A Race to the Wearable Finish Line

At Communispace, we often challenge our clients to walk a mile in their customers’ shoes. Now, thanks to the increased popularity of wearable devices, some companies are quite literally walking with their customers, step by step, mile by mile.

Fitness tracking devices are everywhere. According to a recent Mintel article, nearly 20% of Americans who work out own a wearable device, and another 30% are interested in trying one. If you’re among the 50% interested in these smart accessories, chances are you either own (or have considered buying) a Fitbit. With 69% market share, Fitbit is, without a doubt, the reigning wearable tech champion. But don’t let that number fool you … other brands are quickly playing catchup.

Under Armour, best known for skintight undershirts and compression shorts, is vying to take market share from Fitbit. The athletic apparel giant has spent approximately $710 million in the past year building its own fitness dashboard by acquiring three fitness app companies: MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Endomondo. From its early days as the father of moisture-wicking shirts, to its Olympic venture into high-tech speed skating outfits, and now with its suite of activity tracking tools, Under Armour continues to position itself at the forefront of athletic innovation. CEO Kevin Plank sees huge opportunities in the world of connected fitness. “Today, unfortunately, you know more about your car [than] you do about your own body,” he says. There’s no doubt that his company is putting itself in a great position to change that.

The reigning wearable fitness champs at Fitbit see the opportunities, too. “[The market] is getting more competitive so we felt like it was a good time to step up our game,” said Tim Rosa, VP of global marketing at Fitbit. Armed with a strong brand name and identity that’s synonymous with wearable devices, Fitbit has expanded its product offerings to have devices designed for the serious athlete as well as the casual exerciser. As Rosa says, “[Fitbit] wanted to create a campaign that says fitness is different for everyone, and you can find your own type of fitness.”

The next steps for Fitbit, Under Armour, and all other activity tracking brands are tricky, however. No longer is the challenge about collecting personal data. The wearable tech brands that succeed will be those that can capture and interpret the personal data – making sense of all our steps and calories and interrupted REM cycles – then offering prescriptive recommendations on what this means for each individual. The future of wearables and tracking the quantified self needs to go beyond reporting personal data and move towards providing pragmatic insights based on that data so consumers can move from the so what to the now what?. Consumers are ready to live their best lives – the question becomes, which company will be first to help them realize that this life they’ve been dreaming about can be reality?

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