Addaday is on a roll. The maker of massage and other recovery tools recently announced several significant hires to capitalize on emerging growth opportunities as it continues to tap accelerated demand for its percussion tools, including its BioZoom Edge cordless massager.
The hires, earlier this year, include Luke Rowe, COO; Jeff Irvin, head of sales; Jessica Boyle, chief communications officer; and Chris Lieto, head of partnerships.
Last year, Hugh Williams joined Addaday as president after more than 20 years at the global marketing agency Weber Shandwick. Founded by former tech-entrepreneur Vic Yang in 2011, Addaday found success with its range of massage sticks, rollers and bodywork balls that gained a foothold in the run specialty channel.
Securing placement inside REI helped Addaday increase its exposure, and last year Addaday started selling on Target.com and in all 1,800 Target stores nationwide.
Here, Williams discusses the Addaday story, new hires, recent successes, and growth opportunities ahead.
How did Addaday get its start? Addaday began as a blog. After his grandfather had major heart surgery 12 years ago, Victor Yang, CEO and founder, decided he didn’t want his life to go down the same path, so he started running and taking better care of his health. He wanted to inspire others to do the same—to “add a day” to their lives—and chronicled his journey in a blog called Addaday. Victor went from running 5Ks to various marathons and ultramarathons and relied on recovery devices to help him bounce back after his runs. It dawned on him that he could create better recovery tools at a fraction of the cost, and the entrepreneur in him took over. Fast forward ten years, Addaday is now one of the leading massage technology brands.
How did you find your way to Addaday? I joined Addaday in early 2020 after spending 25 years in PR and marketing at global communications agency Weber Shandwick, where I helped establish and lead the multi-million dollar Built With Chocolate Milk marketing campaign. Over several years, we repositioned what was ostensibly a chocolatey treat for kids into a credible sports recovery beverage for serious athletes and turned around a lagging category. So the transition from sports recovery nutrition to sports recovery tools was a natural progression.
I was initially brought on board as a consultant to help lead Addaday’s activation at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, where I was fortunate to spend quality time with Victor sharing ideas on how to channel his contagious ambition to take Addaday from a specialty recovery tool company to a leader and innovator.
I saw an opportunity to apply my relevant integrated marketing background, especially in the active lifestyle space, to help take Addaday from relative obscurity to the world stage. I also saw a category with very little innovation, filled with overpriced brands that seemed very cold and ‘transactional.’ Effective recovery should be within reach of everyone, so to tell Addaday’s value story—great quality at an affordable price—its foundation as a brand that genuinely wants to help people ‘add a day’ to their lives and its new innovation was exciting to me.
It was a tough move to walk away from a 25-year career at the agency, but, so far, it’s been an exciting ride, and the future looks very bright.
Why has Addaday been successful? Addaday’s early success was built on value, craftsmanship, persistence, and word of mouth, and our brand’s staying power is fueled by our ability to innovate quickly and stay true to our DNA of helping people find their better.
In the early days, Victor and his wife Lyndsey pounded the pavement with specialty retailers and at running events where they established a successful business and loyal following in North America and the UK. The brand’s positive reputation and value proposition captured the attention of REI, where the brand has thrived for the past five years. Its success was fueled by innovating to address shoppers’ needs. We created a back crane exclusively for REI. The long-standing REI business put Addaday on Target’s radar, which saw our value and innovation as a winning proposition for its fitness aisle. Learning from the success of REI, we offered an exclusive SKU to Target, leading to Addaday being chosen over other brands as the only electronic massager brand in all 1,800 Target stores nationwide.
A key to our continued success lies in bringing affordable innovation to the market. We were one of the first brands to introduce intelligent massage technology—Bluetooth-connected devices and a companion app to help guide users on using devices—at under $150. The technology, and the price point, proved popular with consumers, and our retail partners, who have started to see a leveling in the trajectory of percussion device sales at price points north of $200. Our upward momentum has now seen us competing with some of the bigger brands in the category to the extent that we’re winning shelf space and key supplier partnerships, including US Ski & Snowboard and USA Triathlon.
How did the pandemic impact Addaday? We experienced tremendous growth during the pandemic, but we also faced some supply chain challenges like many brands. Our specialty retail partners were hit hard, but we were fortunate to launch in all Target stores nationwide at a time when fitness equipment was flying off its shelves. So, our percussion device business was strong, especially given its competitive sub-$150 price point in a category where devices north of $299 is common. We also focused heavily on growing our direct-to-consumer business, which took off by several hundred percent.
While demand was up, we couldn’t replenish our warehouse inventory fast enough, given the competition for ocean container space and backed-up ports. We needed to be creative to work around these challenges, such as using air freight when we had to, and have since made some significant logistical changes and strategic hires to the extent that we’ll come out of the pandemic in a much stronger place with manufacturing and supply chain than when we went into it.
Where do you see Addaday’s biggest growth opportunities going forward? Our connected platform has helped us form a blueprint for future innovation that will respond to many consumer needs that are not currently addressed in the category. While percussion technology is unlikely to go anywhere for a while, we see great potential in personalizing the experience for everyone, not just athletes and exercisers. For example, we will continue to build predictive intelligence into the Addaday experience. In other words, the technology will learn about you and think for you to tailor your experience based on your unique needs. We will also offer more ways to tailor the hardware to include expanding the massage head and accessories offering and wearable options.
But this is just the beginning. Our innovation pipeline includes exciting new technology that we were told will be the hot item of 2022. I can’t reveal too much, but already we have purchase orders from some of the major national retailers here in the U.S. and globally.
With our innovation, commitment to our value proposition, strategic hires and investment in supply chain and distribution, Addaday is well poised to stand out in a cluttered category dominated by overpriced products and knockoffs.
Addaday now sells across Target’s stores and has increased its big-box retailer presence. Has Addaday’s distribution strategy changed? While Target and other big-box retailers have been a catalyst for growth and innovation and have forced us to optimize our supply chain, we are committed to the specialty retail channel. We have never lost sight of the fact that this is where Addaday “grew up,” and we still have a loyal following among customers. Now that specialty retailers can look ahead to bouncing back, we are investing in supporting regrowth, including hiring our new head of sales, Jeff Irvin, and providing POS, content and other resources to set our specialty retail partners up to tap into our trajectory as a brand and the broader economic recovery.
What’s behind the big hires? Addaday is investing in the future. With major innovation in the pipeline and an expanded distribution that includes new big-box retailers and global markets, we need the right infrastructure and team to support our business. We have our sights set on becoming the leader in the category, and we’ve attracted best-in-class talent with the skills and experience to take us there. Addaday has also engaged the services of a roster of global marketing and communications agencies supporting our growth.
Where do you see Addaday in five years? We recognize that Addaday has been in the shadows of some of the bigger brands in the category for too long. Now we believe that we have made the right investments, have cultivated the right team, and have developed the winning innovation that will play out as a bit of a “David and Goliath story.” We see a very clear path to global category leadership within the next two years.
Photo courtesy Addaday