Spri Products has maneuvered to the front of the pack of accessory companies by going way beyond just selling products, stuffing a package with a booklet, or even adding a DVD.
Booklets, posters and DVDs are, of course, great first steps to help consumers know what to do with a tube, ball or board once they get it home. However, Spri has now fully launched a video library packed with individual exercise how-to clips that are free, fully downloadable and open to anyone.
Reported by SNEWS® 10 months ago with a scheduled launch of January 2007, the library has now been beefed out with 352 total clips using 28 products and was officially announced last month to retailers and consumers. SNEWS® in its report last summer called it the beginning of a trend that more and more companies would be jumping on since it adds convenience to workouts, a factor that may in the long run encourage more people to add exercise to their lives by cutting out one more excuse.
"Spri is a product manufacturer, but we feel there is an obligation to help people hit their goals," said Adam Zwyer, marketing director at Spri. "Sure, we provide a product, but now the question they may have is, 'What do I do with this?'"
But such a video library goes beyond being a place that consumers can go to see videos about what to do with a product once they have it at home. In fact, retailers can use it as an additional sales tool to show their customers when they are considering the purchase of an accessory product. That way, consumers won't decide not to buy something if they are unsure they'll know how to use it later. In addition, retailers can ingratiate themselves with customers by showing them the information on a computer in the store, allowing a consumer to see the store as more than a place to buy something, but also as a source of education and help.
"This opens avenues for retailers to tell the customer how to use a product," Zwyer said. "They are now not just salespeople. They're experts."
An added bonus is that every individual exercise clip is fully downloadable, to computers or any MP3 player. That means that consumers could create their own exercise playlists, as they do now with music, mixing and matching exercises for different types of routines or equipment. The workouts then become transportable on the MP3 player or computer for someone to do anywhere, including while traveling.
"This innovation is impressive," said Matthew Losciale, buyer and merchandise manager, Busy Body Home Fitness, in a statement to Spri. "Spri's downloadable education will serve as an important selling tool and as positive reinforcement to support our customers."
Spri retailers have received in-store promotional items, such as table tents and posters, to help them tell customers about the free education, Zwyer said.
Zwyer pointed out that personal trainers and clubs can also access the library, putting together workouts and reference lists for clients and members to use. This relationship with trainers and clubs is one he said the company will look to expand.
How it works
The library, powered by a company specializing in new media called Invodo (www.invodo.com), is filled with clips of exercises done by one of two trainer-models, one male and one female, both with impeccable form. Each covers one exercise and averages about 30 seconds. There is a voiceover as the model does the exercise describing how to do it and discussing proper form, alignment and other tips.
The exercises are divided in the library by accessory piece, for example, Spri ball, Ultra Toner or foam roller, and then sub-divided in additional sub-menus by body part or muscle. Some accessories have 30 or more exercises in their libraries. Eventually every single product will have its place in the library.
Zwyer said the company is working on the next step of the system, to launch in the fall, that will allow users to search by muscle or body part, as well as a video clip users can use as an introduction that will concisely describe what the library includes and how to use it.
"It's great for all sides of our business," he said, "and, honestly, it's good for our industry."
SNEWS® View: What a super tool for all consumers and for retailers, especially since -- at least for now -- it is free and open. Of course, we expect that Spri will at some point ask for registration to be able to use names and emails for marketing purposes, but the company may not want to do that at first to not scare away registration-phobic Net users. Of course, there are companies that specialize in downloadable, web-based education now requiring membership or fees, and Spri could eventually charge for the use of its library too. Although consumers could developer playlists for entire workouts, it would take a bit of work and knowledge to know what to choose and the order in which to record it, so we suspect not too many will go to that level of use. What a goldmine for trainers who can write up home workouts without having to make photocopies of book pages and drawings of exercises, or write descriptions of what to do, then worry about a client who may forget what something means. The fit models in the clips have (mostly) incredible form with the short voiceover taken from manuals already developed by Spri. The clips are very short and after a few views a listener does get weary of hearing, in conclusion to every one, "…pause and slowly return to the starting position." Anyone who develops a playlist or who uses a clip more than once will very quickly tire of hearing it. Perhaps Spri will figure out a way to let those who download the exercises to choose whether he or she wants the audio.
Of course, we suspect Spri won't be the only accessory company to do downloadable exercises. Several companies already sell equipment accompanied by a DVD, which is also a great tool, but one that could already be on its way to becoming outdated since one DVD is limited in what it can provide and is static once the consumer has it. Still, they are inexpensive enough that including one with a product to introduce a buyer to the product without forcing web access could still be a plus -- with a web-based library as an additional tool the DVD could lead them to. Nevertheless, the web can house unending videos that can be changed, added to or updated forever. We're sure consumers and retailers alike will soon learn to use the Spri library to its full potential.