Fitness apps, wearables, and ‘health tracking as a business model’ companies are leveraging data to maintain and build stamina


‘Workout achievement’ social media posts, and scientific reports being promoted by competitors online are two examples of open source datasets that health and wellness companies are leveraging to reach new audiences, as well as roll out new products, and services.

In this article we will discuss:

The tremendous data troves that working out is generating 

In the ‘80s, and 90s if you wanted to exercise you would just pop a fitness tape into the VCR or go for a run. These days, most people are increasingly utilizing technology for fitness, meaning that there is increased information on both the input and output ends. 

Exercise input data

When I say input data I am referring to data that is generated through everything from the act of searching for information to actually viewing a workout routine. Here are some examples of what these datasets look like:

  • Social media – Many fitness consumers as well as trainers, fitness equipment companies, and training apps use social media in order to connect with target audiences. This may come in the form of a post about an individual’s weight loss journey, ads about a revolutionary home treadmill or groups where men discuss how to lose belly fat. All of which can and is being monitored by companies in the fitness space in order to better understand customer sentiment, engagement patterns, and goals. 
  • Search engines – Many people looking to get fit start their journey with a search engine query, such as ‘best way to lose weight in 10 days’, ‘cheap home workout equipment’, ‘morning workout routine’. By collecting data on these, companies can see what potential customers are looking for and tailor blog posts, and YouTube workout routines in order to get in front of relevant audiences. 
  • News stories – A lot of people who are trying to get in shape prefer reading articles and/or scientific studies which talk about which foods they should or should not be eating – for example: ‘Why nightshade vegetables cause inflammation, and which foods you should avoid?!’ Many of your competitors in the wellness field may actually commission scientists to run studies or surveys and then promote those articles through platforms like Taboola that present said articles through ‘Recommended For You’ boxes at the bottom of online news outlet sites. When you scan the web for these, you can see where your competition is investing large budgets in creating buzz around certain diets or exercise habits, and leverage this in a way that informs your own marketing, services, and product creation strategy. 

Exercise output data

Output data refers to the data consumers generate while actually exercising, or eating according to a certain diet. Wearables such as fitness watches, as well as fitness apps are leading the charge in this regard. Here are some examples of exercise output data:

  • Achievement sharing – More often than not, exercise data from someone’s personal fitness app or wearable is not available to the public. But what many companies overlook is the secondary data generated by, and voluntarily shared in open source form with the world. Take for example, someone who has just finished running 10 KM and has tracked his or her run with a fitness app. Many of these apps offer the ability to share achievements on social media, and many people do this as they are proud of themselves (and for good reason). But when these types of posts go up, a lot of useful data becomes available such as exercise location, the type of physical activity being performed, whether this was a solo or group endeavor etc. This information can help companies understand exercise behavioral patterns in order to create products that work to serve real people.
  • Engagement data – This data can come in a wide variety of forms. For example, companies collecting information on exercise videos and tutorials can learn a lot about customers in different geographies, and demographics. For example, in Switzerland in the winter you may see high engagement on skiing tutorials that show viewers stopping techniques whereas in Canada in the summer you may observe higher interest in lacing up roller blades. Other forms of engagement data may include the quantity of downloads for certain apps which can shed light on specific trends, such as apps that help people track how much water they have consumed, meditation apps, and calorie counters. 

Data-driven business strength training 

The above-mentioned data sets are just a fraction of the information that is being generated by consumers, and competitors but it is sufficient in order to give you an idea of the insights and value that can, and is currently being derived by industry leaders. Let’s take a look at a more specific example within the ‘health and wellbeing’ world: 

The nutrition industry 

This can include anything from Whey protein powder consumed after a workout, vitamins or full pre-made meals that dieters order directly to their home on a weekly basis. Let’s take the latter as an example – a company looking to sell pre-made meals will want to map their target audience including geolocation, current food consumption habits, nutrition/weight loss goals, as well as aspects that are important to consumers such as delivery, price, and freshness. 

This company may already have an existing product that they are looking to tweak or may be trying to roll out an entirely new product. If, for example, this company already knows that most of their current clientele consists of females in their 30s and 40s located on the east coast but are currently looking to broaden the scope of their audience, they can take a data-driven approach to performing market research. For example, they can decide to focus specifically on Instagram health influencers, collecting data on posts with the most engagement. A great example of this is the following post published by Nutrition Stripped @nutritionstripped. The post itself discusses using smoothies as a meal replacement, receiving 3,036 likes out of 360k account followers. This type of post may lead the company in question to start a new product line, offering home-delivered, ready-to-drink smoothies delivered directly to the customer’s kitchen. They may also choose to collaborate with ‘nutrtionstripped’ as an influencer who can promote their new line of products to her extensive follower base.

Source: Instagram

The bottom line 

A lot of what is happening in the fitness industry both on the consumer end as well as on the business end is happening online. When people search for a new diet, exercise video, nutrition advice, or when this information is shared online, it creates a digital footprint. As described in the previous section when discussing how a meal prep company can benefit from data, the scope is much broader than ‘just’ identifying a new target audience, product line, an influencer, or superfood trend. Real-time information collection and monitoring ensures that your company is constantly getting a live stream of fitness world data that enables you to make smarter, more relevant business decisions.