The amazing Fitbit success story is a case study that all business owners can learn from. Success did not come to Fitbit by luck or accident. It was the result of great products, great business strategy, and clever partnerships. It started with one man’s desire for fitness, and has grown into a global community of people who are united by their common goal: being as fit and healthy as possible, even within the constraints of very busy lives.
The first pedometer, the “Manpo-Meter,” was invented in 1965 and encouraged people across Japan to walk 10,000 steps per day.
Pedometers, however, were slow to catch on in the USA until one digital entrepreneur got fed up with his sedentary lifestyle and decided to do something about it.
“I had been working like crazy at startups over the last three years and really let myself go in terms of fitness,” Fitbit co-founder James Park explained as he described what motivated him to invent the Fitbit.
As a result, Park and his partner Eric Friedman developed the first wearable fitness tracker – called the Fitbit, which was released in 2008. It was just what America needed to get up and get moving.
Within four years, Fitbit owned 67% of the activity-tracking marketplace, and by 2015 had sold 21.4 million devices before going public the following year.
Fitbit’s dominance was short lived, though, thanks to the release of Apple’s Smart Watch in April 2015. In addition to tracking fitness activity, the first-generation Apple Smart Watch provided users with the ability to talk, text, and make wireless payments.
How Fitbit Competes with Apple and Samsung
Fitbit continues to survive in the highly-competitive wearable fitness tracking industry by using niche marketing strategies.
In 2017, the company began focusing on technology that provides exceptional medical features in its fitness tracking devices. In the same year, Fitbit launched its own version of a smartwatch, to keep up with competitors such as Apple and Samsung.
Fitbit now caters to hospitals, patients, and health insurers by addressing four major conditions:
- Sleep disorders including sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular health
- Mental health
In addition to carving a niche within the medical industry, Fitbit’s marketing strategy relies on community-building. Its website provides users with ideas and inspiration for improving wellness, along with virtual and local fitness activities to encourage participation.
Fitbit’s marketing strategy focuses on building a niche and catering to an audience that fits it. Fitbit founder and CEO James Clarks insists the company is now unfazed by its competition. In an interview with CNBC, Park stated that the company has a community of over 50 million registered users who position the company as a strong competitor in the industry.
How Fitbit Continues to Grow in 2019
Fitbit continues to grow and expand with new developments that cater to its niche audience. For example, the company recently partnered with Amazon’s Alexa to provide features such as:
- 24/7 heart rate tracking
- Sleep scores
- Additional apps
Fitbit’s premium design and Alexa features, plus a free 3-month trial of Fitbit Premium, were included in its launch of the Fitbit Versa 2.
For Fitbit, the choice to develop a niche within its industry has proven successful.
Competing directly with Apple and Samsung would have put many companies out of business. Instead, Fitbit chose a more narrow category and developed a marketing strategy to cater exclusively to people interested in improving their health.
Choosing a Niche Market Helps Businesses Succeed
There are several lessons marketers can take away from Fitbit’s success story.
- Pay attention to trends and implement them, like Fitbit did with its own smartwatch release in 2017.
- Fitbit’s marketing strategy focuses on carving out a narrow market within a specific industry, and creating the best product for that niche.
- Instead of matching Apple’s growing list of features on every new release, Fitbit creates medical technology that competes with, and in some cases outshines, what Apple and Samsung devices can do.
- By encouraging users to take part in activities and providing information and support, Fitbit creates a loyal community that is eager to learn about new releases and features.
- Targeting a specific type of audience allows brands to narrow their focus. This focus provides an opportunity to excel in areas where bigger brands may not be as strong.
Businesses can learn from Fitbit’s story, as it noticed a gap in the industry and filled it with a quality product.
Thanks to our Guest Author, Emily Clark
Emily Clark leads The Manifest’s emerging technology research and writing efforts. As a Content Developer, she is responsible for designing research that helps business buyers learn about and determine the best fit for their business services needs.
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