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Isabelle Crossley
Mar 27, 2020
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Sports apps: a golden opportunity for brands

Translated by
Isabelle Crossley
Mar 27, 2020

As lockdown measures are tightened across Europe, more and more people are getting into sport and exercise at home. This presents a golden opportunity for brands developing apps and online coaching services.

Adidas training by Runtastic

With clubs and sports halls closed, competitions cancelled, and collective jogging prohibited, morale is at a low point for athletes and amateur sports enthusiasts alike and staying at home is putting their nerves to the test. Even the French Ministry of Sport’s website reminds citizens that “a minimum practice of an hour a day of dynamic physical activity for children and teenagers and half an hour a day for adults is recommended.” As a result, there has been an explosion in the popularity of home sports guided by apps and online platforms during the ongoing lockdown.
In recent days there has been an increasing number of offers and promotions from brands and sports labels. Puma, Adidas, Decathlon, Reebok, Nike, Le Coq Sportif, and Lululemon have all delivered messages to their communities and worked to create original content. These activities are not centred about commercial transactions but are rather about standing together with athletes during this period. 

Puma, which has partnered with the app ‘FizzUp’ since 2017, has granted free access to its ‘Premium’ service for the duration of the lockdown. “With or without an account, simply register with the code indicated to access a free coaching programme,” said Benoit Ménard, head of marketing and communications at Puma France. “We had already offered two specific Puma programmes on FizzUp in 2019 and we will continue with launches in 2020 with more targeted programmes.”
At Decathlon, its ‘Coach’ app is 100% free of charge and ad-free. “Our objective is to make practicing sport accessible to the greatest number of people as possible,” said Jérôme Lacoste, communications manager at Decathlon’s running brand Kalenji.

“Of course, we design and sell sports goods but we had to go one step further and enable as many people as possible to practice sports. By making our solution free of charge, we were responding to the needs of public interest and, in particular, the Sport-Health Act of 2016. This is even more pertinent today, during these difficult times for the French.”
Adidas, which bought the ‘Runtastic’ app in 2015, has offered ‘Premium’ access to Adidas training by Runtastic for the next three months starting on March 22.

“The current situation is affecting us all without exception and the brand wanted to mobilise all athletes to create or continue their sporting routine by launching the ‘Fit From Home Challenge’ in the app as a collective effort which aims to reach one million hours of exercise by April 19,” said Antoine Lillet, director of Adidas Paris Newsroom (digital communications). 
Since March 23, Le Coq Sportif has been inviting sports coaches to its Instagram account to hold a live sports session with the hashtag #BougezChezSoi (move at home). Everyday, the brand lets its ambassadors takeover the account with participants including Judo player and Olympic athlete Clarisse Agbegnenou and player for the French rugby team Jean-Baptiste Dubié who share their advice on the platform. 

Decathlon Coach

The situation has certainly presented brands with an opportunity to attract new followers as social media stats are on the rise across the board.

“Traffic has gradually increased over the past few days, reaching five times our usual traffic since March 17,” said Benoit Ménard at Puma.

“Numbers are still increasing for both subscribers and the number of training sessions. FizzUp is available in three languages (English, German, and French) and will also be launched in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese in the upcoming days in order to support as many Europeans as possible during the current crisis.”
The same is true at Decathlon. “The number of downloads and users as well as the number of sessions held on the app are growing very rapidly,” said Jérôme Lacoste. In 2019, Decathlon Coach counted 1.2 million users in France and two million in Europe. Since the lockdown, the number of new users has multiplied by four. On average, the number of daily sessions has increased threefold. There are some that have increased by over 400%. Amongst the top three are pilates, bodybuilding, and cardio fitness, the executive said.
What does this unique opportunity for the up-and-coming fitness app market spell for the future? The sector houses increased competition and the segment dedicated to women represents the largest component of fitness apps. Brands are also getting to know many new players through the data collection that the apps facilitate. This also enables the creation of a selection of targeted products for when the need to renew equipment will be felt by these home-athletes. 

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