Here’s a follow up on our project 🙂
Founded in 1936, Suunto is a Finnish manufacturer of sports instruments for adventurers worldwide. Suunto’s product line ranges from premium sports watches to accessories that aid in various sports such as diving, climbing, and triathlons. In Singapore, Suunto’s merchandise are available at sports retailers such as World Sports and Royal Sporting House.
Internationally, Suunto is a highly-recognised brand, with a substantial following of 382,245 fans on its global Facebook page (@Suunto). These fans receive frequent updates regarding Suunto’s partnerships, brand ambassadors, and product information.
Singapore is a promising market for Suunto as tech wearables such as sports watches are becoming increasingly popular, with a 69% increase in retail volume in 2016 (Euromonitor, 2016). However, Suunto has been unable to fulfil its business potential in Singapore, as our conversations with the company reveal that consumer awareness and sales levels remain low.
Suunto Singapore believes that social media can help them achieve their business goals. The trend of sharing fitness tips on social media, coupled with Singaporeans’ high mobile and internet penetration rates have led to increased integration of social media with fitness (Euromonitor, 2016). Additionally, sports and fitness enthusiasts are the main sharers of fitness information on social media (Euromonitor, 2016) thus indicating how social media can raise awareness of sports-related wearable technology.
Thus, our project seeks to answer the following research question: How Suunto can use social media to increase brand awareness among athletes and sports enthusiasts, so as to forge a strong community around the brand and increase sales in the long run.
Currently, Suunto Singapore targets male athletes between the ages of 18 to 30-years-old that exercise two to six times a week, for at least three hours each. Based on this information and further research, our group expanded the target audience to include females and water sports enthusiasts. This is because of the growing number of women who have an interest in sports and fitness (Euromonitor, 2015), as well as Suunto’s core competency in dive computers that give it a competitive advantage in manufacturing watches for water sports.
Our primary research comprised of 19 in-depth interviews and an observational study. For the in-depth interviews, we interviewed individuals who considered themselves as sports enthusiasts for an average of 20 minutes each, guiding them through a structured discussion on their awareness of sports watch brands, current lifestyle, and social media usage. We then conducted an observational study at MacRitchie Reservoir Park to gain insights on the social media usage patterns of sports watch users and non-users. Their opinions assisted us in identifying strengths and weaknesses of Suunto’s current social media strategy.
In-depth Interviews (IDIs)
We started the interviews by asking broad questions to gain insights from our participants and progressed to more in-depth questions targeting their perceptions on sports watches and their social media habits. To glean a better representative of each segment, participants included male and female users and non-users of sports watch brands, from various income groups.
Most IDI participants had positive perceptions of sports watches and would use one if it can enhance their trainings. However, only 21% of the participants have heard of Suunto, compared to 74% who have heard of Garmin and 26% who have heard of Polar. This suggests that Suunto has very low brand awareness compared to its main competitor, Garmin.
As for social media habits, 94% of the participants use Facebook as their main social media channel, mainly to keep up with the latest news and trends. The high usage rates can be attributed to positive network effects as there are more than 1.23 billion daily active users, thus making Facebook the most popular social network worldwide (Statista, n.d.). Hence, Facebook is an important platform in increasing consumer awareness of Suunto, and our group will utilize a pull strategy to attract users to the page.
Additionally, 84% of participants also mentioned Instagram as one of their most frequently used social media channels. Participants explained that while they use Facebook to gain general information, Instagram is used to share photos and personal milestones with a smaller, more intimate circle of contacts. This helped our group understand how target users’ media habits differ across platforms. We will thus include Instagram in Suunto’s social media campaign as it can help us reach consumers on a more personal level.
Next, 47% of participants also listed Snapchat as one of their most frequently used social media platforms. Participants explained that Snapchat is used to post photos and videos that are less visually aesthetic, such as funny faces or mundane everyday scenes. A small percentage of participants also highlighted that they enjoyed reading listicles in Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ section, which are published by Snapchat’s content partners. As such, we can capitalize on this small but substantial percentage of users by pushing out relevant information on sports and fitness.
