FitTech Insider

Don´t you cannibalize your own business with your new brand, Christian Øvregaard?

“You must dare to go within something that might cannibalize your existing business. If you don´t do it, someone else will do it,” says the head of Mentra and head of SATS Home training in our interview. Does he describe the classical innovator's dilemma?

In November 2020 SATS, the leading provider of fitness and training services in the Nordics, started Mentra – a new concept for interactive home training. Mentra by SATS wants to provide a new workout experience to its customers focusing on Norway and Sweden.
Mentra´s mission is to support and guide their customers to improve their health and well-being, straight from home. Mentra´s first product is the Rflex, a human size fitness screen in Nordic design. Customers can choose from hundreds of on-demand workouts, join live classes, or work out with personal trainers. Classes include cardio, strength, yoga, dance, and range from 10 minutes up to full weekly programs. After a testing period the Rflex was launched in September.
At the FitTechSummit Christian Øvregaard, Head of Mentra / Head of SATS Home training, will discuss the global home training trend – and the benefits of a regional approach.
Prior to the FitTechSummit Christian shared some insights and explained why no competitor has managed to enter the Nordic market so far.

Happy first birthday! Are we right on track assuming that Mentra by SATS is a Covid-baby?
If not as a result of the pandemic, at least Mentra was kick started by the notion that there will be more home training.

What have you learned within your first year of the brand?
 What's most interesting is to see that we're able to expand with the concept of the fitness screen, our Rflex. We are able to capture more of the family! There was a hunch that the female will do the yoga and the male will do the strength, but we were wrong. We get a lot more crossovers, there are a lot more males that do yoga. Maybe they're not comfortable doing it at the club, but they're definitely doing it at home. We also see that kids want to take part in the workout.

Christian Øvregaard at FitTech Summit V: Tech or Die!

On November 8 and 9, 2021, FitTech Summit V: Tech or Die! will take place digitally. At Europe's most relevant conference on the future of fitness and health technology, Christian Øvregaard will discuss the future of smart mirrors. Get your free ticket now!

So, your fitness screen gets more people involved in home training. How do you explain that effect?
A treadmill and or a bike will probably be somewhere – if not in the basement, in the workout room. The screen can be put prominently in the living room or somewhere inside. That gives it a whole different way of having availability and brings the family closer into that experience.

When you were thinking about bringing your own fitness screen to the market, why did you decide to go for your own product instead of cooperating with someone else or acquiring someone else, like Lululemon did with Mirror, for example?
 We wanted to have more control over the actual experience that our customers would get. Also, we wanted to make sure that we have a Nordic design that would fit into the homes of our users. Building the whole package and making sure that we can deliver a good customer experience from A to Z is the key to our brand.

The market for fitness mirrors started a couple years ago. Who would you describe as your biggest competitor?
Fitness screens are a global thing now. There are a lot of people within that space. All these players are competitors in some sense. Many of these screens have great content and great functionality. But in the Nordics I don't see a lot of competitors. Our competitive edge is our Nordic approach.

What's so specific about the Nordic market that you don't have any competitors there?
The Nordic market is a lot smaller than markets such as Germany or the UK. But it has a big affluent community. Besides the language and the way our coaches communicate is different. Also, the seasons are a bit harder here. Home training is very relevant for a long time throughout the year.

So home training might become more popular in the Nordics because the weather is so bad in the winter?
Many have a sense that all Norwegians and Swedes are out skiing all winter. But they are not! There's a huge potential to have people active at home. We do see that seasonal varieties are quite big. From August until March we probably will see the biggest uptake in the market for home training.

Who is your target group for the Rflex?
We are trying to address three groups of people: Those who don´t find the time to work out, those who are not comfortable with going to the gym, and those who do not have a sports club nearby.

Do you already have plans for the future?
We have thoughts on how we can use the screen in the future as a platform for different services. People want to do more physiotherapy, they want to do rehab training and we did get questions about kicking it. Having the production facilities to create all content in house we will play with more content verticals to see where we get traction. Our flexibility lies in the content that we can produce.

What kind of content vertical would you personally find interesting for the screen?
I do running and cycling outside. For me it would be strength training to improve my abilities as a runner or a cyclist. I think it's interesting to create programs to supplement the outside training. Especially in the Nordics people love the outside. Building on that is very important.

Mentra offers different types of memberships. On the one hand you are trying to address users who are not SATS users yet. On the other hand, you're offering your existing users retention mechanisms with the extra subscription. What is your thinking behind this pricing concept?
 Post pandemic SATS had 700,000 members in the Nordics. From a business perspective it is important to see how we can utilize the members we already have. In doing so we want to provide our new service without doubling up their fitness budget.

We also think that the fitness mirror could be a great platform to expand the PT business. Right now we have about 1,300 personal trainers within SATS. These PTs can then perform their classes or sessions in the clubs but also expand it. The Rflex lowers the barrier to book the service.

We look at the whole ecosystem and try to maximize the benefit for all participants.

About Christian
Christian Øvregaard is the Head of Mentra / Head of SATS Home training. The Oslo based brand Mentra by SATS started in November 2020 and offers a new concept for interactive home training on the Nordic market.

Prior to his recent position Christian was the Chief Digital Officer of SATS and responsible for IT, digital innovation and development. The SATS group is the leading provider of fitness and training services in the Nordics.

After graduating from BI Norwegian Business School Christian worked for various companies as Marketing Controller, IT Consultant, Online Sales & Traffic Manager, and Global eCommerce Director.

He is a passionate runner and cyclist.

What is one thing that most fitness operators get wrong in terms of technology and future?
 A lot of operators are focused on the existing cash flow in business and not willing to invest in and take the leap to see what else is coming.

At SATS and Mentra we are actually daring to go within something that might cannibalize existing business. Other people say we shouldn't do this because we're going to lose customers. But if we don't do it, someone else will do it. That's the biggest leap to take for any business to actually go into somewhere where you're potentially drawing out your customers.

You describe the classical innovator's dilemma…
People know about it, think about it, and talk about it – but it's very rare that people are taking action. Hopefully we'll be able to win on both markets. The digital space will be there in the future so it's just about addressing it early enough and being bullish to take that investment and actually do this now. If SATS was to go internationally, this might be the concept that we would do.

Is this something that you're planning to do – going international?
I am surprised how many inquiries we've gotten from other countries: UK, Germany, US, Belgium, France, and also Saudi Arabia. Certainly it looks like there's a market out there that we should look into.