Why GoPro need to re-focus
Post by David Nichols, Managing Partner and Head of Invention
GoPro recently posted disappointing Q4 results, with sales down 31% and a loss of $34.5mill. Ow. This sent the share price down 19%, as reported here. Not so long ago, Go Pro was a Silicon Valley darling that came from nowhere to beat Sony, Samsung and others to lead the action camera market, becoming a $3.5 billion company.
What went wrong? In my analysis, GoPro have forgotten what made them famous. They need to re-focus and deliver better on their fundamentals.
1. Fix the value proposition.
The big new launch in 2015 was the GoPro Hero 4 Session. This smaller camera was initially priced at $399, but lacked the relevant benefits to justify this price positioning. Where was the easier interface, video screen, new editing software or extra features that made it distinctive from rising competitors? I wonder where the insight for this new camera came from: their users telling them what they needed or internal techies saying “We can make it a bit smaller”? In the end, most people (like me) thought it was a cute camera but not worth upgrading to from their Hero 3 or 4. The company has recognised the poor value proposition of the Hero 4 Session, cutting price first to $299 and then to $199.
2. Renovate the core
Encouragingly, GoPro seems to have recognised the need to renovate the core offer in 2016, and not just rely on new products. The company will upgrade the software used to edit photos and videos captured with its cameras. “The problem is it’s still too hard to offload, access, and edit GoPro content,” CEO Nicholas Woodman said here. He went on to explain that GoPro for Desktop will bring a “breakthrough in convenience”, including trimming of videos and sharing them directly to Facebook or YouTube.
3. Re-focus: less is more
GoPro used to have a simple range with just 3 cameras and 2 accessories that made up the GoPro range – all put together on a neat single stand with video screen atop it. Focused, clear and attractive. My recent trip to an electrical retailer showed this bas ballooned into a 2 full wall bays full of accessories and cameras. In fact, the cameras seem to be lost in amongst all the accessories. This has reduced impact, focus and clarity.
I believe they should brutally ‘cut the tail’ brutally to focus back on their hero products, a view shared by CEO Woodman. “Our challenge is to make GoPro simple,” he told analysts during a conference call, as reported here. Starting in April, GoPro will stop selling its entry-level cameras (Hero, Hero+, and Hero+ LCD). The streamlined product lineup has 3 key offers with simple price points: the $199 Hero4 Session, $399 Hero4 Silver, and $499 Hero4 Black.
4. Regain an edge at point of Sale
One of the key success factors of their amazing rise was their distinctive POS, as I posted on here. A small neat display with a cool video popped up in outdoor clothing stores (new channels) and in key spots in tech stores (like Dixons & BestBuy). But the competition has caught up, with many brands using video. For example, I recently saw four separate headphone brands with music videos playing in the same store. The GoPro video now looks pale and uninteresting in comparison. They need to get back to basics and make their in-store presence stand out again.
5. More distinctive comms.
GoPro have never been a classical advertising-led brand; they relied on users sharing cool content to a supremely cool tune whilst wearing their brand in plain view. But the advertising they do invest in could be more distinctive and impactful. Recent, very average print ads try and tell me “It’s my life”, a very generic insight, and don’t dramatise the idea of ” Be a Hero”. Capturing Fido the dog in the park doesn’t look that heroic, does it?! Its time to shout it order and prouder I suggest and get back to creating simple, standout comms that dramatises the brand idea.
GoPro looks like a great business that has let success cloud it’s marketing judgement. A sharp focus back on the fundamentals to grow the core should see them fulfil their initial promise: a tighter range with more relevant befits, brought to life in-store.