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Inside the Oura Ring Phenomenon

Oura’s CEO Tom Hale discusses the future of the wearable wellness brand.

Wearable wellness is becoming increasing sophisticated at connecting health, well-being and beauty. Tom Hale, chief executive officer of Oura, sat down with Jenny B. Fine, executive editor, beauty, at WWD and Beauty Inc, to discuss the future of the ring that is disrupting the wearable wellness category. The company, which was valued at $2.55 billion in April 2022, has sold more than 1 million units of the rings, which weigh just 4 grams and hold a seven-day battery life. 

“If I told you there was a drug that could keep you from getting heart disease, keep you from getting type two diabetes, make you look better, make your mood better, give you more energy, make you a better collaborator, make you more productive at work, make you a healthier, better person, would you take that drug?” Hale asked the audience. “Yeah, guess what? You do every day. It’s called sleep,” he said. 

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This emphasis on sleep is the gateway to health and the sweet spot for the Oura ring, which enables consumers to track their sleep, recovery and overall readiness for the day. Users see a score on their app, which also offers personalized recommendations for the day. For example, if a wearer didn’t sleep well the night before, the app might recommend fewer steps and more time for recovery. Through tagging and metrics, the user might deduce their lack of sleep was due to a glass of wine or added stress at the time. This customization allows Oura to meet users where they are in their wellness journey, according to Hale. 

“That tone and that shift in terms of how you personalize is where wearables are headed and where we’ll see probably the greatest gains from people who are being treated for what they’re experiencing, not what the average is experiencing,” he said. 

With the focus on personalization also comes the opportunity for consumers to educate themselves on their own health through metrics and supplementary content on the Oura platform. 

“Personalizing educating about yourself, giving your body a voice is incredibly powerful. We try and do education that’s targeted to you. What are your goals? What are your needs? What do we know about your body?” Hale said. 

While the impetus for the ring really began with sleep health, it doesn’t stop there. Going forward, Hale said the brand is focused on science and exploring all of the capabilities the ring could have to impact someone’s health. For example, the brand did a trial with 30,000 people and discovered, by using heart rate variability, the ring could detect COVID-19 on average three days early. 

The company is also prioritizing women’s health. Recently, Oura partnered with the FDA-cleared birth control app Natural Cycles. The Oura ring’s seven sensors are able to track the user’s body temperature, which will be synced to the Natural Cycles app to determine fertility. 

Now, the company is focused on heart health and stress. “We want to do for heart health what we did for sleep,” Hale said, noting that sleep is one of the key factors that contributes to overall heart health.

Following the brand’s uber-successful collaboration with Gucci, Oura is also constantly evolving the design, aiming to make the ring lighter and sleeker. 

As the company thinks about what Hale calls “Wearables 2.0,” customizing each person’s health recommendations will continue to be the driving factor. 

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“Wearables 1.0 was really about getting your steps in and it was about pushing you to get your exercise,” he said. “Wearables 2.0 is actually going to be really different. It’s about what is your particular health condition right now.”