I went to CES to visit the fitness and health area. I have been coming to CES for over 27 years. The show has changed drastically from terribly geeky products to terribly geeky products that billions of consumers covet!
Here are my five observations on the CES show.
1. Personalized running shoes are all the rage, but, where is the low cost, reliable technology? I saw two new shoe brands in Las Vegas, but both shoe were the secondary part of the equation, and the personalization technology was key. Until the shoes are great, this personalization will not be a major player.
2. Wearable technologies, some are good, some are really bad. Again, see number one. The tech may kick butt, but until runners find a reason to use said technology, anything more than a GPS watch is going to be considered to be complicating a simple activity.
3. Sports Security area is growing. With the continued growth of terrorists considering sports events and venues, the security companies that do industrial intelligence are looking at the sports area. Watch this area, as there will be applications for running events, running stores, single schools, etc.
4. Big footwear brands believe that they must have sports tech and apps. Under Armour has spent a reported $800 million in sports apps. Yet, while the product is getting better, it is still not a key player in the running business. Footwear is rareified skill set. UA makes apparel that no one can match, yet, it still can not make equally excellent footwear. If the apps are not helping you sell running shoes and apparel, or building a community that will need your brand footwear and apparel, why are you doing it? I have tried many brands social media, and social running apps. I use one, Nike running. Why? Because it is simple as hell, and I can run, walk, daydream. I know what it is like to run 120 mile weeks for a dozen years. I remember that obsession, which I loved, at the time. Technology is supposed to add to the activity. If it complicates the activity, no matter how well meaning, runners will move away from it, going to the next cool thing. At the end of the day, if you are a shoe company, make shoes, and find bespoke options for sports technology that fits into your brand culture.
5. Recovery and Sleep applications next big thing. But, keep it simple. If you can control all of these things from a watch type device, then, you have a chance. But the more stuff you need, the more education you need, you are cutting your pool of consumers by 80 percent. Think about it. Most 14-25 year olds are using Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook is all but abandoned by anyone under 25, except for training groups.
If you can convince the coaches and trainers that recovery and sleep are important, then, reach the high schoolers and club runners through their coaches. Unless they are convinced, they are not going to use your application or wearable.