Lastly, most participants said they would follow brands online if these brands had engaging stories and attractive giveaways. Therefore, we should capitalize on Suunto’s rich history in manufacturing diving computers to establish trust in their product quality, modernize this story to be more relatable to consumers’ needs, and carry out periodic giveaways to further engage consumers.
We observed 200 runners at MacRitchie Reservoir Park to find out the percentage of sports enthusiasts who own a sports watch, and among these, who owns a Suunto watch. 61 runners (30%) use a sports watch to track key workout statistics. Out of those 61 runners, only 1.5% had a Suunto watch while others used watches from competitor brands Garmin (64%), Polar (18%), Fitbit (13%), and Timex (3%). In terms of social media habits, out of the 61 people who wore sports watches, 90% of them also engaged with their mobile phone. Out of these 55 mobile phones users, 54 were surfing social media platforms on their phone, with 70% using Facebook and 30% using Instagram.
Facebook boasts 3.5 million active users every month in Singapore, and is used to keep updated on the latest product and brand offerings (Kantar TNS, 2015). Majority of Singaporeans (60%) used a search engine to aid them in their purchase decisions (Google Barometer, 2014), with Facebook ranked among the top three search engine/social media sites that Singaporeans used to do so (Alexa, 2015).
The number of Instagram users in Singapore has been growing steadily every year, from 51% in 2014 to 63% in 2016. 85% of Instagram users in the APAC region are aged between 16 to 24-years-old. Instagram users cite the appeal of highly-curated, beautifully-edited pictures as the reason for using the platform (Lawrence, 2016).
Meanwhile, Snapchat usage in Singapore has doubled from 19% in 2015 to 37% in 2016 (Lawrence, 2016). An analysis of Snapchat usage found that the platform is best for “raw, in-the-moment, humorous” content (Lawrence, 2016). Furthermore, Snapchat’s user demographics comprise of 70% females (Macmillan, 2013), and 71% of users are under 34-years-old (Reisinger, 2015). More than half (58%) of Snapchat users in the APAC region are aged between 16 to 24-years-old (Lawrence, 2016), thus falling within Suunto’s target audience.
With the increase in Singaporeans’ adoption of these platforms, brands can more easily access and engage with their target audience. However, 22% of consumers in Singapore ignore online content from brands, because they perceive such efforts as invasive (Lawrence, 2016). Thus, brand content must be integrated naturally into the platform, be tailored specifically to the chosen platform, and offer content that provides value to consumers.
More engaging content can be produced through collaboration with online influencers, with almost half of consumers aged 16 to 24-years-old (40%) saying that they trust what other people say about brands rather than official sources such as brand websites (Lawrence, 2016).
Premium Sports Watches
Garmin is Suunto’s closest competitor in Singapore due to their similar product offerings and pricing strategies in the field of premium sports watches. Known for its GPS technology in industries such as auto motives and aviation, its venture into wearable technology has greatly increased competition in the sports watch industry (Anderson, 2013).
Although Polar is also considered as a close competitor of Suunto (Hall, 2016), due to their lack of social media presence in Singapore, Polar will not be included in this competitor analysis.
Both Suunto and Garmin have a social media presence in Singapore. Both brands have a Facebook page, but only Garmin has a local Instagram account.
Suunto Singapore’s Facebook presence is markedly less established when compared with Garmin. While Suunto has 380,000+ followers on its old Facebook page (@SgSuunto) and 2300+ followers on its current Facebook page (@Singapore.Suunto), both still trail behind Garmin, which has 1,500,000+ followers on its Singapore page (@GarminSG).
Unlike Suunto, Garmin has localised its social media strategy and expanded its content beyond product promotion and general events. Garmin’s more engaging social media strategy has helped the brand achieve top-of-mind-awareness as noted during our IDIs, and a strong social media presence in Singapore (Socialbakers, 2017a).
Comparing Suunto’s content with Garmin’s, the latter shares articles, fitness tips, and their brand ambassadors’ lifestyle and training insights to facilitate interaction and engagement with consumers, resulting in approximately 264 interactions per week compared to Suunto’s 24.
As mentioned previously, Suunto does not have a Singapore-based Instagram account. Garmin, however, has a Singapore-based Instagram page (@GarminSG) with 2,466 followers. From December 2016 to March 2017, a total of 77 posts were uploaded, amounting to approximately six posts a week.
