It's time to see if kids really want to strap fitness trackers around their wrists. Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) is teaming up with Disney (NYSE:DIS) to try to give its kid-friendly vivofit jr. product line a fairy-tale ending. Garmin is hoping that the new Disney Princess-themed bands for the vivofit jr. 2 that it's introducing on Wednesday will give young girls -- and young boys that identify with or are inspired by the Disney Princess family -- a more enjoyable incentive to monitor their daily activity levels.
Fitness trackers for kids have generally been a hard sell as a product category. Niche leader Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) introduced Ace in March, its first foray into child-geared fitness trackers. Fitbit hasn't put out any initial sales metrics for the kid-friendly wristband that offers up virtual badges for achievements and an app to keep parents in the know and the kids engaged. Fitbit only mentioned that Ace is generating positive momentum and market reception in its second-quarter earnings call, but it wasn't enough to lift Fitbit sales out of what is now nearly two years of declines.
Electronic learning toy giant LeapFrog introduced LeapBand four years ago, just as Fitbit and Jawbone trackers were all the rage with adults. It failed to lift that company out of its slump. Kids don't generally seem enthused to don fitness trackers, but if anyone can change that mindset, it would have to be Disney.
When you wish upon a star
This isn't the first time that Garmin and Disney have teamed up. Garmin has already put our vivofit jr. 2 bands featuring Minnie Mouse as well as characters from Marvel and Star Wars. All of those are presently selling on Garmin's site for a $10 discount to the $79.99 suggested retail price that the Disney Princess line is commanding. The original vivofit jr. line is marked down to $59.99. Garmin still has a chance here.
A key component to the Disney-licensed vivofit jr. 2 is that it works alongside a mobile app. The new Disney Princess band includes Magical Kingdoms: A Disney Princess Adventure, an app where kids get to play alongside Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, and Rapunzel in diversions that encourage active lifestyles. We're talking about a richer and more immersive experience than what Fitbit Ace or LeapFrog's LeapBand currently offer. Even Fitbit conceded during its latest earnings call that it will have to invest in social and software features across all of its products.
It will be interesting to see if the Disney Princesses addition helps lift an already growing Garmin -- fitness products revenue climbed 24% in its latest quarter -- into the mainstream for kid wearables. A neat component of the expanding line of Disney-licensed vivofit jr. 2 devices is that folks can switch out the accessory band that attaches to the actual tracker for just $30, making it an economical update as tastes for Disney properties evolve. If Garmin and Disney don't succeed here, it's probably safe to say that kids will never take to fitness trackers.