In 2004, Nick Woodman offered his company’s first action camera for home use. Ten years later, the former niche product GoPro has become a hip accessory for the social media society; the company went public in 2014, with an evaluation of $2.95 B. We take a look at GoPro’s successful marketing strategy, and its questionable future as a media enterprise.
GoPro has become one of the great success stories of user-generated content marketing, by cleverly capitalizing on both the creativity of their customers, and the dynamics of social media. Their success was based, first of all, on their product.
Water- and adventure-proof: A high quality product
GoPro was the first action camera suitable for the target group of leisure athletes. Small, robust, easy to handle and equipped with compact mounting accessories, the HERO camera allowed even amateurs to create spectacular angles and thus produce professional images and videos. In addition, it was waterproof up to five meters deep, and available for a reasonable budget.
From consumer to hero: a targeted marketing approach
GoPro consciously targeted certain niches of hobby filmers; extreme athletes, adventurers, adrenalin junkies. By offering special mounting packages for motorsports, outdoor enthusiasts and surfers, they further sharpened their profile. GoPro customers can feel like heroes and were encouraged to share their videos on the company’s social media channels. It didn’t take long for the target group to jump at the opportunity.
The world’s biggest marketing team: user-generated content
Soon, GoPro customers filled up the company’s social media channels with self-produced, GoPro branded videos, which the audience at home eagerly watched. They regularly went viral, and so did the GoPro brand. While in the early days, the camera was only known to their core target groups, soon artists, both amateur and professional video producers, cyclists and travellers came on board.
GoPro further spurred them on, actively developing their social media communities and ‘Video of the Day’ promotions. Currently, GoPro boasts 10 million followers on facebook, 12 M on instagram and 5 M on YouTube. A considerable media power, also reflected in its figures: from 2012 to 2013, GoPro’s net sales doubled to $28 M, with a marketing budget of a mere $41k.
From niche to IPO
With an exploding customer base, a market share of 42% and the power of social media beneath their wings, GoPro dared to go public in 2014. In order to meet the stock market’s demand for growth, they developed ever more accessories, video production software and even their own, camera-compatible drone.
A cost-intensive strategy which led to various setbacks: the KARMA drone had to be pulled from the market only a month after being introduced, as it had shut down mid-flight. With their share prices crashing, GoPro started to get into trouble.
Hero or Icarus? GoPros search for new horizons
Facing a saturated core market, GoPro’s future will be decided by their ability to activate their ‘passive’ fans, turning watchers into content generating GoPro customers. The brand’s strong profile, ironically , seems to be a major hurdle to overcome, as many of those who love the adventurous videos feel their lives are not interesting enough to be GoPro content, while choosing other (cheaper) brands for their home videos. The company is attempting to meet this challenge by launching their first classic advertising campaign. An expensive new strategy with a yet uncertain outcome.