Fitness Trackers Examined
Fitness Trackers Examined
Fitness Trackers Examined
Fitness Trackers Examined
Fitness Trackers Examined

Part I – Research and Analysis  

Part I – Research and Analysis 

Part I – Research and Analysis  

Part I – Research and Analysis  

Part I – Research and Analysis  

 

quantumcover

Challenge


Challenge


Fitness trackers hit 19% market penetration in 2016 reaching the early majority of users. While wearable tech will see shipments almost double by 2021 indicating a rapid change in tracking habits, the fitness tracker segment might already have reached its golden era with only 1.2% prognosed growth rate in the years to come.

One obstacle yet to overcome is the astonishing abandonment rate of 30%, which signals an unmet need in a highly competitive market. For this portfolio project, I set out to learn how people use tracking technology and redesign the process for a more engaging and rewarding experience.

Discovery


Discovery


Discovery


I am a firm believer that design is a systematic approach similar to the scientific method. My process is to mitigate risk by framing each outstanding business question as a hypothesis which I then attempt to disprove. In this particular case, the overarching hypothesis was:

I am a firm believer that design is a systematic approach similar to the scientific method. My process is to mitigate risk by framing each outstanding business question as a hypothesis which I then attempt to disprove. In this particular case, the overarching hypothesis was:

I am a firm believer that design is a systematic approach similar to the scientific method. My process is to mitigate risk by framing each outstanding business question as a hypothesis which I then attempt to disprove. In this particular case, the overarching hypothesis was:

"I believe that people have the need to track their workouts. Current solutions don't offer a compelling enough value proposition resulting in high abandonment rates. By using a user-centric approach and investigating new technologies, I can help people track their workouts in a more enjoyable, exciting and rewarding way."

"I believe that people have the need to track their workouts. Current solutions don't offer a compelling enough value proposition resulting in high abandonment rates. By using a user-centric approach and investigating new technologies, I can help people track their workouts in a more enjoyable, exciting and rewarding way."

"I believe that people have the need to track their workouts. Current solutions don't offer a compelling enough value proposition resulting in high abandonment rates. By using a user-centric approach and investigating new technologies, I can help people track their workouts in a more enjoyable, exciting and rewarding way."

"I believe that people have the need to track their workouts. Current solutions don't offer a compelling enough value proposition resulting in high abandonment rates. By using a user-centric approach and investigating new technologies, I can help people track their workouts in a more enjoyable, exciting and rewarding way."

"I believe that people have the need to track their workouts. Current solutions don't offer a compelling enough value proposition resulting in high abandonment rates. By using a user-centric approach and investigating new technologies, I can help people track their workouts in a more enjoyable, exciting and rewarding way."

Following Jamie Levy's empirical approach from UX Strategy, I split this very general hypothesis into smaller statements and set out to confirm them individually. This way I could support my risky assumptions with tangible data, ensuring the user's voice was heard and validate a market fit before investing more resources - or pivot accordingly to the findings.

"If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
 
"If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
 
"If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
 
"If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
 
"If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
 

Fake, yet relevant Abraham Lincoln quote


Fake, yet relevant Abraham Lincoln quote


Fake, yet relevant Abraham Lincoln quote



Fake, yet relevant Abraham Lincoln quote


Fake, yet relevant Abraham Lincoln quote

SO WHAT ARE THE RISKY ASSUMPTIONS ?

SO WHAT ARE THE RISKY ASSUMPTIONS ?

SO WHAT ARE THE RISKY ASSUMPTIONS ?

SO WHAT ARE THE RISKY ASSUMPTIONS ?

NEED

 

NEED

 

NEED

 

People see value in tracking their workouts (and would give up some value in exchange for it)

People see value in tracking their workouts (and would give up some value in exchange for it)

STATUS QUO

 

STATUS QUO

 

People currently have no satisfying solution to track their workouts

MARKET FIT

 

I can provide a product that has a significantly better value proposition

If any of these assumptions proved wrong, it would be hard pushing a useful product into the market. Being explicit about these assumptions at the beginning helped me to objectively understand whether or not there was a business opportunity.

