consolidation in the coaching marketplace. Image Description: low-angle photography of building interior

Understanding consolidation and disruption in the global coaching marketplace

Industry leaders reveal how the coaching marketplace is being shaped by changing consumer needs and technological capacity.


Many coaches have been slow to adopt technology that has become standard in other helping fields


Early adopters of coach tech are using technology to reach new audiences and support engagement


Practices that offer digital services have a competitive advantage in the coaching marketplace

Wisdom Weavers

Coaches are beginning to adopt technologies that will transform the coaching marketplace

In the not-so-distant past, coaching primarily took place in person. Coaches would meet with clients on-site or in their own office spaces to provide coaching services. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic presented the industry with a sharp technological learning curve as the world transitioned to videoconferencing services, pushing coaches to explore online alternatives.

According to a 2021 Global survey by the Henley Center for Coaching, between 2019–2021, nearly 98% of coaches had some exposure to online coaching, and 43% were primarily offering their services online. Of those who provided regular online coaching, coaches reported a preference for videoconferencing applications Zoom and Teams, while nearly half of coaches were using additional apps to supplement online coaching through video calls. With coaches returning to in-person delivery post-pandemic, the 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study reveals that 91% of coaches intend to continue mixed delivery using video coaching in the next 12 months.

Digital coaching leaders have also been working to integrate new tools and services that measure coaching impact, support on-demand learning and development, engage clients between sessions, and integrate organizational goals. Digital coaching providers who can offer diverse services have a strong and growing foothold in the professional development market, signaling potential market consolidation for online coaching services. While smaller coaching businesses will likely continue to offer in-person presence for clients who prefer face-to-face engagement, others can translate those digital skills gained during the pandemic to integrate new technologies into hybrid offerings.

Market disruption in the coaching field can signal positive change

Market disruption is often associated with challenges like increased competition, market consolidation, and a gig economy setup. However, this does not necessarily mean fewer opportunities or lower wages for coaches. In fact, the gig economy redefines the landscape of jobs and industries and aligns with the coaching profession’s flexible and dynamic nature. In a consolidated market, coaches still have choices. Coaches can choose between joining a major company as an internal coach, working as full-time staff for a large platform, or even designing their own startups. Organizations also have options: They can choose in-house coaches, contracted coaches, or a blend of both support systems. Coaches can also benefit from the flexibility of a freelance setup, such as those coaches with profiles on The site functions as a directory of coaches, where coaches can create their own landing page, and clients can search for specific coach demographics, expertise, or services that best meet their needs. Freelancing allows coaches to prioritize their lives to fit around other roles, such as other job opportunities, continuing education, and caregiving.

Coaches now have the opportunity to expand their practice through online services. The coaching marketplace allows coaches to build their own practices by applying several coaching models:

  • Fee-for-service: coaches offer a range of services, including in-person or online delivery and coaching chatbots for between-session support
  • Retail model: coaches create on-demand libraries with online courses, books, and reflection exercises for purchase
  • Subscription model: coaches host a website for clients to access tips, workbooks, or other tools
  • Bundling model: clients to mix and match services

Understanding fears around chatbots and platforms

Perceptions around AI vary across the coaching industry. The ICF Global Coaching Study reports that only 34% of coaches believe AI will disrupt the industry, and only 29% predict any benefit for their coaching business. With the emergence of coaching chatbots, some coaches fear being entirely replaced by cheap AI alternatives. Wisdom Weaver Rosie Evans-Krimme, Director of the Innovation Lab & Behavioural Science at CoachHub, likens the transformation of the coaching marketplace to the fashion industry: “There was the Industrial Revolution where the launch of new technologies sped up the process of manufacturing clothing, reducing the cost of production. This is a useful comparison to coaching today, where we have these technologies and increasing accessibility. The clothing sector saw the rise of fast fashion due to increased new technology.” Rosie hopes the coaching industry can avoid a low-quality, high-output form of coaching similar to what emerged from fast fashion. She asks: What kind of fast-fashion outcome might also apply to the coaching marketplace, and what lessons learned from the fashion industry might help coaching adapt?

Coaching platforms, often seen as disruptors, are not fundamentally changing coaching; they simply are reframing how coaching functions in the marketplace. While coaches may fear that if emerging technology is not adopted, the industry will change without them, the pandemic demonstrated their ability to adopt emerging technologies and to pivot within a shifting market.

