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Two brand manufacturers of fitness apparel and gear—one a veteran, one a relative newcomer to the market—have made big moves toward wearables in recent years. Nike, whose Nike+ community is rounding the home stretch of its first decade in existence, and Under Armour, which has made several app-related acquisitions, are both looking toward wearables as a bridge to community and engagement.
After posting higher-than-expected earnings in early February, Under Armour’s stock rose—also on the heels of the announcement that the manufacturer and retailer was acquiring Endomondo and MyFitnessPal, two health tracking-related services. In December 2013, Under Armour had acquired MapMyFitness, and is now adding to its empire to build “the world’s largest digital health and fitness community.”
In July 2014, Chris Glode, general manager at Under Armour, explained to eMarketer: “The opportunity for us is to take the data that we can get from those devices and create engaging experiences on our mobile apps. A big part of our focus is to help our brand partners engage on wearables as well.”
Commentary in Forbes pointed out one potential danger in such a move: It may make perfect sense for a clothing company that serves athletes (and aspiring athletes) to want health and fitness data on its target audience, but how will fitness app users react to their data in the hands of a very different brand than the one they initiated a relationship with?
If this is, as Forbes suggests, a problem inherent to the “quantified self” movement, it’s also a key issue in wearables overall, since fitness trackers accounted for 60% of all Android wearable Bluetooth devices in use in the US as of February 2014, according to Nielsen. Health and fitness tracking is popular even without wearables, and consumers tend to consider it the most useful thing wearables can currently do. And many marketers and retailers recognize wearables as a potential source of lots of new data, though it remains unclear how consumers will respond.
Research from Rocket Fuel found that self-trackers were used somewhat more commonly by women than by men, and 58% were ages 25 to 44. This included users of both wearable and nonwearable, app-based or web-based tracking solutions.
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