Smartwatches are no longer just fitness devices; they have metamorphosed into lifestyle products. In an interview with Geetika Srivastava, Aman Gupta, co-founder and CMO of D2C brand boAt, which is backed by giant investors, including Warburg Pincus, Qualcomm Ventures, InnoVen Capital, among others, explains the shift in consumer behaviour in the segment and lays out the company’s expansion plan. Edited excerpts:
How has the wearables market changed the dynamics of the health and fitness category — both in terms of products and in terms of marketing?
Smartwatches as a product have become niftier and cooler. They now function as holistic devices stirring the fashion quotient and help reduce anxiety and stress while boosting fitness goals. The data helps users understand their emotional and mental state comprehensively. Modern-age smartwatches are embedded with AI, ML, and artificial intelligence of things technologies, making them ideal for information about relevant health problems such as anxiety and stress.
As smartwatches became much more complex and feature-rich, we tried to educate consumers about their benefits. Unlike audio products that are much easier to use, smart wearables offer many more features, and hence it is important for the end consumer to know the benefits of these products.
What are the key global trends in the wearables market? Which wearable device do you think will dominate the market in 2023?
Driven by a pandemic-induced shift in consumer awareness about health and fitness, smartwatches have registered tremendous growth globally, especially in India. Consumers have started embracing the connected lifestyle. Smartwatches initially started off as fitness trackers with health and fitness-centric features but have evolved into standalone smart devices since then. They are now being used to track notifications and make Bluetooth calls as well. Some of them even come with built-in Alexa to further enhance their capabilities. Screens have become drastically better, along with fast charging, better UI and smartphone-compatible apps.
We feel that these smartwatches are only going to get smarter and much more capable with the arrival of new hardware and software features. They will evolve and offer many more health and fitness-related insights through machine learning. Bluetooth calling-enabled smartwatches will certainly become much more common and affordable. We will also see an influx of new sensors such as body temperature sensor and ECG sensors.
What does boAt’s recent association with cult.fit mean for the consumer?
The benefits of physical fitness go way beyond the four corners of the gym. A home workout can also improve and stimulate mental health. boAt and cult.fit joined hands to essentially bring about a shift in people’s attitude. The result is the launch of our first-of-a-kind at-home workout programme ‘Fitness Xtended’. It highlights the beauty of performing fitness activities along with accurate tracking and the impact that they can have when done together. It will allow us to create a wellness ecosystem in the country.
What are the top 3 things a consumer is looking for in his wearables brand?
One of the top features that people are looking for in an ideal smartwatch today is Bluetooth calling, which makes it a fully-functional, independent device on people’s wrists. Consumers are also looking at smartwatches that give them all necessary health and fitness data such as heart rate, oxygen saturation, sleep pattern, steps, and more, so fitness sensors and trackers are a must too.
Finally, cutting-edge technology is very important. As wearables become smarter by the day, a lot of higher-end features are now trickling into this category. Consumers today are on the look out for smartwatches with AMOLED screens, voice assistants, fast charging, customisation, and feature-packed companion apps.
Does your influencer marketing strategy need tweaking as you expand your offline footprint?
We are the leaders in our core personal audio and the earwear category. We will stay committed to strengthening category leadership by enhancing R&D and design capabilities and supporting the building of a local manufacturing ecosystem under the Make-in-India initiative. We now want to make smartwatches our second core and will replicate the boAt digital playbook to become leaders in this category as well.
We will certainly have a different marketing approach to disrupt the offline market, but digital and influencer marketing are still going to be a core focus for us as we try to make our community bigger and stronger than before. Marketing is dynamic and as a young consumer brand, we try to be the trendsetters in our industry, which is evident through our initiatives such as the metaverse concert as well as working with virtual influencers.
Name the top 5 qualities that are a must have for any new product that you roll out.
Quality, high fashion quotient, technological superiority, Indianised features, and they must be a good bang for the buck.