Garmin’s page enjoys an average of 440 interactions per week (Socialbakers, 2017b), and publishes targeted, consistent, and localised content in tandem with their Facebook page.
Not having an Instagram page means that Suunto is not reaching a large swathe of its target audience, especially millennials (19 to 29-year-olds), who are very active on Instagram (Pew Research Center, 2015). As our primary research also finds that Instagram is among the most popular social media platforms for sports-related content, Suunto is clearly forfeiting a significant opportunity to reach and engage with its target audience.
Activity Tracker Watches
In addition to competing with premium sport watch brands, Suunto also competes with activity tracker watch brands such as Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple. As both Samsung Gear and Apple Watch do not have a social media presence in Singapore, our evaluation will only include Fitbit Singapore.
Fitbit has a dedicated local account on Facebook (@FitbitSG), which has garnered over 1,894,018 fans as of March 2017 (Fitbitsg, 2017). The page features regular updates, with at least one post per day. Content ranges from product updates to health, fitness, and nutrition tips. Unlike Garmin, Fitbit appeals to the mass market and does not demonstrate a localised strategy. However, as Suunto is a premium sports watch brand with a niche market, it should develop a localised strategy like Garmin’s to enable its target audience to better identify with the brand (Omuus, 2016).
Similar to Suunto, Fitbit does not have an Instagram account in Singapore. Hence, with respect to its competitor’s social media strategies, Suunto should take necessary actions to stay competitive.
CURRENT SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS
Having evaluated Suunto’s social media efforts using the data obtained from Socialbakers (December 2016 to March 2017), these are our findings:
Facebook is the only social media platform Suunto utilizes in Singapore. In mid-2016, Suunto Singapore moved from its old Facebook page (@SgSuunto) to (@Singapore.Suunto). However, while its active Facebook page has only 2300 fans, the inactive, yet verified page has approximately 165-times more followers (SgSuunto, 2017), which may cause confusion among current and potential fans. Also, by only being present on Facebook, Suunto loses opportunities to build better relations with its target audience, who are active on other platforms.
Frequency of Posts
Suunto only published 14 Facebook posts in the three-month-period, posting approximately once a week. While social media can build brand awareness and foster consumer engagement, Suunto’s limited and irregular posting prevents them from reaping these benefits.
Quality of Posts
Suunto posts two types of content: product promotions and event updates. Posts on product updates comprise of product photos with a lengthy caption and website link, while event updates feature the Suunto Fitness Group (SFG). Currently, these posts only comprise the event date, time, and location, without any follow-up photos or videos to document the session. Although these posts are relevant to the brand, they are not engaging, and instead come across as generic and lacking in variety. Additionally, Suunto has not adopted a localised social media strategy, which could make the brand unappealing to locals.
Over the three-month-period, (@Singapore.Suunto) received an average of only 24 interactions per week. Promoted posts represented 104 of the share of interactions, while organic and undetected amount to 55 and 150 respectively. This shows that Suunto adopts an unappealing one-way social media strategy, without providing opportunities for user interaction. Additionally, the lack of localised or varied content results in poor reach and engagement levels among Singaporean users.
EVALUATION OF CURRENT SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
According to Hutter et al. (2013), a brand’s social media presence is important in increasing consumer’s brand awareness, word-of-mouth, and ultimately, drives consumer purchase intentions. However, Suunto’s current level of brand awareness is very poor, with 85% of IDI participants being unaware of the brand. This problem is exacerbated by having two locally-based Facebook pages. The lack of clear communication regarding the transition to the new page may prevent interested users from following Suunto on Facebook. Thus, Suunto needs to clearly designate the page that fans should follow by deleting the old page and getting the new page officially verified, so that users who search for Suunto Singapore will be directed to the new page.
In terms of engagement, Suunto’s current social media strategy does not sufficiently engage its fans as they do not produce content that inspire discussion amongst followers and promote two-way interaction. Also, as Suunto currently does not have local Instagram and Snapchat accounts, they should create both accounts before implementing the following social media strategies, as these are the second and third most popular platforms among their target audience.
