Guide to Fitness & Sports specific watches

The Fitness/Sports specific watch category is growing rapidly, and it makes sense for watch retailers to sell fitness specific watches. After all, many people who buy regular watches are also buying fitness watches-and that’s business that you shouldn’t just relinquish to the local sporting goods store. You know watches, and every watch brand we talked with would rather have a watch retailer selling their watches than a kid at a specialty fitness store.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Fitness/Sports Specific watches.

What is the Definition of a Fitness/Sports Specific Watch?

A Fitness or Sports Specific watch is purpose-built for fitness and/or specific sports use, and it has features that are usually only found in these kinds of watches. For example, many watches, including high-end mechanicals and automatics, have chronograph functions, but fitness watches have a chronograph function, often called a stop watch, along with lap times, split times, countdown timers, the ability to store lap times, the ability to communicate with a computer and much, much more.

How Big is the Market for Fitness/Sports Specific Watches?

The market is big and getting bigger every day. As people become more aware of health and fitness issues, fitness/sports specific watches will become more important. Currently, health clubs represent a $17 billion industry, and that industry is growing at a rate of 20% every year.

There are no figures available for fitness watch growth, but every brand American Time interviewed expressed high expectations for the continued growth of this category, especially if watch retailers get more involved.

What Features Should a Fitness/Sports Specific Watch Have?

The standard feature set for these kinds of watches includes:

  • Easy to read digital displays
  • Stopwatch/Chronograph function
  • Lap/Split times
  • Countdown Timer
  • Durable mineral crystal
  • Shock resistance
  • At least 50m water resistance

These are only starting points, as the higher priced and more specific sports watches include features like the ability to store lap/split times (up to 100 or more), interval training features, heart rate measurement and display, global positioning, distance and speed readouts, electronic compasses, barometers, altimeters and much more. Some of the highest end fitness watches do just about everything but work out for you.

How Important is Heart Rate Readout in a Fitness/Sports Specific Watch?

Heart rate readout, the ability to display an accurate, constant reading of the user’s heart rate, is becoming much more important in watches. It’s seen as the next logical step for people who use a fitness watch.

There are several different ways to capture heart rate, but by far the most accurate is the use of a chest strap which sends an infrared signal to the watch, which then displays the heart rate readout. There are lower-end watches that feature a “pulse” function, but this is not as accurate; it isn’t a constant reading since the user has to do something to get the reading (i.e. put his/her thumb on a sensor, place fingers on sensors, etc.), and it usually requires the user to stop the exercise to get the heart rate readout, which pretty much defeats the purpose, because it doesn’t give you the readout while exercising.

Why is Heart Rate Readout Important?

Athletes and people concerned with their fitness levels use heart rate readout to gauge the level of intensity of their workouts to make sure they are working at the right intensity (neither too high nor too low). Having constant readout, along with alarms that alert the user when heart rate comes out of the training zone, is vital to athletes and serious fitness participants.

How Do You Sell a Fitness/Sports Specific Watch?

It all boils down to knowledge. You need to know your customer and know the product. Even if you just sell high-end timepieces right now, chances are someone in your customer’s family works out and needs a fitness/sports specific watch. All you have to do is ask-talk to your customers, find out what sports they participate in and match them up with the right watch. If they are runners, they’ll need a watch with split times. If they are trail or adventure runners, they would appreciate a watch that tells them how far they’ve gone, how fast they’ve gone, where they are, how much altitude they have gained or lost and more. If they are serious about their fitness, they are going to want a heart rate display watch.

Listening to your customers is the most important part of the equation-are they sophisticated enough to work some of the functions on the higher end watches, or do they really just need the basics? If you sell them a watch that is too complicated for them, or has features on it they won’t use, they’re going to get frustrated quickly. If, on the other hand, you sell the watch that is perfect for them, you’ll have a customer for life.

What Do You Have to Know in Order to Sell a Fitness/Sports Specific Watch?

Product knowledge is also vital to selling fitness watches. If you don’t know what a watch does, or how to use it, it’s next to impossible to sell customers the right watch for them. Some customers will know all about a watch before they walk into your door, so the sale will be simple. Most customers, however, don’t know exactly what they want or need, so they have to be walked through the product line and matched with the right product. Watch retailers are accomplished at doing this, and they do it every day, just not with fitness goals and needs thrown into the mix.

All watch brands will train you in their products, so learning about the watches isn’t arduous. It will just take some time and a commitment to this product category.

According to the experts, you don’t have to be an exercise physiologist to sell these kinds of watches. All you need to know is how the watch works, which does take some time and training, but the good news is that today’s watches are much more user friendly than their earlier iterations. Most of them are very intuitive. For the more complicated watches, the customers are going to know exactly what they want and need, you just need to determine which watches match the feature set they need.

Who Makes and Distributes Fitness/Sports Specific Watches?

The major manufacturers of Fitness/Sports Specific watches are Oakley, Timex, Nike, Freestyle, Polar, Suunto, and others.