The weekend warrior. 99% of the time: a working stiff, grinding out paperwork, riding a desk. But the other 1% of the time: tearing up new terrain, defying gravity, and starring in his/her own adventure epic. GoPro really “gets” that weekend warrior, in addition to the hardened athletes who compete in high-intensity events like Red Bull Crashed Ice and the Go-Pro Mountain Games. Founded in 2002, GoPro went public in 2014 and that year churned out sales of over $1 billion and a healthy profit of $128 million. What’s the secret to their success?
Target an extreme consumer and problem — not the mainstream
Smartphones are most commonly used these days to record get-togethers and everyday events. But it’s pretty hard to take a selfie if you’re swooshing downhill or kayaking rapids. And a regular camera in someone else’s hands can’t always go where you go – like down a wave you’re surfing or up a mountain you’re climbing – and it definitely can’t capture the thrill of what you see when you’re inside the action.
GoPro solves this problem with a small camera that can be attached to virtually anything, withstand extremely harsh conditions, and capture crazy-cool perspectives in professional-grade video. GoPro’s target market spans a wide variety of out-there activities, but they all have one thing in common: a passion for the action and a desire to record it so they can relive it and showcase it to others. Taglines like “Be a hero” and “Capture + share your world” can make even a champion chair-warmer feel like a world-beating, first-off-the-cliff adventurer. Targeting the extreme gives the brand an identity that clearly differentiates GoPro from other recording devices and gives the brand a premium, aspirational feel, though prices start at a very affordable $129. Even if your activity isn’t that extreme, having a GoPro makes you feel like you’re taking it up a level.
Take-aways: GoPro marketing very effectively engages the consumer’s passion with extreme in-the-action imagery, and they earn the consumer’s heart with a high-functioning product designed to survive extreme conditions.
Embrace your users’ passion and go enthusiastically where they lead you
GoPro’s most unanticipated customers? Professional cameraman. GoPro cameras have been used in hundreds of TV productions from “Deadliest Catch” to “The Bible” and to shoot previously impossible shots such as the inside of a shark’s mouth–which was accomplished by attaching a GoPro to a seal decoy. “Some of the cameras were eaten, but the sharks spit them up eventually, without any harm to the cameras,” reported the photographer. In 2015, GoPro inked their first pro sports contract with the NHL, and the cameras have already been game-worn by NHL players to bring new perspectives of the action to hockey fans. GoPro’s latest products in their professional line include a wireless transmitter for live broadcasting and the latest technology for spherical video. This goes well beyond the brand’s original mission of letting athletes capture their own daredevil feats, but ultimately adds great credibility.
For everyday adventurers, GoPro engages with the individuality of their users and supports the unique moments they want to capture by offering an extensive line of accessories along with a “shop by activity” option on their website. Whether you want to mount your GoPro to a drone for aerial photography, on your dog, or on a dive mask, GoPro offers an adaptive accessory to support you. The “shop by activity” store features customized product bundles for everyone from airborne pilots and sky divers to waterborne scuba divers and fishermen. A military bundle, for example, includes a night vision goggle mount, while a hockey package features special helmet, chest, and stick mounts. While competitors may offer similar cameras, GoPro’s commitment to accessories gives them an invaluable edge.
Take-aways: Stay close to your consumers by encouraging them to share the amazing things they’re able to do with your product. Leverage that insight for publicity purposes as well as to develop features and accessories that enable your brand to outperform competitive alternatives and to extend your product’s usability into new spaces. Don’t overlook active lifestyle media, such as the The Red Bulletin (print circulation over 2 million plus online), as another way to stay in touch with your target consumers.
Bottom line: Many other factors surely have contributed to GoPro’s success, from pricing to partnerships. But as we thought about this concept of “passionately embracing the extreme,” we recalled similar themes in the stories of other brands covered in past Cloverview posts, including action sports companies, Turtle Shell speakers, Reef sandals, and Arrogant Bastard ale. Food for thought.