PROPOSED SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
To increase brand awareness and create opportunities for user interaction and engagement, we will use brand storytelling to highlight (1) Suunto’s expertise as a pioneer in its field, (2) how Suunto makes its users ‘stronger together’ and (3) Suunto’s value of inclusivity. These three main facets can create a cohesive brand story for Suunto – a brand that has the expertise to help sports and fitness enthusiasts train better.
As such, we devised three strategies to be organically implemented across Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, the three most popular social media channels used by Suunto’s target audience.
Our first strategy, Suunto Heritage, emphasises Suunto’s rich history of pioneering dive technology before having diversified into premium technologies for other sports such as running and mountaineering. By effectively communicating their heritage, premium brands can improve consumer perception and increase purchase intentions, as consumers of premium goods associate brands with a long, rich history with expertise in producing superior products (Chelminski & DeFanti, 2016). In addition, 42% of IDI participants mentioned that a brand’s history was one of the factors influencing their purchase decisions. Thus, by communicating their rich heritage, Suunto can differentiate itself from competitors and gain awareness amongst target consumers.
Secondly, our Stronger with Suunto strategy aims to convey product benefits that resonate with our target audience, through emotional motivators. Social media influencers will be engaged to push information regarding Suunto’s products and launch conversations regarding the functionality of Suunto watches. This form of native advertising can increase product awareness and the credibility of our marketing message (Gerberich, 2017) by demonstrating how Suunto’s products are crucial in the enhancement of a user’s training experience (Morrison, 2015). This can result in more fully-connected customers, who are 52% more valuable to brands in terms of purchase and usage frequency (Leemon, Magids & Zorfas, 2015). Therefore, highlighting how users can be stronger with Suunto’s products can increase product awareness and opportunities to engage with the target audience.
Lastly, highlighting Suunto’s brand image as inclusive can appeal to all types of individuals, increasing the likelihood of brand patronage. This is in line with Suunto’s defining strength – its wide range of products catering to all kinds of sports. By building on Suunto’s value of inclusivity through targeting users across sports and genders, Suunto’s diverse target audience can better identify with the brand. Once consumers identify with the brand, brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth increases (Han, Kim & Park, 2001). Indeed, 57% of IDI participants mentioned that they were attracted to brand stories that they could identify with. As such, Suunto’s story can centre around inclusivity, and how gender, physical disabilities, and other characteristics are not barriers to greatness, but can be instead seen as a uniting force to conquer new territories with the help of Suunto products. With a greater number of users interested in the brand, Suunto can build an online community who are united and interested to engage with the brand.
Through a cohesive brand story, our target audience will be able to identify Suunto as a brand with the best expertise to help all sports and fitness enthusiasts train better.
- To increase interest and brand awareness among competitive athletes and sports enthusiasts.
- Differentiate Suunto from other sports watch brands such as Garmin and Polar.
Suunto Heritage utilizes a pull strategy with a mix of videos, pictures, and infographics to increase current and potential consumers’ understanding of Suunto by featuring Suunto’s rich history of innovation.
Time Period: April 2017 – June 2017
Goals for Facebook are in percentages as it builds on Suunto’s existing fans and views, while goals for Instagram and Snapchat are in numbers as Suunto does not have existing Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
A video providing an overview on the milestones of Suunto’s sports watches over the years will be released to mark the start of the campaign.
Subsequently, text content such as articles and infographics on Suunto’s heritage will be posted weekly to showcase past Suunto watch models and how they were made. This provides consumers with a deeper understanding of the expertise behind Suunto’s product development.
High-definition pictures will be posted on Instagram weekly, with each picture featuring a vintage sports watch, a historical figure, or watch-making process, along with an insightful caption. Users will be invited to visit Facebook to read the full article.
As IDIs have shown that consumers enjoy discovering short, interesting titbits of content on Snapchat, snaps will be posted on Suunto’s Snapchat to celebrate the brand’s milestone anniversaries.
Stronger with Suunto
- Increase product awareness and interest among current and potential Suunto users
- Promote engagement between Suunto and the target audience
Stronger with Suunto taps into local influencers’ existing clout in the sporting community to reach out to current and potential of Suunto watches, with the goal of increasing product awareness and engagement.
