Fitbit released a fitness tracker called the Charge 4 in April of 2020, which replaced the Charge 3. When it was released, it was sold at $149.95, and was marketed as a slim, lightweight, but impressive exercise tracker that included sleep tracking and all-day heart rate monitoring (Ellis, 2021b). The $149.95 price is a skimming pricing strategy, as most electronics like smartphones and gaming consoles follow, where the product is introduced to the early adopters in the market at a high price. As the product ages, the price is lowered to bring more market saturation and make room for the next generation of the product (Blechschmidt, 2019).
As the product reached maturity, its price came down to around $129. During the 2021 Black Friday shopping day in the United States, the price of the Charge 4 dropped to $69 (Need a Fitness Tracker? The Latest Fitbit Just Got Discounted to $69, 2021). The timing of the price drop was perfect since the Charge 5 had just been released in September 2021. Current marketing for the Charge 4 focus on its sleek design and features (Sitzes, 2021).
The Charge 4, still sold everywhere, is in its maturity phase of its product lifestyle and will begin its decline now that the Charge 5 has been released.
Fitbit Charge 5: Early in its product lifecycle
The Charge 5 was released at an initial price of $179.95 (Ellis, 2021a), again with the skimming pricing strategy, appearing as a premium product to early adopters. In its introductory phase of its product lifecycle, Fitbit is pushing the Charge 5 along with the Fitbit Premium subscription service. They are emphasizing that it is the most advanced fitness tracker on the market which completely redefines fitness tracking, with GPS as well as an ECG (electrocardiogram), activity tracking, sleep tracking, as well as a daily workout readiness score (Fitbit, 2021). Marketing campaigns hit the Internet and social media 2 months before product release to build hype and excitement for the launch.
How is the marketing different between the two products?
As the Fitbit Charge 4 is at maturity and nearing decline, Fitbit is spending very little on new marketing for it. Fitbit’s most aggressive marketing for the Charge 4 is in the pricing strategy with the current discount of the price down to $69. It is now priced for market penetration and inventory reduction. Interestingly, the Fitbit website no longer features the Charge 4 anywhere, although it is still sold heavily through all distribution channels and retail stores.
Unlike the Charge 4, the Fitbit Charge 5 is in its introduction phase, so there is a lot of marketing on social media, in retail stores, and online. It is the feature fitness tracker on the Fitbit website and is receiving all of their attention and marketing effort. It is priced and positioned to be the best premium product on the market.
What improvements to the marketing strategy would you recommend for each if you were the marketing manager?
The typical product lifecycle of electronics such as smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, and computers is very fast, averaging 4-5 years (Elder, 2019). Given the product launch of the Charge 5, the Charge 4 will be retired very soon. I would recommend that the Fitbit team gives a trade-up discount to loyal Fitbit customers with the Charge 4. (Consequently, this is something that Fitbit customers are asking for in their community forums, and Fitbit currently has no trade in program, like in this post: https://community.fitbit.com/t5/Other-Charge-Trackers/Does-Fitbit-have-an-upgrade-program/td-p/2959638 ). In addition, I would celebrate the fitness and lifestyle that the Charge 4 has enabled for users, marketing it as the classic stylish choice for a fitness tracker. Those who want to newest features, can trade up for the Charge 5.
by Arthur Ocain
Blechschmidt, F. (2019, October 1). How to Choose a Pricing Strategy for Your Product. https://medium.com/@info_26797/how-to-choose-a-pricing-strategy-for-your-product-f134b728bf56
Elder, R. (2019, February 11). Creating New Markets in the Lifecycle of Connected Things.
Ellis, C. (2021, December 3). Fitbit Charge 4 review. https://www.techradar.com/reviews/fitbit-charge-4
Ellis, C. (2021, October 1). Fitbit Charge 5 review. https://www.techradar.com/reviews/fitbit-charge-5
Fitbit. (2021, August 25). Fitbit Charge 5 + Premium: Redefine Your Routine [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/ozWbsAayGEE
Need a Fitness Tracker? The Latest Fitbit Just Got Discounted to $69. (2021, November 27). Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/product-recommendations/electronics/fitbit-charge-4-review-sale-1089964/
Sitzes, J. (2021, August 24). https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/fitbit-charge-4-is-back-down-to-100-save-50/