Fitbit accelerates growth strategy in SA

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 30 Sept 2022
The Versa 4.
The Versa 4.

Despite the highly-competitive wearables market, Fitbit says it has witnessed steady growth in South Africa.

It has now introduced its next generation of wearable devices to further increase its market share.

During a webinar yesterday, the American multinational electronics and fitness wearables company said it is accelerating its growth strategy locally.

It will introduce agile features to its devices, while strengthening relationships with local distributors and resellers, in an increasingly health-conscious market.

Fitbit once controlled the largest wearables market, with almost 40% global market share in 2014, according to research firm Statista.

The Sense 2.
The Sense 2.

As more companies entered the market and hyped up their wearable offerings, Fitbit was dislodged by Apple, Huawei and Samsung, which lead the market.

However, in SA, the company maintains it has seen steady and consistent growth.

“We operate in a highly-competitive market and the wearables market has grown a lot in SA,” said Prateek Kewalramani, head of marketing at Fitbit.

“While it’s not our policy to divulge numbers, what we can say is that we’ve managed to establish a steady relationship with our channel partners, as well as our users in SA, and we are also trying to get closer to the local communities – all of this has helped us reach a good position and we are claiming leadership locally.”

The pandemic saw an increase in health-conscious consumers, with more South Africans buying fitness trackers and wearable devices. Millennials and Gen X purchase more fitness devices than other generations.

Despite this, the global wearables market experienced its first decline during the first quarter of 2022, as unit shipments totalled 105.3 million units, down 3% year-over-year, as demand normalised, according to IDC.

The Inspire 3.
The Inspire 3.

This is largely attributable to cooling demand as consumers begin to spend more on tech categories outside of wearables, following years of precipitous growth further amplified during the pandemic, says IDC.

According to Kewalramani, to set itself apart from competitors, Fitbit has evolved from being a pure fitness tracking device company, to bringing more functionality and innovation around stress and sleep management, to help users gain control of their health goals.

Fitbit’s latest local offerings include the Sense 2 and Versa 4 smartwatches, as well as the Inspire 3 health and fitness tracker – all made available in SA from yesterday.

The Sense 2 is the successor to the original Sense, first launched in 2020. Sense 2 is its most advanced health-focused smartwatch, says the company. The Versa 4 includes over 40 exercise modes and built-in GPS. The Inspire 3 is the latest addition to the entry-level Inspire line of Fitbit tracking devices.

Last year, Google completed its acquisition of Fitbit, which saw the wearables company enhance its app with new features such as stress management tools.

In future, the partnership will see Google Maps and Google Wallet support added to Fitbit devices, noted Kewalramani.

“We continue to grow our local distribution network, which includes Takealot, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Totalsports, Incredible Connection and more.

“We are bringing more innovation in our new devices, as a result of our continued investments in technology, which will offer South African customers a variety of services based on their individual needs, to boost their health and wellness journey.”

The Sense 2 sells for R7 499, while the Versa 4 costs R5 699. The Inspire 3 is available from R2 499.

All the devices include six months of Fitbit Premium free.