GoPro stays the course

nhoskins    June 20, 2016

In search of a product strategy as its stock plummets, GoPro’s CEO keeps a shaky but steady hand at the helm.

Wall street analysts are gleefully beating up on the young company because they dared to shatter the image that GoPro is/was the next Apple (as soon as a company is likened to Apple it becomes a target for haters).

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for underdogs and for early stage companies that have customers that adore them. Exacerbating my GoPro Problem is that I use the company’s products, I love them and I regularly fan-girl the GoPro stars on YouTube.

Vis a Vis their cunning-yet-sincere customer engagement tactics they’ve asked for and delivered the love from/for their customers. I really get that the founders and the Board believe in what they do (as evidenced by their refusal to ditch GoPro’s CEO Nick Woodman).

It’s downright refreshing and as corny as it sounds I’m cheering them on. Turns out, I’m echoing what GoPro’s extremely loyal customer base feels about the brand. Behold GoPro’s indoctrinated following! These folks are going to help them find the right product strategy because they are invested wholly in the GoPro community.

GoPro users follow a three-step process. Broadly defined they are as follows: 1) They capture themselves on camera; 2) they edit and produce video or images, and 3) users share their lifestyle online. GoPro strives to improve the quality of the content shared in addition to making it easier and faster for their customers to navigate this process. To help with the production and sharing steps, GoPro released GoPro Studio software.

What to do to improve the quality of activity-capture?

GoPro has been assailed for its lack of R&D investment in new hardware: Eyebrows were raised eyebrows at the CES Conference when the partnership with YouTube was unveiled instead of the hotly anticipated quadcopter drone, Karma. Many focussed on the absence of the drone and missed that the High Dynamic Range video partnership with YouTube was astute: The partnership leverages GoPro’s position as the #1 channel on YouTube and that YouTube is, well….YouTube.

The move anticipates what many in the streaming and consumer electronics industries have noted: HDR will probably have a more profound impact on the watching experience than increases in resolution. GoPro demonstrates excellent foresight by embracing HDR.

On the hardware side, the partnership is a great way to usher in the new GoPro consumer-grade rig. The first rig introduced by GoPro – the Omni – represented the next evolution of the GoPro experience. However, at a costly $15,000 the Omni only appealed to video professionals. The company is set to release a consumer rig “soon.”  GoPro is optimally positioned to introduce a simple-to-use 360 camera to the masses. The YouTube partnership is about confirming that there is an interest in the GoPro community for such a device and what features are most valued.

Smart move.

Concurrently, GoPro partnered with Ubisoft to release a virtual reality game called Steep. Steep allows gamers to experience a GoPro-like challenge in a virtual environment. Gamers are a new set of customers for GoPro. Gamers – like the surfers and mountain-bikers in the GoPro community – are hyper-focussed on the quality of the experience and the accompanying video and imagery. Basically, gamers and Go-Pro-ers both want an authentically thrilling experience.

Regardless of what harsh critics on Wall Street say, Go Pro has demonstrated that they understand that their product is neither software or hardware: What the company is selling is action – uplifting thrilling action.

Lessons for Others

The new GoPro product mix aims to deliver just that. Trying out new products to determine market receptiveness is part in parcel of doing business.   As long as GoPro sticks to engaging their customers, they will eventually come up with a winner.

Organization: GoPro
Industry: Consumer electronics
Name of Organization Contact: Nick Woodman, CEO

Authored by: Noreen S. Hoskins

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