By Cole Anneberg, Jami Bechard, Chris Kettell and Veronica Soto
Cole Anneberg wrote the following sections: Fitbit Enters the UK, and Find Your Fit Media Choices.
Fitbit was introduced in 2008 at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco. The device tracks the user’s movement 24 hours a day from calories burned and steps taken, to food intake and quality of sleep. The technology is wearable and easy to use, syncing to users’ mobile devices. The mission behind Fitbit “‘is to help everyday Americans get up off the couch, exercise more, eat better and live a healthier life,’ said James Park, Fitbit’s co-founder and chief executive” (New York Times, 2008). Fitbit became the No. 1 fitness app on the Apple App Store in 2009 during its Christmas launch. Since Fitbit was the first of its kind in this new market, it became the leader, selling 25,000 orders during its initial launch. The excitement was global and quickly, Fitbit was sold in the United Kingdom.
Fitbit’s Target Audience
The seven-year old company first launched its first global campaign, #FindYourFit, in the fall of 2014. Up to this point, Fitbit had put significant focus on advertising, and it did not really need to because of its high market share in the activity-trackers category, and its global expansion to 48 countries (Morrison, 2015). The brand highlights these new products: the Charge, the Charge HR and Surge. Fitbit targets each product differently, for instance the Charge is designed for the casual exerciser who wants to track his or her walking distance. On the other hand, the Charge HR and the Surge appeal to more serious fitness fans and performance athletes.
A huge theme for this globally-focused campaign was customization. As Tim Rosa, global marketing director said, “We wanted to create a campaign that says fitness is different for everyone, and you can find your own type of fitness” (Morrison, 2015). Fitbit first chose the UK to market and sell its new smartwatch, the Fitbit Surge, because its value share currently sits at 83 percent. Vice president and general manager Gareth Jones said, “We have seen exceptional growth over the past year and our continued focus on awareness and expansion across Europe has helped Fitbit become a top brand in the connected health and fitness category in this region” (Fitbit, 2014).
Fitbit in the Industry
Companies such as Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have introduced their own version of straps and gadgets that collect and analyze ever-increasing types of data, including users’ steps and their sleeping patterns (Merced, 2015). Fitbit acknowledges that fitness is more than a passing trend in the industry. Consumers still remain interested in tracking their health, and even more so when it is through devices strapped to their body. In a letter to prospective investors, the company’s founders James Park and Eric Friedman wrote, “Over eight years ago, in early 2007, we started Fitbit with the vision that sensors, data and amazing software could transform the way people think about health and fitness” (Merced, 2015). The company stands to have a strong brand name and profit within the industry. According to SunTrust’s analyst Robert Peck, the company controls an 85 percent market share in the U.S. However, it’s dominance is not limited to the United States, Fibit has already expanded itself internationally in six more markets, one being the UK. To date, Fitbit has become a growing leader in the health and fitness market in the UK with a value share of 83 percent in Q2 sales of 2015 (Fitbit, 2015).
Fitbit differentiates itself from competitors by highlighting new and unique features on all its devices. For example, Fitbit entered the UK market with various devices such as the Fitbit Surge in October 2014. The Fitbit Surge has the most features available on the market including smartwatch abilities. This is one of the only trackers that include music control while at the same time it can sync up with your smartphone to deliver you social media and text/call notification (Kurimski, 2015).
Other trackers include Nike+, Jawbone, Pebble and many more. While other trackers may look like a Fitbit, they do not compare to its style, fit and functionality. Fitbit is known for having the latest programs, such as the multi-sport recording, GPS tracking and wireless syncing. Every Fitbit tracker delivers an outstanding performance by going beyond the usual calorie/step counters that are on the market. The outstanding performance goes hand in hand with its innovative technology. The devices offer up to eight built-in sensors, strap-free heart monitoring split screen comparison and smartwatch capabilities. They have the latest, cutting edge technology to make life easier (Wear action, 2015). In addition to its performance and highly innovative technology, the pricing selection is reasonable, ranging from the Zip at 49.99 to the Surge 199.99 pounds. To say the least there are options to spend a little or a lot, depending on the individual’s budget.
