For many in the fitness industry, Fitbit has become a household name. However, just over a decade ago, Fitbit was nothing more than a wooden box. Since that time, they have risen to become a $4-billion-dollar company and a major player in the wearable technology market. This has left many to wonder: what’s their secret?
Fitbit has made a name for themselves by tracking personal data for their members. Whether it be related to sleep, exercise, or several other areas, they are tracking it. As a company, Fitbit is the best at making the data work for them. As we review their business model and the success they have found, remember that all it takes is a good idea and a lot of data.
An unlikely story
In 2007, James Park and Eric Friedman saw potential for using sensors on small, wearable devices. Apparently they weren’t the only ones. After receiving $400,000 in funding, the duo took the idea to the TechCrunch 50 conference in hopes of garnering attention and hopefully pre-orders.
When they set out, they hoped to get 50 pre-orders from that first conference, but ended up with 2,000. A year later, they were selling 20,000 units and realized that they had something working. As they continued to sell new products, Fitbit was able to evolve into the company you know today by taking risks and getting involved in new technology.
Making data work for you
One of the main reasons for Fitbit’s success has been due to their leveraging of user engagement metrics. Since Fitbit users are almost always wearing their product, Fitbit has a unique ability to track the movements and patterns of their customers. By using this information well, they have been able to create better products and deliver better results than ever before.
Unfortunately, this kind of data tracking has put them in hot water as well. For instance, they have been accused by members of the government of tracking users data to sell to third-party companies. While Fitbit has denied these claims and put in measures to tighten security, it’s a good reminder of why handling customer information of this nature needs to be done carefully.
Exercise and activity
Exercise and daily activity is one of the metrics that Fitbits track for their customers. This can help them to better understand themselves and the way their body behaves in order to make decisions on what activities to pursue. Although it started with just a pedometer, modern Fitbits can track heart rate, calories lost, and more.
Food and weight
Fitbit also let’s their customers track their weight and what food they eat each day. Along with activity and exercise, this can give customers a good idea of where they are in their fitness journey and where they would like to be. By using this information to their benefit, Fitbit can make recommendations and even help customers see areas they need to improve.
An underrated but essential part of staying fit is sleeping well. Fitbit knows this and makes it a focus of their technology, as Fitbit allows you to track sleeping behavior as well. Not only can these help users to better understand their habits, but it can help notice unusual behavior like sleep apnea. This kind of data can actually save lives.
The success of Fitbit
Although they have had their ups and downs, Fitbit has been able to continue to be successful as the wearable market has taken off. In fact, Fitbit still maintains close to 20% of the wearables market. The way that they have done this is through smart evolution and practical partnerships that allow them to special their products for a variety of different scenarios.
Using data from their users, Fitbit sees how their product is being used. From these use cases, they can create either new apps or new products that best fit the scenario. This should be a sign to other businesses: listen to your customers. Fitbit has been able to remain relevant throughout the Apple watch years simply by letting their data work for them.
While the number of users fluctuates, Fitbit has 25 million active users currently and with recent acquisitions plans to continue to expand this number. Considering that just ten years ago the company was hoping to get just 50 pre-orders, this is an impressive feat.
Fitbit’s revenue model is relatively simple, as their main source of revenue is simply from selling their products. However, in recent years, Fitbit has established new partnerships in the healthcare industry, hoping to diversify their product line and open up new pathways for revenue to come in.
As wearables continue to rise in popularity, we likely haven’t even seen the peak of Fitbit yet. As more users come on, the more data that Fitbit has to work with in order to keep up the good work and help more of their customers. Their story is one that should be taken to heart when remembering why we track data and what it means to live in a data-driven world.