“Age is a mystery and body is invincible” has always been the goal pursued by many fitness enthusiasts. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, they could not go to the gym or sports field, but this group of people still did not forget to check in. Now open the familiar sports software, you will find that some people have just finished outdoor riding, some have just finished 15 kilometers, some have just finished vest line, abdominal muscles, weight loss, fat loss…
This wave of “cloud fitness” also allowed sports apps to “take off”. Online fitness brand Keep announced in December 2020 that it had completed a $360 million F round of financing, and its valuation successfully crossed the $2 billion mark.
360 million US dollars, this can be said to be the largest financing in the domestic fitness industry in recent years. More importantly, Keep’s F round of financing is less than a year after the last E round of 80 million US dollars in financing. What does this show? It shows that the capital is once again optimistic about the online fitness track. You know, the last time capital flooded into this field was in 2015.
Why is Keep selected? What does capital fancy? How should it go next?
Two blind spots: female, indoor
In October 2014, the national fitness survey data released by the state showed that compared with 2007, the number of people who exercised for the whole country increased by nearly 8%, especially for people aged 20 to 40, the number of exercisers doubled. In addition, mobile Internet stars such as “Yuan Shanshan’s vest line” and “10 kilometers of Chen Yihan” have made exercise a synonym for positive energy in life. The national fitness awareness has begun to awaken, and more and more people have begun to take fitness as a part of their lives.
Keep came into being under this background. It was officially launched in February 2015 and developed at an astonishing speed: it went online for 50 days, had more than 1 million users, and received Series A financing. It has more than 10 million users in the first year, surpassing Xiaomi Sports for the first time, becoming the second most active user of the same category of App, and it has received C round of financing.
However, the venue is the foundation of national fitness. Compared with the 16 square meters of fitness venues in the United States, my country’s 1.46 square meters of sports venues are extremely scarce. In addition, most fitness venues in the city are concentrated in schools and are not open to the outside world. The fact that people cannot find suitable sports venues is an important reason for hindering sports. As a result, more and more people began to look for home-based weight loss fitness tutorials on video sites, but the only mainstream fitness tutorials on the Internet are Pump it up from abroad, South Korea’s Zheng Dayan weight loss exercises, etc. They are few in variety, targeted and scientific. Strong. The appearance of Zheng Duoyan in the popular variety show “Happy Camp” in May 2014 shows that the people have a strong demand for fitness guidance.
The awakening of national fitness awareness and the lack of fitness venues have provided opportunities for the development of Keep. In addition, there is a big difference in the forms of male and female sports. Men spend more leisure time and travel longer on average. They are more inclined to exercise and leisure alone. They often choose outdoor sports such as basketball, tennis, and swimming. Women pay more attention to social relationships in leisure activities and take part in running, yoga, dancing and other indoor methods.
The user needs of young women in the market were not met in the mainstream fitness apps at that time. These users also became the main users of Keep later entering the market, providing market opportunities for Keep’s differentiated positioning.
From the mobile coach of fitness novices to the “free sports field”
At the same time as Keep, there are also fitness apps such as Happy Running Circle and Gudong Sports. As a challenging new product, Keep has to choose which core needs of users to solve from the beginning and how to solve them. Now it seems that Keep has mainly captured two major areas: fitness guidance and fitness socialization, and the matching of the two.
To restore the scene, user A went home during the Chinese New Year and found that he was fatter and wanted to lose weight. So he went to various forums, post bars, etc. to search for how everyone reduced it, and then carried out weight loss exercises based on the content of the strategy. All competing products that were online at the time were unable to match the search strategy with the fitness guidance process.
Therefore, Keep takes the positioning of “mobile fitness coach” to accurately cut into the market gap of Xiaobai Fitness’s unmanned guidance, and solves the needs of fitness guidance and social needs. The solution is to guide fitness youngsters through targeted fitness training video live broadcasts that are synchronized with athletes.
Users can obtain fitness strategies and fitness friends through “discovery”, cheer themselves up by publishing status, and provide more users with fitness experience. Social meets the higher-level needs of users. Yuan Shanshan can turn fans into black fans through the vest line, so many unknown users can also realize self-identification through Keep’s social circle. In this way, the need from fitness to social interaction forms a closed loop.
