Thanks to GoPro, pretty much nothing is unfilmable. Just check out this video offering footage of what it’s like to fly from an eagle’s point of view, or this one for a front-row seat to an owl dance-off. It was this idea, having a camera that could quite literally go anywhere, that inspired the founder & CEO Nick Woodman while on a surfing trip around Australia and Indonesia. Strategic partnerships with key investors got the tech company off the ground, but it was customers merely posting their own videos that got the product on Twitter and Facebook feeds across the country.
The company was founded in 2002 as a solution to the inability to capture quality action photos and videos at a reasonable price. The name itself was inspired by Woodsman and his friends wanting to become professional surfers because at the time, “going pro” was the only you could end up getting footage of you on the water.
Extreme sports enthusiasts took to the tiny, but tough cameras, very early on. Never before had they had the opportunity to film or take pictures while base jumping or biking down a mountain, and now they were able to not only capture it, but to share it. In fact, many of these daredevils credit GoPro as a significant driving force in the multi-billion dollar action sports industry. Now that people can see first hand what these extreme experiences are like, more people are getting interested in trying them out for themselves. Suddenly, GoPros weren’t just a way to take videos; they were a way to have an experience. And in a world where people live to show off their best and most interesting versions of themselves online, everyone began clamoring for the newest way to show off their activities.
As smartphones (and their cameras) get more advanced with every new model, the need for a standard point-and-shoot digital camera has dwindled. Most everyone has a decently quality lens in their pocket now, so why would they carry another device? But GoPros aren’t just another camera; they’re an accessory to whatever extreme activity you’re about to do. Having to look through a lens to capture something takes away from whatever you’re doing because you’re no longer living in the moment. With a GoPro, you don’t have to limit your experience at all. And that is something no other camera has ever been able to offer. It’s not exciting when you see someone pull out their phone to snap a pic from the top of a mountain, but when you spy someone strap on their GoPro from the top of a mountain, it probably means that they’re about to do something awesome. Having a GoPro became a symbol that you’re an adventurer. They give you status.
Having user-generated content as your primary driver in the marketing strategy is undoubtedly an advantage not all brands can capitalize on. However, GoPro also knew what to do with the content once it was out there. Engaging with your audience is a surefire way to create a community among consumers. By sharing user-generated content on the website, social media platforms and in email marketing campaigns, they feature customers. Thus, they can monetize content their customers created for them--at no cost.
Like most companies though, everything has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The brand has seen a tumultuous few years as they’ve struggled to understand their next move. The stock has dropped, they’ve both entered and exited the drone manufacturing business, and had waves of layoffs. But after taking some time to trim their product line and bring the focus back to customer research, they released the Hero 7, which quickly became their fastest-selling product ever. When their line of drones failed to be profitable, they realized they needed to realign their aims with what their customers want. GoPros are a niche product, which means they have a niche audience. Not to mention, they really have no direct competitors. Instead of trying to put out products that might attract a broader range of consumers, they got back to basics and developed the best GoPro yet. The world loves a comeback story, and at the end of the day, no one is skydiving with their iPhone duct-taped to their helmet.