When we look ahead, it seems clear that the fitness brands of the future will not just make physical products, but will be embedded in the consumer journey in ways that will help keep people motivated and maximize their enjoyment of sport. By putting these two pieces together (digital fitness platform and world class physical products), you can build a new kind of fitness brand that has a deeper, more trusted relationship with consumers and can engage with them in a more personalized way.
Asics’s acquisition follows on the heels – no pun intended – of Under Armour’s purchase of MapMyRun, and the rollout of its “Connected Health” platform. For Asics, as for Under Armour, it’s no longer enough to sell moisture-wicking tee shirts and distance running shorts. Exercise apparel firms must gather better, more holistic information about their customers – where do they buy their sneakers? how long do they run? do they log their exercise? – and also foster a community (as well as advertise and data-mine) in the process. As I’ve written:
It’s clear that Under Armour plans to use this data, somehow. I doubt that we’ll don sweat-sensing shirts that sync with your iPhone anytime soon, but the more data UA has about what people buy, and how they use it, the more targeted products – and advertisements – it can roll out.
It’s compelling to see gear and apparel companies jumping into the very ship Nike abandoned when it scuttled the Fuel Band. But the latter likely left the space because it couldn’t dominate it, and because it saw more benefit in partnering with Apple. My question now is: will New Balance step in and buy beleaguered FitBit?