Oura Hires Top Peloton Marketer As Its First Chief Marketing Officer To Bring ‘Smart Rings’ Mainstream

The maker of a smart ring popular with celebrities, athletes and wellness advocates has hired one of Peloton’s top marketers to become its first chief marketing officer.

Oura—which helps people track sleep and other biometric data—has hired Karina Kogan to build out the company’s marketing strategy. Kogan joined Peloton before its IPO and in 2019 was promoted as the company’s global head of product marketing, where she oversaw bikes, treadmills and digital products.

While Oura’s marketing team has expanded from 5 to 25 people in the past few years, Kogan is joining during a year of massive growth. Earlier this year, the company raised $100 million in a Series C round with plans to expand beyond tracking sleep to tracking other types of wellness indicators. So far, Oura has raised $148.3 million in funding and has sold 500,000 rings which each sell for between $300 and $400.

“You might ask yourself what kind of a person jumps out of a rocket ship mid-flight,” Kogan says. “And I guess the answer to that is the kind of person who actually enjoys building a rocket ship as much as they enjoy flying it.”

Over the past few years, Oura has gained quite a following in the worlds of entertainment, business and sports. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, media mogul Arianna Huffington, and The Honest Company Founder Jessica Alba are among the powerful people with Oura rings. Other famous users include actress Jennifer Anniston, Jimmy Kimmel, Kim Kardashian, Prince Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow. Oura also has a number of partnerships in the sports world including the NBA, WNBA and UFC.

So what exactly does Oura’s ring do in the first place? Along with automatically tracking sleep and logging more than 30 different activities, the company claims it can track heart rate and body temperature with a high degree of accuracy to even predict when someone is getting sick or maybe even when they’re pregnant. For example, a peer-reviewed study by the University of California San Francisco released in December 2020 found that that Oura rings identified fevers in 38 of the 50 participants even before symptoms.

According to Oura CEO Harpreet Singh Rai, Kogan’s experience bridging hardware and content will help the company “double down” on both. While at Peloton fitness tech startup, Kogan says she grew digital membership more than 500% and also launched both the Bike+ and Tread products including campaigns that grew connected fitnesss memberships by 113%.

“The future of health isn’t all this technology,” Singh Rai says. “The future of health is you. I don’t know if that’s personalization or education. It’s really consumers waking up to the fact that they have the power to change themselves.”

The biggest challenge for marketing something like Oura is to communicate the benefits of the ring and to “unpack the science” in a way that’s relatable for everyday people, according to Kogan. However, Oura doesn’t want to be just about tracking: It’s also building out a content strategy to help people change their habits and realize what works best for them based on their own body.

“A big part of what we have to do, back to target audience, is find consumers who want to have better health, who have had that awakening,” Kogan says. “That’s a psychographic overlay, that’s not demographic. The bottom line is right now that’s a very large audience.”

When Oura was founded in Finland in 2013, the wearable tech phase was largely dominated by basic Fitbit—an entire two years before Apple debuted its first Apple Watch. And just like Peloton and its competitors in fitness tech, the health tech category is rapidly growing. While Apple is on now on its seventh watch, there are other wearables like Whoop—which like Oura monitors skin temperature, heart rate variability and others but in a wrist-wearable format. Different devices, such as Apollo Neuro, aim to help people relieve stress or focus with haptic feedback. Yet another, Muse, focuses on the brain with a tech-enabled way to help people meditate.

According to the research firm IDC, global wearable shipments grew 32.3% year-over-year during the second quarter of 2021 with total volume of 114.2 million. While Apple controlled 28% of marketshare, IDC estimated that “others” controlled another 37% while Chinese companies like Xiaomi and Huawei head 12% and 10% respectively. (Samsung had just 9% of the market last quarter.)

While Oura has massive amount of personal health data from its users, Singh Rai says the company doesn’t share or sell it to other companies. He says the company is looking into ways to become a “recommendation engine for your health,” adding that everything is compliant with European data privacy regulations. (Oura has already hired the former head of data science for another health company who before that was on the data science at Netflix.)

Oura is also leaning heavily into the research side with studies in partnership with UCSF, West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and others. The U.S. military also has some troops wearing them to track when a soldier might be getting sick.

“A lot of us have been sort of sold a version of health that means you’ve got to do this, buy this supplement, try this diet, do this type of exercise,” Singh Rai says. “And answer is try those things, but look within and see what’s working for you and understanding what’s below and in your body allows you to understand what’s most impactful.”


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