The trend toward coaching platforms places new pressure on the industry to update coach training and practice

The rise of “digital only” coaching practices like coaching platforms and apps reflects a growing demand for online coaching delivery. However, digital-only delivery has its limitations; important visual cues like body language and physical props may be hard to translate in a virtual environment. The growth of coaching platforms, with their vast networks of coaches, calls for updates in coach training and practice. Wisdom Weaver Jonathan Passmore from EZRA Coaching explains: “We’ve moved from solo providers or small-scale companies of three, four, five, or a dozen or two-dozen coaches who are working in a fixed geographical territory to now coaching platforms that are employing thousands of coaches. So, how do you recruit coaches? Should we just rely upon the qualification of that individual? Do we need to look for other factors?”

Jonathan anticipates that coach training programs will need to create alternative training services and qualifications to support these new platforms: “In my view, the response is for coach training institutions and professional bodies to adapt and grow services for alternative qualifications and digital coach training needs.” This means, coach training institutions and professional bodies must respond by preparing coaches to translate coaching techniques to a digital environment. This shift ensures that coaches remain well-equipped to serve clients effectively in a tech-driven world.

Technology as a competitive edge

Other factors that emerge from market disruption are increased competition and potential consolidation. Technologically advanced coaching platforms are emerging onto the scene, creating a diverse marketplace for clients to choose from a variety of coaching services. Wisdom Weaver Anke Paulick observes, “There is a stiff market-making competition to be one of the two leading coaching platforms.” In regard to potential growing pains and market disruption, Anke hopes coaching platform consolidation moves quickly so coaches are not stuck in a scenario where there are twenty platforms in each market, competing and lowering coach wages.

Coach tech startups and major platforms have made a disruptive impact in the market because they can offer personalized coaching services and track client data to help clients visualize and understand their progress. Anke relays, “I would hope for a good scenario where classical coaching houses adopt enough technology to survive with their good and solid coaching approaches. Were two or three platforms to survive and also invest in modern technologies, they would be able to run the game actively without being in a perpetual mode of competition.” For Anke, a good scenario would be for the remaining few platforms to integrate human and AI coaching in innovative ways, leaving their clients enough flexibility and freedom for what they use and control. Coaches who do not adopt technology may struggle to retain a competitive edge in the market.

Coaching platforms are utilizing technology to serve organizational clients in new ways

While some fear technology will irreversibly disrupt the coaching marketplace, the breadth of coaching platforms available for both coaches and clients is not necessarily a negative development. Coaching platforms are one example of leveraging technology to create better coach and client experiences. Rosie admits that when working with organizational clients through CoachHub, “Sometimes the first conversations are a bit fear-based. Internal coaches often worry that technology is coming to replace the work they’re doing, but that is not what we at CoachHub are here to do at all. Virtual coaching or external one-to-one coaching providers are another piece of the puzzle.” As coaching platforms partner with organizational clients, coaches take on new strategic impacts through the market shift of these new services.

While the current focus remains on the technological development of coaching platforms, implementing these technologies still requires foresight and planning. Rosie and her team at CoachHub work with clients to develop their coaching strategy. They ask clients how digital coaching fits into their current coaching ecosystem: “How can we help educate and engage with the stakeholders who will register or nominate coaches for this program? What does this practice look like? There is a wealth of opportunities to support organizations to embed and integrate this technology into their ecosystems effectively.” Rosie adds that working with an organization’s learning and development and human resources departments are key factors to include, along with integrating internal coaches.

A Call to Action for Coaches

While face-to-face coaching remains valuable, changing technologies offer new opportunities to provide flexible and personalized coaching through online services. The coaching landscape is evolving through emerging technologies and coaching platforms. Coaches can carve out the practices and livelihoods that best suit their needs. We encourage coaches to explore how digital tools can benefit their clients’ growth and expand coaching access to a wider audience. As a practical call to action, coaches can:

How can you leverage emerging technologies to not only enhance your coaching practice but also to transform it into a more impactful and adaptable service for your clients?

  • Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about emerging technologies and how they can enhance your coaching practice. Consider enrolling in courses or workshops to stay up to date with the fast-changing technologies.
  • Enhance Your Services: Explore ways to incorporate technology into your coaching offerings, whether through online coaching, AI chatbots, or on-demand resources.
  • Stay Flexible: Embrace the dynamic nature of the coaching landscape. Be open to adapting your coaching practice to cater to diverse client needs.
  • Experiment and Innovate: Test new technologies and coaching models. Innovation can lead to breakthroughs in the coaching profession. How can you push the boundaries of what coaching can achieve in the digital era?

Learn more about how coaches are experimenting with online tools to augment their coaching practice:

Back To Top