Fitbit spent $21.6M, Garmin $18.8M, Samsung $11.6M on ads for their fitness wearables in 2014

By Aditi Pai
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Kantar Media ad spend fitbitOf wearable fitness device makers, Fitbit spent the most on advertising its devices last year, investing $21.6 million, according to a recent report from Kantar Media.

Garmin and Samsung were both not far behind Fitbit in advertising spend. Garmin spent $18.7 million and Samsung spent $11.6 million. After the top three spenders there's a significant drop in amount spent: Nike spent $3.2 million, Google spent $3.1 million, Jaybird spent $1.8 million, and Timex spent $1.7 million.

Fitbit is the only company in the top five that is private, although earlier this month, Fitbit took its first official steps toward an IPO.

Other companies on the list each spent less than $1 million on advertising fitness wearables in 2014. These companies, in descending order of spend, include Microsoft, LG, Qualcomm, Misfit, Withings, Jawbone, Adidas, Spire, and OM.

Kantar pointed out that because three companies, Fitbit, Garmin, and Samsung, make up 75 percent of the ad spending, the market is fairly concentrated.

"Google devoted 1.5 percent of [its] ad budget to its Android Wear Smartwatch, Samsung 1.7 percent to its Galaxy Gear smartwatches, and Nike 3.1 percent to its Nike+ FuelBand," Kantar Media wrote. "For other brands for which wearable fitness devices make up the majority of their business, the shares were higher: Garmin spent 64 percent of its ad budget on wearable fitness advertising (more than it spent on its navigational equipment), and Fitbit 72 percent." 

Kantar also put the 2014 fitness wearable ad numbers in historical context. In 2010, Garmin had a 77 percent share of advertising spend, promoting its Garmin Forerunner and FR60 Fitness watches. The only other brand that had a large share of ad spending for fitness wearables was Timex.

In 2011, Nike entered the fitness wearable space and was responsible for 42 percent of the advertising spend, while Garmin only had a 22 percent share. By the end of 2012, Nike's share of ad spending reached 75 percent. This was in part because the company launched the Nike+ FuelBand earlier that year.

The top three companies spent 65 percent of their 2014 wearable fitness ad budget on television, 16 percent on magazines, and 11 percent on digital. Fitbit spent a larger share than Samsung and Garmin on television ads (75 percent) and digital ads (17 percent). Meanwhile, Samsung and Garmin spent more than one third of their budget on newspaper and magazine advertising. And while Nike spent 90 percent of its fitness wearable ad budget on TV advertisements, Google (surprise, surprise) spent a majority of its wearable device budget on digital advertising.

Fitbit also dominated social media mentions. The company had a 79 percent "share of voice", while Nike+ Fuelband had 9 percent share of voice, and Jawbone had 4 percent, according to Kantar.

"Sharing results was key to Fitbit’s success, as a large portion of Fitbit’s profile was driven by users tweeting their stats and sharing achievements, like in-app trophies and badges," Kantar wrote. "In-app awards and contests with friends and family are offered by most leading fitness tracker brands, but clearly Fitbit has been able to get more traction from these capabilities."

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