I haven’t talked about CrossFit in over 6 weeks and am starting to twitch, so in this week’s post I will be discussing ROMWOD, a digital product whose main target customer is CrossFitters.
ROMWOD stands for Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day. ROMWOD was created in 2014 and is a form of yin yoga packaged into a daily video streaming program to help athletes optimize range of motion, increase athletic performance, and promote recovery. ROMWOD is intended to supplement the rigors of daily CrossFit workouts. Videos are typically 15-20 minutes in length and can be streamed anywhere, anytime, and on any device with a web browser through ROMWOD.com. Videos consist of an athlete or two going through that day’s programming, a voiceover walking you through the poses and breathing exercises, and calming background music. No equipment is needed, other than a yoga mat for comfort and sometimes a stretching band.
At-home exercise and stretching videos have been around for decades: from Richard Simmons, to Billy Blanks, to P90X. A major problem with these at-home video series was that the product was a set of VHS/DVDs that you received via mail. This meant you received a handful of workouts that you had to repeat over and over and over until you quit from boredom. A daily streaming product such as ROMWOD could not have existed even 10 years ago. With today’s technology and proliferation of smart phones/devices, anyone with a camera and basic video editing skills can create a website or YouTube channel and stream workouts to a wide audience.
For $13.95 per month, individuals receive unlimited streaming and daily programming. For reference, the average drop-in price for a class at a yoga studio is $10 to $20.
For $24.95 per month, CrossFit gyms receive the ability to stream ROMWOD in a class setting which creates additional value for its members. For reference, hiring a yoga instructor to host classes at a gym would likely cost the gym-owners $5 per student. Now all that’s needed is a small monthly fee and a smart TV for streaming.
Yoga is nothing new, but wrap it up, tie a CrossFit bow around it, make it easily accessible…sign us up! In addition to targeting a niche market of CrossFitters, I believe ROMWOD’s success is largely due to its use of social media.
1. ROMWOD has 239K followers on Instagram, 61.4K on Facebook, and 14.3K on Twitter. From these numbers, and my experience as a user and follower, it’s clear that ROMWOD relies heavily on Instagram to promote and build its brand. ROMWOD’s Instagram activity seems to fall into 4 main buckets:
- Photos of people doing ROMWOD in cool places.
- Photos of people doing ROMWOD with their dogs or babies.
- Photos and videos of ROMWOD sponsored athletes lifting heavy sh*t or exercise-racing really fast.
- Quips, memes, and motivational quotes related to exercise, stretching, breathing, life.
These posts create a casual, fun, and community-based persona for the brand. Staying true to their relaxed brand, other than a link in their bio offering a free one-week trial, ROMWOD does not push you to buy the product in any of their Instagram activity.
2. ROMWOD created a slogan, “Swole and Flexy”, to help create a memorable image in the customer’s mind and build brand identity. CrossFitters are known more for their weightlifting and pullups (the “Swole”), but not so much for their yoga and stretching (the “Flexy”). The use of the hashtag #swoleandflexy in social media activity quickly shares with users the benefits of the product.
3. ROMWOD has also helped promote itself by jumping on the meme train. At this point I think most people have heard of the viral sex catchphrase “Netflix and chill”. ROMWOD uses a play on this phase, “ROMWOD and chill”, as fun and lighthearted way to gain attention and sell merchandise.
1. Password sharing: Similar to other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, ROMWOD is not immune to the issue of people sharing passwords. Originally there were zero restrictions on password sharing and it was common for users to share with friends and split the cost. I’m not sure if this was intentional on ROMWOD’s part or not (similar to HBO) but this approach lowered the barriers to joining and increased user base. However, about a year ago ROMWOD updated their Terms and Conditions to disallow password sharing and implemented features that prevent users from streaming on more than 1 device at a time. It will be interesting to see if this discourages new customers.
2. Copycats: There is nothing proprietary about ROMWOD’s product or business model, which opens the door for copycats to try entering the market by offering a better or cheaper product. An example is Movement Vault, which was created in June 2017 and based on a more active stretching approach. Movement Vault is undercutting ROMWOD on price in attempt to gain market share. Movement Vault offers individual and gym memberships for $9.99 and $19.99 per month, respectively. Movement Vault only has 2.4K followers on Instagram (compared to ROMWOD’s 239K), so I think its clear ROMWOD has a first-mover advantage right now.
3. App-less: The biggest complaint surrounding ROMWOD is the lack of an iOS and Android app. Users can stream from any device but need to access the steaming service through a web browser (first world problems, I know…). ROMWOD has been commenting for over a year that they are working on an app, but nothing yet. Movement Vault also lacks an app, so this could potentially be an opportunity for a new product to enter the market.
I believe ROMWOD’s heavy and creative use of Instagram to build a strong following and promote its brand has given it enough of a first-mover advantage to protect it from undifferentiated, lower-priced products. ROMWOD is a strong example of using technology to transform an existing product, making it accessible, and fulfilling a previously unidentified market.