The influencers for this strategy are chosen based on their betweenness and closeness to our target audience and their embodiment of Suunto’s core values of “Innovation”, “Determination” and “Inclusivity”. The high betweenness quotient will increase the reach of Suunto‘s social media efforts, while high closeness allows Suunto to more effectively call for action and collect feedback from the target audience.
Time Period: April 2017 – June 2017
Yip Pin Xiu embodies Suunto’s spirit of conquering new territories by showing that an indomitable spirit can overcome any obstacle. By partnering with her, Suunto will be making a clear statement that we are inclusive and support athletes of all backgrounds. Pin Xiu is also a good fit for Suunto because Suunto’s aqua watches can significantly improve her training by keeping track of her physiology and training progress.
Timothee Yap’s role as a student-athlete will resonate with a large percentage of Suunto’s target audience and his massive 16.4k reach on Instagram will significantly boost Suunto’s reach on social media. Furthermore, Suunto’s land watches will be helpful in tracking his training variables and in planning his recovery sessions.
Product reviews, blog posts, listicles and media coverage of Suunto’s influencers will be shared on Facebook, with content published thrice weekly.
Paid content such as product features and reviews from tech-focused content portals like TechCrunch and RunnersWorld aim to increase product awareness among users seeking information on Suunto’s products. The links can also promote engagement in the form of shares and comments among Suunto users.
In-house content will mainly be focused on informational articles on Suunto’s products. These articles can be taken from Suunto’s global editorial team, and if necessary, be repackaged for the Singaporean market by localizing the content. Additionally, Suunto can engage in brand journalism and content marketing by publishing content such as posts highlighting the functionality of Suunto watches. Suunto can also exhibit thought leadership by producing original articles such as “How exercise increases happiness”, that are less sales-focused but still introduce Suunto’s business while branding them as a fitness and sports expert. By producing such content, Suunto can increase product awareness and engage with consumers experiencing the zero-moment-of-truth (ZMOT) purchase behaviour (Lecinski, 2011). This is validated by our primary research, with our IDIs revealing that Suunto’s target audience use social media to collect information before making a purchase. Thus, Suunto must increase their social media reach to build interest amongst consumers and create brand awareness, which can lead to an increase in product sales.
General content includes news articles about general fitness, land, and aqua sports, in addition to local athletes’ achievements that can double as media coverage of Suunto’s influencers. This provides an additional avenue for Suunto to engage with current and potential users, as the inspirational nature of these articles is likely to invite likes and shares beyond Suunto’s current follower base.
Based on IDIs, 78% of participants mentioned that they would be attracted to social media campaigns offering giveaways, and that they will not only be motivated to contribute, but will also tell their friends about the giveaways.
As such, Timothee and Pin Xiu will each promote a single monthly giveaway with two posts per week, using the #strongerwithsuunto hashtag to promote Suunto’s Spartan Ultra watch as the prize.
This incentive can increase engagement between Suunto and our target audience. According to the Social Exchange Theory (Emerson, 1976), consumers will interact with brands only if the benefits outweigh the costs of doing so. Thus, providing watches as prizes greatly increases the expected benefit of the interaction, while inspiring word-of-mouth around the brand.
Alongside the giveaways, content detailing the functionalities of products will be posted to increase product awareness and encourage discussion among fans. These posts can also nurture fandomization, where fans who take pride in being part of the Suunto community will not only engage in apprenticeship behaviour to educate new fans, but also be motivated to prove their ownership of the brand by interacting with posts and sharing their thoughts and knowledge (Netzer, 2016).
Snapchat will complement Stronger with Suunto’s Facebook and Instagram content by encouraging the conversion of views into sales. Sunny, Suunto’s Snapchat personality, will helm Suunto’s Snapchat, as IDIs found that consumers usually follow personalities instead of brands on Snapchat. Sunny will share fitness tips every Friday for the Fitness Friday campaign, share promotional codes for the Mega-Sale Monday campaign, and announce new product launches for the Sneak Peek Saturday campaign.
- Retain new and existing fans through social media engagement
- Build an online community around the Suunto brand
To promote sustainable interest in Suunto after the Suunto Heritage and Stronger with Suunto campaigns, our third strategy builds an online community around sports, fitness, and the Suunto brand. Continual engagement by encouraging community interaction can strengthen loyalty to the Suunto brand.
