Fitbit beats back competition with wellness program

October 20, 2015, 1:05 PM UTC
Courtesy of Fitbit

It’s been a busy third quarter for Fitbit’s corporate wellness program, aptly called Fitbit Wellness. In September, Fitbit announced it was HIPAA compliant and would give Target’s 335,000 employees personal fitness trackers.

Fitbit’s wellness unit is the company’s business-to-business unit, where participating companies provide employees with Fitbit activity trackers, challenge employees to get active, and encourage healthier lifestyles.

The latest round of companies to sign on with Fitbit include GoDaddy, Emory University, Emory Healthcare, and Gonzaga University. In its third quarter, Fitbit added over 20 enterprise customers to its program. Although the company doesn’t release the total number of companies participating in its wellness program, it states that it’s worked with thousands of companies since 2009 and currently has “more than” 50 of the Fortune 500.

The most notable new addition to the program is Barclays. Beginning Nov. 2, 75,000 Barclays employees based in the U.S. and U.K. can visit a customized Fitbit storefront and purchase a subsidized Fitbit tracker. The initial rollout will be limited to select divisions, with plans to eventually expand the program to all of its 140,000 employees worldwide.

Meanwhile, Fitbit closed out its first quarter as a public company having sold a market-leading 4.5 million fitness trackers. Apple (AAPL) wasn’t far behind, having reportedly sold 3.6 million units of its first wearable, the Apple Watch.

With increased competition on the consumer front, Fitbit’s corporate wellness program could not come at a better time.

Participation and engagement are two challenges an employer faces when rolling out a corporate wellness program, according to Fitbit Wellness vice-president and general manager Amy McDonough. Another challenge is distributing trackers which, McDonough says, Fitbit is poised to eliminate by using its own distribution channels, instead of shipping trackers in bulk.

Another benefit of Fitbit handling distribution is that participating employees are now able to pick a device of his or her choosing instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. “Rather than ‘here’s your standard issue computer or tablet,’ it really lets them choose the best product that’s going to be the best fit for them,” McDonough says. Giving employees control over the purchase process is “going to have a big impact on the level of participation, and also engagement.”

Fitbit is scheduled to announce its third-quarter earnings on November 2, its second earnings announcement since going public in June.

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