It was late October 2021 when Oura announced the release of their new Generation 3 ring.
No question, I was excited about it. There were already rumors about a new ring when I initially planned to order my Oura ring back in the summer of this year. For me, it was kind of clear that it was just a question of time when the new ring would be available.
It wasn’t just me but certainly a lot more people excited about this release. However, Oura left some of us with a range of open questions in the dark. Solely because of what I deem to be bad communication management on their side because the new ring is pretty neat.
Today, I’d like to tell you about how I experienced their release and how I felt left behind as an existing customer.
As far as I can tell, the Generation 2 ring was released back in 2018. This gives a generation of an Oura ring now a lifespan of approx. 3 years keeping the company history in mind. So, it was fair to assume that the new Generation 3 ring would be released sometime in 2021.
Like any other brand, Oura seemed to be pretty convinced that literally, everyone waited for their new release. And that all of those waiting people are 100% ready and happy to pay Oura for the new ring - with no question asked and no alternative in mind.
For me, as a member of the existing customer base, it looks like they were convinced on a level that they kind of forgot about the questions that their existing customers might come up with.
And maybe especially those who ordered the Generation 2 ring just a couple of months or weeks ago; those who do not necessarily want to update right away.
But first things first:
Two days prior to their release day, Oura started to spoiler “the Next Evolution of Oura is Here” via Email and Social Media, with a timer set to end two days later on October 26, 2021.
The drum-rolls started, and Oura made sure to get their fans´ and customers’ attention. Fair enough.
When the timer finally ended, Oura revealed their new ring and membership program (a fancy name for a subscription model).
Great. But wait - what does that mean?
And here begins what I think was a mistake on Oura’s side. While Oura made sure to communicate that something big is coming on October 26 to everyone, they completely missed communicating in parallel with their existing customer base what the change of the fee-based membership means for them.
The lack of real-time communication caused questions to be thrown at them immediately and across their Social Media channels. I don’t know what happened in their email inbox, but for the open channels, everyone could see those questions popping up: What happens to existing customers? Can I still use my Generation 2 ring? Do I need to pay now for using my Generation 2 ring? And similar ones...
I can only assume that their Social Media and Communication team was not actually prepared or equipped for the appearing storm on the horizon. I tend to believe this as they gave the same vague reply to everyone: Please hold on and wait for the email you will receive soon.
They prepared an email comms for their existing customers but failed to send it together with the release of the ring. They were holding it back to - I don’t know - put a spotlight on the release? Create an ever-growing excitement? Whatever it was, the effect on me was rather negative. I wondered about questions like
Will I be forced to pay a subscription fee for continuing using my ring or
Will I be forced to buy a new ring as the old one is no longer supported (after less than 6 months of owning it).
Those thoughts were the reason I decided to reach out to them directly to get replies to my questions, as they were not communicating that information pro-actively.
Luckily - maybe out of desperation or following a plan- Oura’s Social Media team revealed some information via DM (=direct message) when I asked them in a DM on Instagram. They let me know that I can continue to use my Generation 2 ring for up to 2 years and that I will receive routine software and firmware updates during that time without the need to pay for a membership.
2 years max. Wow. Not impressed. And most likely, no new features during that time.
The Comms Plan
Well, I am kind of convinced that Ouras public communication was planned as something to create excitement. Unfortunately, for some existing customers like me, it was instead an incomplete and split-into-pieces disaster.
From what I experienced, their communication plan was:
The pre-announcement of the release 2 days before the official release
The official release announcement of the new ring together with the mentioning of their subscription model.
(Crickets and some half-baked Social Media replies)
Sending out individual offers to their existing customers in batches to get them to order the new Generation 3 ring with a discount and the promise of a lifetime membership for free.
I got my email at 8:20 pm on Tuesday night with a 75$ discount on the new ring and a FREE lifetime membership worth 150$.
One sec, please.
What the hell does that mean?
The membership will cost 5,99$/month.
OK - does that mean that the lifetime membership is free for 2 years, and I need to pay after that? What kind of lifetime are we talking about? The lifetime of a hamster? Or do they plan to get rid of the membership after two years when launching the Generation 4 ring? Or is there some kind of awkward law that forces them to give a certain value to the lifetime promise? It’s an unanswered question to me... still!
Besides the email, I got a popup in their app offering me to upgrade. Leading me to their buy-now page incl. the promised discount. Fine.
However, what I basically still do not know as an existing customer is: What about my Generation 2 ring? Can I still use it? What does the membership program means to me if I do not update?
Those questions have not been answered in the email I received, nor did they point me to an FAQ to look them up.
Well, to be fair, I personally have the info from a DM in Instagram, but does that count for the other existing customers?
No, it does not, and I tell you why: What about those who do not follow them on Social Media? Those who did not reach out to Oura in a DM? Those people do not know and still have no clue what happens to their Generation 2 ring.
Room for Improvement
Yes, I think that their comms strategy has a lot of room for improvement. And if ever someone from Oura reads this: Take it as friendly feedback from a customer that loves your ring and the work you are doing. I only would like you to think about what existing customers might want to know and when they want to know it. (The answer is always: As fast as somehow possible with no delays.)
However, the new ring looks promising and has some nice little extras that I find interesting. So I opted in and accepted their offer. Currently, there is a new sizing kit on its way to me, and I can’t wait to get the new Generation 3 ring and test it out. Although the communication for existing customers was a fail, I still admire Oura and the work they’re doing with their rings.
Most likely, a new post about the new ring will follow on this blog soon 😇
In case you have not read about the Generation 2 ring, and why I think you should buy one, you can start here: https://www.themultiblog.com/post/this-is-why-you-should-buy-an-oura-ring
And let’s see, maybe I recommend buying the Generation 3 too. Who knows.
What happens to my Gen 2 ring?
I found someone who has the same finger size and who will adopt my ring and use it for a maximum of 2 years 😉
I hope they like it as much as I do.