Misfit looks to leverage growth in ME wearables market

Niels van der Valk, Fossil’s regional director for consumer electronics in EMEA, outlines the brand’s plans for the Middle East

Tags: United Arab EmiratesWearable device
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Misfit looks to leverage growth in ME wearables market Van der Valk: "Users in the UAE are particularly tech-savvy, and take to and interact with new technology quite comfortably.”
By  David Ndichu Published  September 18, 2016

Globally, the wearables market is growing explosively, and the wearables market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is set to follow suit – according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the market surged 65.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year, when compared to that of the year before.

The future of MEA’s wearables market, meanwhile, looks bright too with IDC’s forecast estimating a compound annual growth rate of 20.1 per cent from now up until 2020.

In the UAE, specifically, fitness and activity trackers represent an area of strong growth. According to Fossil’s regional director for consumer electronics in the EMEA region, Niels van der Valk, this is because: “Users in the UAE are particularly tech-savvy, and take to and interact with new technology quite comfortably.”

He added, “The nation’s consumers are certainly interested in their wellness levels, but are simultaneously also sensitive to aesthetic appeal. They have a growing appetite for trackers that can record their activity and sleep while rank high on style factor.”

And this is the audience Fossil’s wearable tech brand Misfit is looking to gain ground with. The brand, which specialises in design-forward activity and sleep monitors, is scaling up its retail presence across the MEA region this summer, signalling its interest in growing the brand’s regional footprint.

“Our current focus is to grow our distribution network in the region – we will be expanding our in-store presence rapidly within the next six months, not just in the UAE but also in surrounding countries,” said Valk.

At the moment, Misfit is scaling up the availability of Ray – the brand’s latest product, released at the recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show) earlier this year. Ray is touted a stylish, versatile fitness and sleep monitor that’s not just an activity tracker but also serves as an accessory.

Shine 2, which marks the second generation of Misfit’s Shine, will also see an increased presence in the region. The disc-shaped activity monitor includes a watch function. Misfit recently also released the swimmer’s edition of Shine 2, co-branded with Speedo. The Speedo Shine 2 can tracks laps and allows users to set goals for their swim sessions.

“There are a lot of activity and sleep monitors on the market, but Misfit wins out because of its always-on functionality, it’s water-resistance of up to fifty metres and its style quotient,” noted Valk.

In fact, Misfit’s devices do not need to be charged – they run on batteries, which typically last up to six months before they need to be replaced. The benefit of this feature is that you almost never need to take it off your wrist, which is why it’s branded ‘always on’. Misfit Ray and Shine 2 are also water-resistant up to fifty metres, which means users can wear them in the shower.

“If consumers have to take off the product everyday, whether it’s for charging or to take a shower, at some point the product ends up forgotten in a drawer somewhere. With Misfit, we overcome that issue,” explained Valk. “We also think our products are far more fashionable than anything else out there. Soon, we’ll be releasing new colours and accessories.”

Misfit products also feature IoT integration, which marks an area of heavy projected growth in the region. When you tap the Ray or Shine device three times, you can switch on the lights at home, play the next song on your playlist, take a selfie or make your phone ring.

“We appeal to a very wide audience – we’re not just focussed on die-hard sports users. Our products are suited to users who want to measure and increase their wellness levels. Misfit products allow you to set simple fitness goals for yourself – for example, how many steps you’d like to take – or you can measure the quantity and quality of your sleep – when you fell asleep, how much deep sleep you got in a night,” said Valk.

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