Within the next 10 years, every athletic record will be in jeopardy of being broken, believes Robin Thurston, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Under Armour.
The reason? The availability of “hyper-personal analytics,” or data that can monitor everything about an athlete’s life and provide feedback that can be used to enhance performance, he said in a presentation at the WWD Digital Forum Thursday morning.
Thurston is a former professional cyclist and a cofounder of MapMyFitness, which was acquired by the Baltimore-based activewear brand in 2013. He now works on Under Armour’s connected fitness platforms, which also include MyFitnessPal and Endomondo.
These apps keep track of everything from sleep and food intake to heart rate and workouts. And one day, he said, this information can be aggregated and sent back to the athlete with suggestions for the type of workout he or she should do that day and the intensity — suggestions that can be used to achieve new records.
Getting this up close and personal to the customer is the way that companies will win in the future, Thurston said, but they have to be prepared to invest in the technology. “Don’t build it like it’s a microsite,” he said. “You have to continue to fund it” in order for it to be successful long-term.
And that investment isn’t just about money, it’s also man power.
“Your companies are not spending enough time in digital,” he said, adding that the “opportunity to touch the customer is changing very quickly.”
Under Armour realized that when it spent over $700 million to buy the fitness apps, which have 150 million registered users. Demographically, 63 percent are female, 42 percent are international and 71 percent are under 40 years old, he said.
The addition of these apps is helping Under Armour create a “seamless community” of fitness-minded people — ones that will hopefully buy its products.
Thurston said the start of digital fitness tracking industry can be traced to 2005, but it took five years for it to really take off.
Thurston said in the first 10 years, the focus was on “automation.” Today, it’s “precision” of the information that is most important. But in the next 10 years, he said, it’s “insights” that will define the success or failure of the technology.
Providing insights that ultimately lead to improved performance will create loyalty among consumers who will keep coming back to the community that has been created.
But firms need to continue to push that community forward with new information and data, a major push for Under Armour for the future. “We believe we have not yet built our defining product,” he said.