Question: Do people value tracking their workouts ?


Question: Do people value tracking their workouts ?


Question: Do people value tracking their workouts ?


Question: Do people value tracking their workouts ?


Possibly more a marketing question than a user research question, I believe it's important to understand whether or not there is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact. From a business perspective, this comes down to the size of the total addressable market.

144.3M

Gym Memberships Worldwide

144.3M

Gym Memberships Worldwide

28.7M

Fitness Trackers Sold 2017

$10.8B

Global Fitness Tracker Market Value

To validate user research as quickly and cheaply as possible, I used conservative numbers from recent studies for quantitative insight. I only included gym members (as opposed to people using trackers outside of gyms) and focused specifically on fitness trackers (not including smartwatches to ensure the purchase was solely for tracking).

map

33% - Yes, I currently track     18% - Not currently, but I have tracked in the past

33% - Yes, I currently track    18% - Not currently, but I have tracked in the past

33% - Yes, I currently track      

18% - Not currently, but I have tracked in the past

There seems to be a general acknowledgment that tracking your workouts is important and an interest in taking steps to do so. The market size numbers made it apparent that there was an opportunity to provide a lot of incremental value, but what I really wanted to know was "Why do people think it is important to track your progress?"

The scientific benefits may seem obvious, but if we don't understand the underlying motivations and pain points, we will miss the mark what made people buy the product in the first place. After all, "people don't buy products, they buy better versions of themselves." We are not designing fitness apps or trackers, we are designing a life where technology helps people reach their goals, develop new habits, and have fun along the way.

I wanted to get more quantitative insights and validate those numbers for myself, so I send out a survey and conducted 5 interviews with people of different backgrounds ranging from gym rat to fitness beginner.

There seems to be a general acknowledgment that tracking your workouts is important and an interest in taking steps to do so. The market size numbers made it apparent that there was an opportunity to provide a lot of incremental value, but what I really wanted to know was "Why do people think it is important to track your progress?"

The scientific benefits may seem obvious, but if we don't understand the underlying motivations and pain points, we will miss the mark what made people buy the product in the first place. After all, "people don't buy products, they buy better versions of themselves." We are not designing fitness apps or trackers, we are designing a life where technology helps people reach their goals, develop new habits, and have fun along the way.

I wanted to get more quantitative insights and validate those numbers for myself, so I send out a survey and conducted 5 interviews with people of different backgrounds ranging from gym rat to fitness beginner.

Reasons for tracking

quantum4

Interestingly, half of the reasons given are not directly linked to fitness tracking and are replaceable by working out in general. At this point I suspected that leveraging the marked answers would be the best approach, focusing on the primary value. I was also curious to learn more about the underlying reason for "Because it's fun". Surprisingly to me, my own criteria for getting a fitness tracker didn't even make on the list: to ensure I'm actually making progress. Thank god for open-ended questions and The Mom Test. The wonders of user research!

Question: Do people currently have a satisfying way to track their workouts ?


Question: Do people currently have a satisfying way to track their workouts ?


Question: Do people currently have a satisfying way to track their workouts ?


Question: Do people  currently have a satisfying way to track their workouts ?


Starting with a competitive audit and using recent studies I wanted to understand the current market and investigate the cause of the 30% abandonment rate and adoption slowdown.

quantum5

Concerns with trackers (survey)


Concerns with trackers (survey)


Concerns with trackers (survey)


Concerns with trackers (survey)