After Keep gradually accumulating the first batch of users, Keep also exposed the young people’s favorite TV programs such as “True Man” and “Happy Camp”, and borrowed hot topics such as “Flowers and Boys” and “Chen Yihan’s Movement Track”. Clever use of social networks, such as the use of Weibo and WeChat to launch squat challenges and other activities, harvested a large number of target users’ growth. At this time, the basic sharing functions of Keep’s release dynamics and sharing to third parties have also been completed, laying the product foundation for its topic dissemination.
After 2016, Keep’s number of users has exceeded 10 million, and other fitness functions such as store functions, running, yoga, etc. have been gradually launched, and a user growth system and badge system have been gradually established. The new functions of operating activities and products mainly focus on online running check-in and badges. Collection and other functions, with the help of festivals to initiate online activities such as the elimination of ten kilometers, Christmas special agents, etc., have attracted a lot of attention, and Keep’s new sports functions are gradually being used by more people. Keep is more than just a mobile fitness trainer. When more users start running, yoga, and cycling on Keep, the positioning of the “free sports field” will be a matter of course.
Put great effort into content
Coincidentally, during the epidemic, a company in the United States that focused on home fitness took the opportunity to “take off.” In 2020 alone, the market value of this company has risen six times, from 7.6 billion US dollars to 47.1 billion US dollars, and the total annual revenue and the number of subscribers have also skyrocketed. This company is Peloton. Its success is of great reference to Keep’s future content development.
Many foreign media directly refer to Peloton as a “fitness equipment manufacturer” in reports. In Peloton’s business model, selling hardware accounts for a large proportion. Peloto’s hardware products are highly technological. For example, each device is equipped with a 23.8-inch large rotatable high-definition touch screen, as well as a camera and high-quality speakers, allowing users to easily video online with others.
However, the threshold for hardware is not high, it is easy to be copied and copied by others, and it is difficult to keep users enthusiasm for long-term use by hardware alone. Too many people bought treadmills and threw them on the balcony to eat ashes, and they ended up as “drying racks”. In order to solve this problem, Peloton’s strategy is: to devote great efforts to content.
Peloton has a nickname called “the Netflix of fitness industry.” This means that the quality of Peloton’s online fitness classes is as sophisticated as Netflix’s self-made films and TV series. Peloton has its own studio and production team, and all courses are conducted by professional producers. Course categories are very rich, covering running, cycling, yoga, physical fitness, strength training, etc. According to data, Peloton has 510,000 users who did not purchase hardware, but paid to subscribe to online courses separately, and this part of users has grown rapidly, which is enough to show that the content itself is attractive.
And in Peloton’s coaching team, there are many celebrity fitness coaches, including models, former track and field athletes, national cycling champions, and back dancers of well-known singers. The classes of these people are generally not available in the gym. Many coaches have inspirational stories behind them. They not only teach lessons, but also share their life stories and fitness concepts on the platform.
But after all, through the screen, can the experience be wired? The general response from users is that Peloton’s classes are more involved. For example, a student said that she was scared the first time she went to class because the coach could actually call out the names of many students, and remember which city they came from and what their physical indicators were. You know, the participants of a live broadcast class range from hundreds to thousands of people. How difficult is it to remember the personal information of the students? But Peloton’s coach can do it.
In addition, the Peloton platform has also opened up with Facebook accounts. You can easily find Facebook friends who are in class together on the screen, make video calls, and cheer each other up. At the same time, you can also check the information of other students in the class and make new friends. Currently, there are a large number of Peloton communities on Facebook, and some groups even have tens of thousands of members.
It can be said that through fitness, Peloton has created an invisible spiritual bond that connects people together. And social interaction eventually became Peloton’s biggest barrier. When users enter the relationship network through Peloton and find their emotional identity, it is difficult for them to be snatched away by competing products.
John Foley, the founder of Peloton, once said that Peloton is “in this era, shaping people’s belief in sports.” This may sound empty at first, but when you think about it carefully, aren’t those great companies from Apple to Tesla shaping a certain kind of belief?
The in-depth integration of “hardware + content + social”, this consumption upgrade in the mass fitness field, is the real driving force behind Peloton’s rapid development, and it is also a direction that Keep is worth working on in the future.