As Apple gains, Fitbit strives for comeback with new marketing push
The holidays are around the corner, and Fitbit is racing toward them with a new product, service and marketing push in a bid to regain the financial health it once enjoyed. The fitness-tracking company, which began selling smart watches two years ago, is releasing the Versa 2, an updated version of an earlier watch design, on Wednesday. The company is also introducing a $9 paid monthly subscription service of health-tracking options, which executives hope will provide a more dependable revenue stream.
“We want to move away from being looked at as a device company,” says Tim Rosa, chief marketing officer for San Francisco-based Fitbit. “We want people to be on Fitbit, as opposed to having a Fitbit.”
It’s a distinction made clear in the brand’s new marketing campaign. The work, which is Fitbit’s first in two years from former agency-of-record Argonaut, positions Fitbit’s watch as a do-anything device that can stall meetings, count calories and even serve as a topic of conversation on first dates. The “What else can it do?” campaign will include global TV spots and digital video. The budget for the campaign is similar to other product launches, Rosa says, without disclosing specifics.
“In all of the campaign materials, we leaned into showcasing the surprising ways you can use your Fitbit and the surprising things it can do,” says Hunter Hindman, founder and chief creative officer at Argonaut, which was AOR to Fitbit for more than three years. In 2017, amid struggling sales and staff cutbacks, Fitbit transitioned its marketing to a mix of in-house production and project work. The reunion with Argonaut does not include the AOR title, however, though the agency is handling more work following the new campaign, Rosa says.
“We’re in this position to tell the story that we feel is relevant to consumers around the world,” he adds. “We introduced trackers.”
Fitbit may have been first with trackers, but does not lead the category in smart watches. The Apple Watch has seen sales soar; the company reported sales of wearables, home and accessories increased 49 percent in the most recent quarter, compared with the year-earlier period, to $5.5 billion. In contrast, Fitbit recently lowered its full-year guidance, despite a 5 percent uptick in second-quarter revenue to $314 million. The brand has lost 52 percent of its share value in the last 12 months as investors have pulled back.
Still, the new offerings could help the brand gain ground, specifically as it enters the subscription space. The new Versa watch includes a connection with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant as well as with musical service provider Spotify. The subscription will incorporate user data from exercise and sleep to offer more personalized recommendations.