Pin Xiu and Timothee can initiate the creation of the online community, Suunto Tribe. Suunto’s social media platforms will be a dialog Magnet to increase conversation, grow network effects, increase word-of-mouth, and strengthen brand loyalty by sharing stories of training with their teammates while using Suunto products.
Time Period: June 2017 – August 2017
As Suunto will be active on all three social media platforms by the start of the Suunto Tribe strategy, all goals are in percentages as they build on existing fans and views.
Monthly live streams in the form of AMA(ask-me-anything) s with Pin Xiu and Timothee will be held on Suunto’s Facebook page, where they will answer questions and share how Suunto watches enhance their training performance.
Suunto can set questions centred around the campaign themes of inclusivity and being stronger together. Additionally, besides asking questions and finding out more about their favourite influencers, Suunto fans can forge community bonds by posting comments and interacting with other users on the page.
Picture posts on Instagram with the hashtag #suuntotribe can foster a community spirit among existing Suunto followers, while motivating potential users to switch to Suunto for its positive and inclusive community. Users will be encouraged to share pictures accompanied with captions about how Suunto enhances their trainings and can find like-minded Suunto users by tapping on the hashtag #suuntotribe.
Pin Xiu and Timothee will feature in picture posts on their own as well as Suunto’s Instagram page discussing topics such as “Why I love my #suuntotribe”. Photos of them exercising will be accompanied by anecdotes on why they feel that Suunto nurtures a sense of community and togetherness.
To foster two-way interaction on these posts and to promote Suunto’s complementary accessories, Suunto can tap into the Social Exchange Theory (Emerson, 1976) by hosting weekly giveaways to motivate users to share their own stories in response to the influencers’ posts. Users with especially engaging posts will receive a Suunto accessory to enhance their training.
Snapchat will complement Suunto Tribe’s Facebook and Instagram content and establish a personal relationship with viewers.
Sunny Search will be held weekly, where Suunto’s Snapchat personality, Sunny, will post a snap at an unidentified running route and invite viewers to guess the location of the route by replying to the snap. The answer will be revealed the following Wednesday through an aesthetic picture post on Instagram, thus capitalizing on the different strengths of Suunto’s platforms. This strategy can increase brand identity by humanising the brand, and utilizes the Psychological Ownership Theory (Pierce, Kostova & Dirks, 2001), which states that users enjoy a feeling of validation from providing their opinions to the community, to encourage replies and guesses to Sunny Search despite the lack of extrinsic rewards.
Takeover Tuesday allows prominent sports influencers to take over Suunto’s Snapchat account for one day every fortnight. These takeovers provide viewers with exclusive, personal insights into the influencer’s daily life, and shows them being part of the Suunto Tribe by incorporating Suunto watches in their workout.
To attract participants for the SFGs, Suunto can post snaps of attendees using Suunto watches during training, and emphasise the sense of community and camaraderie. This allows viewers to see the Suunto products at work and witness the #suuntotribe spirit as attendees exercise and bond together. To sustain engagement, Suunto can invite surprise guests, such as the influencers, to take part in the SFGs, and highlight new running routes, diving spots, and fitness tips that emerge in each session.
All strategies will be evaluated on a whole based on their reach, frequency and quality of posts, as well as engagement at the end of the stipulated campaign period to determine its success.
Based on our research, the proposed strategies will lead to a significant improvement in Suunto’s social media content. An improvement in content quality, frequency, and online interactions can reinforce Suunto’s brand and increase reach and consumer engagement. As the recommended strategies were developed to capitalize on Suunto’s strengths and give Suunto a competitive advantage over its competitors, both in the short-term (through Suunto Heritage and Stronger with Suunto), and the long-term (through Suunto Tribe), our group is confident that the implementation and constant evaluation of our strategies will lead to Suunto’s increased online presence and sales in the Singapore market.
Last but not least, our group would like to thank Prof Shim for the valuable and engaging lessons, Pui Fang for answering our queries so earnestly and writing the weekly summaries that came in very handy in our preparation for finals and everyone else in the class for your insightful questions during class and the friendliness shown whenever we asked for help 🙂
Crystal,Jun Yong, Nicole, Samantha, Theodora