How the Pro Sports Analytics Movement Affects Consumers

Overview Trends that started with professional sports players are now scaling to the consumer market, giving consumers the ability to improve their performance with data and analytics, just like professional athletes.

Data and analytics have transformed how professional athletes train and perform, allowing elite sports players to dissect and improve their performance in ways not available before. The trend has extended to consumers, who are now looking for more ways to track their sports activities. 

In partnership with the Consumer Technology Association®, SportTechie invited industry leaders in sports tech to speak in a recent webinar about the trends and products that started with professional athletes and are now scaling for consumers like youth sports and collegiate athletes. 

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Scaling for Consumers 

With elite athletes embracing the opportunities to improve their performance through sports tech products and new data analytics capabilities, it was inevitable that consumers would aim for the same. 

"Influencer strategy is as old as sports itself,” said Meridith Unger, founder and CEO of Nix Biosensors. 

Though tracking has become an everyday occurrence at the professional sports level — from hydration and heart rate to stress level — it’s relatively new for amateur athletes in the consumer market.  

The expectations from consumers as data and analytics becomes more accessible has challenged sports tech companies to understand how to scale their products accordingly. Companies must think about scaling to amateur-level play and education, as well as to consumers’ financial standards. 

“It's really about scalability: how do we impact the greatest number of lives sooner with an accessible, affordable product?” Unger said.  

Marilou McFarlane, president of SportsTechWorks, emphasized that at the youth level, it is important to have fun, but there is also a need for measurable and actionable data that allows young athletes to do a multitude of things: 

  • Collaborate with coaches. 
  • Record pain and injuries in an app. 
  • Inform adults responsible for them of any health issues. 
  • Track hydration and other performance needs. 
  • Understand how they are improving. 


Further, marketing toward consumers must change. Beyond pricing, sports tech companies must recognize how to make their message resonate with consumers and help them understand how these pro-level products can help them achieve their recreational performance goals. 

It's really about scalability: how do we impact the greatest number of lives sooner with an accessible, affordable product?

Meridith Unger, Founder and CEO
Nix Biosensors


The Challenges Sports Tech Is Working On 

McFarlane, Unger and Benoît Simeray, CEO of PLAYR, Catapult Sports, highlighted that a major challenge in scaling for consumers is being able to put the tracking information into context.  

For example, it’s easy to tell a consumer that they’re losing a distinct amount of fluid and have them understand the action, but having more metrics creates a space where consumers need more interpretation; they cannot intuitively analyze those metrics. 

“Consumers want to know why the product works to improve their lives, but not necessarily the technical detail. Building a compelling narrative and telling a story is critical for this prosumer market to get [the products]. It’s not what you do, but why you do it,” McFarlane said.  

Sports products companies are now focused on making metrics and analytics simple and actionable for the everyday amateur athlete, and understanding what data is helpful for these weekend warriors. 

But beyond the signals that are not yet being tracked, such as the impact on a soccer ball or the speed of ball passes on a field, there is another level for wearables and trackers to achieve. 

“What is missing is for all those different platforms and wearables to talk to one another. I’d love for my product to talk to Meridith’s product,” Simeray said. “I think this is what it’s going to take to really have an impact, for youth and consumers to be able to sync all those data points and make sense.” 

Unger added that another gap is bringing technology into sports segments where there may not be a lot of capital to adopt them, highlighting the financial challenges of scaling for consumers.

McFarlane emphasized the opportunity in personalizing sports tech and data analytics for female athletes, such as training platforms that recognize the differences between male and female athletes and can offer customized recommendations. 

Step one, however, is helping consumers be data-literate as companies work on refocusing elite-level products for the everyday user. 

“Whether we’re presenting data to the athlete themselves or someone who is responsible for them, the intent is simplicity, intuitiveness … trying to present the data in a way that requires the least amount of education,” Unger said. 


What’s the Vision? 

The technology that is allowing these sports tech companies to scale the products and analytics to a consumer level extends beyond the sports world. 

“It’s making people more aware that to be healthy, to be less stressed, it takes initiative across a multiple set of different components which form parts of your life,” Simeray said in response to how the consumer focus on the data and analytics trend is becoming a far more holistic view. 

The tracking and analytics that are currently being used on distinct segments, like athletes, are applicable to soldiers, laborers, the elderly and others, and they can lead to better awareness of personal health. 

“We absolutely have the opportunity to make that leap from the athlete to general health care,” Unger said. 


Learn more about how sports tech is being scaled for consumers on the SportsTechie webinar.

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