Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Key Apple Watch competitor makes major expansion with Target

by BD Banks

Along with near-instant shipping and delivery, assisted parking technology, all your favorite takeout options just an app away, one of the more impressive marvels of the 21st century is the wearable fitness tracker. 

It started with the Garmin Forerunner 201 in the early 2000s, which was a wearable “watch,” but not really as we know it today. 

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The Forerunner looked more like a clunky GPS device attached to a velcro strap and tracked some rudimentary features like lap pace times, elevation gains, lap distances, and, of course, your local time. 

It wasn’t until 2015 that things really kicked off with Apple’s  (AAPL)  introduction of the Apple Watch, which featured a touchscreen interface replete with vivid colors, interactive apps compatible with the iOS ecosystem, and more fitness tracking features. Things have come a long way since then. 

The most up to date Apple Watch, the Series 9 and Ultra 2, now measure a whole host of health and interactive metrics, including: 

  • Altitude and depth measurements
  • Sleep estimates and measurements
  • Heart rate
  • Medication reminders
  • Mindfulness reminders
  • Cycle tracking
  • Step count
  • Calories burned
  • Email, iMessage, and phone call capabilities

And while Apple Watch still captures a majority of the wearable market share, others are quickly nipping away at it. 

One of Apple’s most direct competitors, the Oura Ring, has been making strides in the space, converting users who want a more sleek appearance and don’t want the bulk of a large watch at all times. 

Oura, which is a much smaller Finnish company, offers two rings: the Heritage and Horizon. Both boast up to a week of battery life, since instead of using a bright screen display the rings instead use red and green light sensors against the skin to detect subtle changes like heart rate, sleep, and stress. 

Oura measures over 20 biometric signals, including: 

  • Heart rate variation (HRV)
  • Respiratory rate
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Sleep quality
  • Body temperature
  • Recovery
  • Activity
  • Mindfulness and stress levels

A collection of silver, black, gold and rose gold Oura Rings.


Oura makes a major expansion move

Similar to the Apple Watch, Oura rings retail for around $400 and can be purchased direct to consumer on its website, in Best Buy  (BBY) , and most recently, on Amazon  (AMZN)

And now, Oura is announcing it will partner with Target  (TGT)  to sell its rings in stores and online – its third major retail partnership in just over a year.

Oura Chief Marketing Officer Doug Sweeney said the Target partnership is a part of the wellness company’s larger strategy. 

“They bring design-forward consumer brands to the masses, and we’re excited about growing and expanding our customer base,” he said. “It’s a very important part, as we’re growing in the mass retail category, that we educate and drive awareness.”

“This is part of our journey as we grow from an early adopter brand to something moving into the more mass and mainstream,” Sweeney added.

As of 2022, Oura said it had sold over 1 billion rings, though that number has surely grown since then. It added that Best Buy, the first of its retail partnerships, was largely accountable for its success; approximately 60% of Best Buy’s in-store ring sales are Oura’s.

Target stores will feature end cap displays in the consumer electronics department debuting the brand, with available $10 sizing kits. The sizing kits will also come with a $10 gift card toward a future Oura purchase. Oura also requires a $5.99 monthly membership fee for access to all of its insights, though the first month is free when purchased via Target.