Bob's Blog

Fitbit or a bit unfit?

green-2557522_640.jpgWhat a stunning, if Machiavellian, piece of marketing the Fitbit is. If ever evidence was needed to illustrate the importance of psychology in marketing, then look no further. And the beautiful thing about this product is that it never claims to be able to make you fitter: all the manufacturers have done, essentially, is to sell the users an expensive badge.

Roger Bannister became the first athlete to break the four-minute barrier for the mile, and he hadn’t access to one. You won’t see ‘elite’ athletes using one either; they know what’s required for them to excel, and if not, then their coaches will surely remind them. Muggins here, despite advancing years, flails around a badminton court every week and tends to pensioners’ gardens for eight hours minimum each weekend during the season, yet doesn’t need a Fitbit to tell me that I ache. If, then, the Fitbit isn’t for people that actually do stuff, then who is it for? A casual exercise in observation may conclude that it is for people that don’t.

Let me elaborate. After a hot, four-hour gardening shift in the middle of summer, one’s conscience doesn’t need much salving to justify a pint of cold cider as a reward. Propped up against the bar is a Fitbit wearer, assiduously attacking his eighth pint and who could best be described, as my father – God rest his soul – would have phrased it, as an Ale cart. The fulfilment of his many forays to the gents must have been down to guesswork as, judging by his build, he wouldn’t even have been able to see his feet for years, or would topple forward in the attempt. But that’s okay; he was wearing a Fitbit, so his conscience is clear. There are other examples that could be cited, but there’s no point: have a look at some Fitbit wearers and you’ll see for yourself. The saddest thing is, of course, for those who bought one with all the best intentions, as they could well be tarred with Ale cart’s brush, but then again, they could also ask themselves whether they actually need one, or could they achieve a healthier lifestyle through hard work and common sense.

The moral of the story is that if you want to make some money, market something that can give people an excuse for not doing something yet provide them with a badge to suggest that the polar opposite is true.