Fitbit’s Expansion and Advertising Launch
By 2014, Fitbit was sold in 48 different countries and available in 40,000 locations. Also by this time, competitors had entered the market including Jawbone, Nike, Apple, Garmin, etc. However, Fitbit still reigns as the category leader, with 69 percent market share in 2014 (Ad Age, 2014). Yet even with this leadership position, Fitbit felt it was time to launch its first big advertising campaign in 2014. Rosa, at Fitbit said, “We feel like the category is maturing, so the time felt right to launch a brand and product campaign. It’s getting more competitive so we felt like it was a good time to step up our game.” Argonaut, a San Francisco-based agency, created the #FindYourFit campaign. The campaign included media buys internationally in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The campaign was featured on both digital and traditional platforms.
Fitbit Enters the UK
Fitbit sought to mimic similar brand-oriented marketing messages in the UK market. Striving to be a leader in health and fitness stores, Fitbit used television and online video ads to advertise its product with the hashtag #FindYourFit (Youtube, 2015). The big idea of these ads was to advertise to a variety of consumers participating in varied athletic performance. The #FindYourFit campaign was a 30 second commercial featuring over 20 different sports and physical activities. Typically, Fitbit has used television to advertise its products in the United States. With United States’ consumers being quite similar to that of UK consumers, Fitbit has been quite successful with deploying these same ads in the UK market (Hofstede, 2015).
The UK’s population demographics illustrate the country’s current capacity of 63,800,000 citizens. Of these citizens, 41 percent are in the age bracket of 25 to 54, with the remaining age bracket’s making up the rest of the 59 percent (Index Mundi, 2014). Fitbit’s marketability as a fitness product catered for individuals could point to why this product has been successful in the UK market. Speaking to fitness, the UK holds a 26.9 percent rate of obesity as of 2014, only 7 percent shy in comparison to the United States (Index Mundi, 2014).
Understanding that the United States’ political and business environments are typically similar in nature to the UK’s, this product was similarly marketable. With the UK being an unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, this market values a society that plays fair in terms of power distance (Hofstede, 2015). Fitbit marketed its products to a variety of individuals in the United States, where a similar measure of power distance is found. Therefore, Fitbit modeled its marketing tactics in a similar fashion. Likewise, the United States and UK both value individualism (Hofstede, 2015). Fitbit offered a variety of products in more than 7 different colors and styles. This variety speaks to Fitbit’s attempt to market individualism in the health and fitness industry.
Find Your Fit Media Choices
Media choices for Fitbit’s products are diversified over varied channels. With a combined 71.3 percent of $27,300,000 media spent on cable and network TV in 2014, it’s clear that Fitbit aimed its advertising to television and online video audiences (Redbooks, 2015). The remaining 28.7 percent was spent across magazines, internet and Spot TV. Fitbit’s advertising speaks mainly to the individual fitness levels of consumers. The company also employs marketing within varied social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. The brand’s social media breadwinner, Facebook, has used content marketing, workout narratives and meal-planning to allow for an average engagement of 10,850 interactions (Redbooks, 2015). With this level of engagement, Fitbit has been successful with generating conversations on related topics of supplements, individual workouts, etc. Additionally, the #FindYourFit ad was mirrored on social media with Fitbit regularly posting content related to the product for its users to engage with.
Fitbit Integrated Marketing Communications
When people think about health focused smart devices, Fitbit is top of mind for consumers in brand positioning (Copernicus, 2015). People have questioned why it took Fitbit so long to go global in the past and the purpose of their timing to enter eastern markets (Copernicus, 2015). The response from their marketing manager, Tim Rosa, was that the market was becoming more competitive, so Fitbit decided to “step up their game”(Copernicus, 2015). Also, Fitbit felt the product category was maturing, so the timing was just right.