  •  They are easy to lose
  •  They break
  •  They provide no real value
  •  They're not waterproof
  •  They're a pain to sync with your smartphone
  •  They provide too many fluff metrics
  •  The battery doesn't last long enough
  •  They're ugly
  •  They're uncomfortable to wear
  •  They provide no material benefit
  •  They are easy to lose
  •  They break
  •  They provide no real value
  •  They're not waterproof
  •  They're a pain to sync with your smartphone
  •  They provide too many fluff metrics
  •  The battery doesn't last long enough
  •  They're ugly
  •  They're uncomfortable to wear
  •  They provide no material benefit
  •  They are easy to lose
  •  They break
  •  They provide no real value
  •  They're not waterproof
  •  They're a pain to sync with your smartphone
  •  They provide too many fluff metrics
  •  The battery doesn't last long enough
  •  They're ugly
  •  They're uncomfortable to wear
  •  They provide no material benefit
  •  They are easy to lose
  •  They break
  •  They provide no real value
  •  They're not waterproof
  •  They're a pain to sync with your smartphone
  •  They provide too many fluff metrics
  •  The battery doesn't last long enough
  •  They're ugly
  •  They're uncomfortable to wear
  •  They provide no material benefit
  •  They are easy to lose
  •  They break
  •  They provide no real value
  •  They're not waterproof
  •  They're a pain to sync with your smartphone
  •  They provide too many fluff metrics
  •  The battery doesn't last long enough
  •  They're ugly
  •  They're uncomfortable to wear
  •  They provide no material benefit

At this point it is important to keep in mind that customers don't differentiate between usability issues, technical limitations or hardware malfunction and any one of these points is enough to be a deal breaker. Still, those answers seemed very generic, so I conducted more interviews using the five whys approach to find the root cause of a problem instead of the symptoms uncovering some interesting perspectives.

At this point it is important to keep in mind that customers don't differentiate between usability issues, technical limitations or hardware malfunction and any one of these points is enough to be a deal breaker. Still, those answers seemed very generic, so I conducted more interviews using the five whys approach to find the root cause of a problem instead of the symptoms uncovering some interesting perspectives.

"Fitness trackers are essentially useless for my clients after the first week or two. They land somewhere between a gimmick and a security blanket. They can help you figure out some basic things about yourself and your behavior, but beyond that, they aren’t worth much."
 
"Fitness trackers are essentially useless for my clients after the first week or two. They land somewhere between a gimmick and a security blanket. They can help you figure out some basic things about yourself and your behavior, but beyond that, they aren’t worth much."
 
"Fitness trackers are essentially useless for my clients after the first week or two. They land somewhere between a gimmick and a security blanket. They can help you figure out some basic things about yourself and your behavior, but beyond that, they aren’t worth much."
 
"Fitness trackers are essentially useless for my clients after the first week or two. They land somewhere between a gimmick and a security blanket. They can help you figure out some basic things about yourself and your behavior, but beyond that, they aren’t worth much."
 
"Fitness trackers are essentially useless for my clients after the first week or two. They land somewhere between a gimmick and a security blanket. They can help you figure out some basic things about yourself and your behavior, but beyond that, they aren’t worth much."
 

Personal Trainer


Personal Trainer


Personal Trainer



Personal Trainer


Personal Trainer

This highlights the problem that while a tracker is a great way to get people moving, it offers little value for keep using it. When it succeeds in helping people establish better diet and exercise routines, it deprives itself of its biggest value. If not, it becomes a nuisance associated with failure.

effort-utility-graph

For some people, trackers can even suck the fun out of exercising. An interviewee worried about hitting his movement targets so much that he became stressed and felt bad about himself if he didn’t reach his goals - which pushed him to ditch his device. A blogger even complained that her Fitbit actually made her less fit because the tracker rewarded steps taken over more intense workouts, such as strength training. And you thought Norman doors were bad.

For some people, trackers can even suck the fun out of exercising. An interviewee worried about hitting his movement targets so much that he became stressed and felt bad about himself if he didn’t reach his goals - which pushed him to ditch his device. A blogger even complained that her Fitbit actually made her less fit because the tracker rewarded steps taken over more intense workouts, such as strength training. And you thought Norman doors were bad.

Hafta vs Wanna


Hafta vs Wanna


Hafta vs Wanna


In a self-experiment with MyFitnessPal, Nir Eyal offers another perspective on tracking: people differentiate between "hafta" and "wanna" behavior. The difference between things you have to do and things we want to do, on a deeply subconscious level is the difference between work and play, slavery and freedom, efficiency and pleasure. Once a product drifts into the "hafta" spectrum, the only options are to either comply with what the product wants you to do, or quit. When our autonomy is threatened, we feel constrained by our lack of choices and often rebel against doing the new behavior.

