Why everybody wants the Nike+ FuelBand

As you might already have noticed by now, one of my big interests is IT, especially new developments and trends within that area. Just so happens, that in my spare time I like to do many kinds of sports and being physically active. So one of my sweet spots really is anything where sports and information technology connects. Sadly, at present only a few products are located at that intersection. However, there is one product that recently created a lot of buzz: Nike+ FuelBand. To get an idea what it is all about, take a look at this short and well done marketing video.

After stumbling upon the Nike+ FuelBand at the beginning of this year, I did some research and decided to buy it. Sure enough, at the time of the first online presale I was sitting in front of my laptop, clicking on the “buy now” button like a crazy person. Apparently I wasn’t fast enough in typing in all my information because the product was out of stock again as soon as I was hitting “submit”. This gave me the time to do some more research and to look at reviews. And all of the sudden it stroke me:

Why do I actually want to buy the Nike+ FuelBand so badly, given that I don’t really need it and everybody says it is overpriced ($149)?

Turns out that Nike did a brilliant job in marketing and positioning the Nike+ FuelBand! Here is why I think so:

  • Featured on Nike homepage
    Since a couple of weeks, every time I go to the Nike website, the FuelBand is featured. If you go to nike.com, you will see that it is almost impossible not to take notice of the FuelBand. Doesn’t Nike have tons of other great new products?
    –> Poeple get the intuition that Nike+ FuelBand must be something really groundbreaking, great and important.
  • Early introduction of the product
    Nike introduced it’s FuelBand on the 19th of January 2012 with a big launch event. Immediately many impressive marketing videos were on the Web as well as videos from participants of the launch event. To this day, the FuelBand cannot be bought in physical stores and is out of stock online.
    –> People have enough time to hear about the product as well as read reviews and watch videos about it.
  • (Artificial) supply shortage
    So far the FuelBand was mainly available in two online presales. Those ended only a few minutes after they had started: sold out! But how is it possible that the participants of the launch event already had fully working samples in their hands weeks before the first 3-minute-presale? Even celebrities seem to enjoy the new FuelBand by now. As one of the biggest sportswear and equipment company, Nike should have enough experience with product launches to ensure a timely supply of the demanded quantity for any new product. So it really seems to be an artificial supply shortage, a marketing trick if you will. In addition to that, as this interesting article points out, the FuelBand has been featured as “available” for about a month on the Nike+ FuelBand website.
    –> People perceive the product as something real (celebs wear it) which is really, really special (scarcity).
  • Positioning as a high-quality lifestyle product
    For a product which is supposed to measure your performance in some kind of sports, the FuelBand is surprisingly pretty! The simple and yet modern design is very appealing – at least to me. That’s good, because you get the most value out of your FuelBand in case you wear it all the time. And since it is cuddled up to your wrist, it is visible to other people. So the FuelBand allows you to wear something neat and trendy and therewith show off a little bit. But there is more! It also shouts out to the world: “Hey look at the guy wearing me, he is a super active person who is in good shape and is sociable.” And this is exactly the message that all the Nike marketing videos deliver to the viewer!
    –> People think of the FuelBand as a lifestyle product which communicates the favorable image of being trendy and physically active.
  • Pricing according to positioning
    Although many people complain about the relatively high price of the Nike+ FuelBand, I think the pricing strategy is brilliant! Would the Nike+ FuelBand be as special if it were available for only $79? Not at all! The high price of $149 indicates a high quality of the product and puts it into the luxury section. This again emphasizes the specialty of the product and even enables the FuelBand to be some sort of status symbol.
    –> People envision the product as a high quality luxury gadget. For some it might also act as a status symbol (comparable to the first iPhone).
  • Gamification
    People are competitive! With Nike Fuel the Nike+ FuelBand gives you the possibility to compete not only with others, but also against yourself. So it is engaging in two ways! Combined with the great UX of the apps coming along with the product, this guarantees long term usage and boosts the fun.
    –> People don’t only buy a performance measurement device, but also a game they can compete in. 

Many reviews of the FuelBand compare it to other products that measure your performance in some kind of sports. Those products are either invisible for others or not visually appealing. I think, to compare such products with the Nike+ Fuelband is a mistake. Nike doesn’t want the FuelBand to simply be a device for performance measurement. In fact, the Nike+ FuelBand is supposed to be something similar to the iPhone: a lifestyle product. And it would be the very first such product at the intersection of sports and technology. That said, I am already looking forward to the next generation of the Nike+ FuelBand!

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One comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more! The fuelband is a status symbol for sure, it follows Nike trends. Great little blog!

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