Fitbit sells a total of seven products in a wide variety of colors and sells product accessories also. The core of the products is motivation, empowerment and feedback. The tangibles of the products are flex wristbands, clip ons and zip clips ons. Some product features include the tracking of your steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, sleep monitoring, and wireless syncing to devices. The augmented part of the products is the online community, a 365 day warranty, 45 day return policy and the great customer support (Fitbit, 2015). Some improvements have been suggested by consumers in the UK for the products such as: additional colors, larger displays, more features, tighter clasps. These suggestions by consumers help Fitbit keep a competitive edge over competitors and to keep its leadership in market share for wearables (Wear Action, 2015).
While Fitbit continues to expand in the European area, and the UK specifically, its marketing strategy has been to take advantage of TV and web delivery models. Fitbit plans to establish the presence of three products to the UK specifically (Copernicus, 2015). Those products are the Charge, the Charge HR and the Surge. The charge is marketed towards people who are casual exercisers, while the Charge HR and Surge are marketed toward serious fitness fanatics and athletes.
Fitbit plans to advertise during soccer matches in the UK to reach a large audience because that is the most popular sport in the country (Ad Age, 2014). As Fitbit became global, their focus was on increasing awareness of the product and brand in Europe and the UK. Fitbit made sure that their messaging and packaging remained consistent with their website theme. The consistent message Fitbit wants the consumer to grasp onto is their dedication to helping people lead healthier, more active lives (Fitbit, 2015).
Fitbit has the largest market share in their category, which is partly due to the company’s pricing. Fitbit’s products range from 49.99 to 199.99 pounds, which is significantly lower than competitors such as the Apple watch and Nike products. Fitbit uses these competitive prices to reach a greater audience than their competitors, such as the Apple watch (Ad Age, 2014). Fitbit rarely has offered discounts, but offers bulk pricing for corporations, which has been very successful. Bulk pricing has been successful because companies want to promote healthier lifestyles outside of the workplace and offer employee benefits such as Fitbit products (Redbooks, 2015).
Fitbit products can be purchased on their website or may be found in many different retailers in the UK. The retailers in the UK are: amazon.co.uk, Argos, Currys, Firebox, John Lewis, Llodys pharmacy, PC World, Tesco, and M&S (Fitbit, 2015).
Throughout our research, our team has found that Fitbit’s introduction into the UK market was wildly successful. In the UK over the past year, the connected health and fitness category grew by 321 percent as new competitors grew internationally. However, Fitbit dominated the market, growing 531 percent (Fitbit Investor Information, 2015). One of the main drivers for this growth is the UK’s continued appreciation and focus on health and wellness. The #FindYourFit campaign eloquently demonstrated how the average person can become an active athlete. The campaign’s theme was perfect to highlight the UK’s diverse market. The message highlighted how all kinds of fitness, from dancing to running to biking to swimming to playing, can all be excellent sources of health and wellbeing. This stimulated an emotional chord with the UK market to engage and excite the market to get up and get active. The media mix was also well developed for this area, focusing on television, which is still seen as a great tool and credible source for information for consumers in the UK.
One thing Fitbit could have done differently would have been to produce unique videos for various regions. For example, the U.S. campaign could have included people participating in a yoga class in Central Park in New York. Then, the UK campaign could have shown runners jogging past Big Ben in London. These small changes could have made a larger impact, showing how Fitbit is used in the local areas. Even without these changes, Fitbit still made a great impact on sales and brand awareness.
Throughout our research, our group still would like to understand in more detail exactly when Fitbits were sold in the UK. Since Fitbit was a small startup during its initial success, there is not copious information about how the international expansion began and the company’s decision-making. However, our group has inferred the decision-making process and feel confident in our analysis.
The Fitbit has claimed international fame since its official launch in 2009. As the consistent market leader across both the U.S. and UK markets, Fitbit has garnered strong brand awareness and steady sales because of it. Competitors across the category cannot seem to surpass the Fitbit’s brand staple. This product has established necessary conversations around the globe to put more focus on fitness and health every single day.
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