The interviews made it apparent that before, and even after people develop a habit using trackers, they are seen as vitamins rather than painkillers. While smartphones or early mp3 players replaced prior products, so far, in the customer's eyes there are no clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing. Time and attention being the most valuable resources nowadays, it's much to ask to learn a new app, keep punching in your data, and have another device to charge regularly.

Strategy


Strategy


I believe that achieving anything meaningful requires clearly articulated goals. By defining a vision for the design challenge, I can set a standard by which I can evaluate every decision I make along the way and judge whether it supports, enhances, or detracts from that vision. To guide my thought process and have a (now validated) anchor to refer to I formulated the following principles as strategic cornerstones:

#quantum_principles

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

EMPOWERING

 

A great product needs to keep us connected to our goals, especially when the pace of progression is barely perceivable on a day-to-day basis. A tracker should help us to better visualize elusive goals and function as a sort of biofeedback to strengthen our commitment. It has to overcome simply metrics and engage people on a personal level.

ENGAGING

 

Apart from keeping us more in touch with the long-term progress, a successful product needs to have engaging short-term rewards in the form of content and community. By designing an overall enjoyable and satisfying workout experience, a tracker can help people establish new habits and use their workout time more efficiently.

FRICTIONLESS

 

To ensure long term-engagement and mass market adoption, trackers not only need to push usability and tangible benefits but also decrease acquisition and regular usage costs (financial, psychological, emotional). By drastically simplifying the entire process, the ability to track your workout needs to become even more effortless.

Depending on whether you prefer Nir Eyal or Grant Cardone, new products must be nine - ten times better than existing products in order to succeed. Although this number seems like an unrealistic goal, I think it's a great mindset to approach challenges, especially in the explorative state of a new product. After investigating user needs and understanding the current market situation, my goal was using what I learned to determine competitive differentiators and blue ocean opportunities.

Question: Can I provide a product with a significantly better value proposition?


Question: Can I provide a product with a significantly better value proposition?


Question: Can I provide a product with a significantly better value proposition?


What would a product look like that combined all the advantages of fitness trackers without suffering from their long-term utility issues? Having the research results in mind, I investigated tracking technology further and decided to pursue a different approach than current market solutions. Using next-generation visual body language analytics, future gyms could outsource the tracking from wearable devices into the environment, removing the need for personal gadgets. Instead of introducing a whole new product segment into our already busy lives, this would leverage the investment that every gym member already did and provide a more meaningful workout experience.

quantum7

Vision


Vision


While physical trackers will remain a tool for 24/7 in-depth metrics like sleep quality, heart rate variability or geotagging, environmental based tracking solutions could offer a contextual, effortless, and less intrusive alternative. Using this approach would eliminate most usability issues while at the same time tipping the scale highly in favor of value provided over investment & upkeep costs.

After defining the project's direction and goals, I had a good starting point to design a meaningful solution that was driven by user's needs while pursuing a compelling business opportunity. If you would like to see more, join me in part two of the case study where I focus on the design process of converting research into a prototype.

While physical trackers will remain a tool for 24/7 in-depth metrics like sleep quality, heart rate variability or geotagging, environmental based tracking solutions could offer a contextual, effortless, and less intrusive alternative. Using this approach would eliminate most usability issues while at the same time tipping the scale highly in favor of value provided over investment & upkeep costs.

After defining the project's direction and goals, I had a good starting point to design a meaningful solution that was driven by user's needs while pursuing a compelling business opportunity. If you would like to see more, join me in part two of the case study where I focus on the design process of converting research into a prototype.

If you would like to learn more about the implementation of the research process, join me in Part two of the casestudy where I focus on UX/UI.

If you would like to learn more about the implementation of the research process, join me in Part two of the casestudy where I focus on UX/UI.

If you would like to learn more about the implementation of the research process, join me in Part two of the casestudy where I focus on UX/UI.

If you would like to learn more about the implementation of the research process, join me in Part two of the casestudy where I focus on UX/UI.

If you would like to learn more about the implementation of the research process, join me in Part two of the casestudy where I focus on UX/UI.

2019 © Nicolai Fleischhauer