In the world of GPS watches and heart rate monitors, you simply cannot bypass Polar. It seems to be the unique combination of expertise in sports, physiology and electronics and a deep understanding of customer needs that has made Polar a pioneer and leading supplier of heart rate monitors, fitness trackers and GPS sport watches.
Polar does not follow the rapid pace of the fitness market but sets new standards. It offers a huge product range from basic models that help motivate and inform beginners to complete training systems for world champions. The company successfully bridges the gap between fitness and smart technologies.
“Today, fitness plays an increasingly important role in our lives,” says Lucie Chemel, Marketing Manager in France. “There is a strong fitness and health boom, and smart technology is a vital topic. There are more and more sporting events. Triathlons and marathons are booming all around the world. The awareness of one’s own body has completely changed over the past years. People want to improve their personal fitness and well-being, and a modern fitness tracker comes as the perfect gadget to reach this goal. It sits quietly on your wrist, counts up your steps, tracks your sleep, monitors your heart rate and recognizes the difference between light yoga and a serious sprint.”
Polar was founded in 1977 in Finland, a country where skiing has a long tradition. It comes as no surprise, then, that the idea of a portable heart rate monitor was born on a Finnish skiing track. In 1979, Polar filed its first patent for wireless heart rate measurement; only three years later, the first wire-free wearable heart rate monitor was introduced on the market – a milestone for the company and the entire industry.
Ever since, Polar has set new benchmarks when it comes to cutting-edge sports technology. Today, the company has 1,200 employees, 26 subsidiaries all around the globe and 35,000 retail outlets in more than 80 countries. France has been in Polar’s focus for 20 years now; the first French subsidiary was established in Biarritz.
Six years ago, the Cergy subsidiary opened its doors. “The Biarritz site is widely recognized for its huge technological expertise, product know-how and outstanding customer service,” stresses Ms. Chemel. “In Paris, we focus on marketing and distribution only.”
Polar’s watches are known for durability and accuracy. They are suitable for different sports from triathlon to yoga, for different levels from beginner to professional, for gyms and sports teams, for open waters and pools. “Polar’s range caters to the specific needs of different athletes,” says Ms. Chemel. “Our target group is not defined by age but by involvement in sport.”
Highlights of the comprehensive range are models such as M 430, a GPS running watch that perfectly meets the needs of serious, goal-driven runners. V 800 comes as a multisports GPS that is greatly appreciated by triathletes while A 370 is a sporty fitness tracker that monitors the heart rate from the wrist and helps athletes to train smarter – outside or in a gym.
“It is part of Polar’s tradition to be an inventor,” states Ms. Chemel. “The company constantly develops new products to stand out in the highly competitive market. Customers are very well informed these days and often buy online. We need to consider a different consumer behaviour and adapt to new trends. Internet applications such as Strava are a huge trend for instance. It is a website and mobile app used to track athletic activity via satellite navigation and is especially used for running and cycling. Users can compete in challenges; the app shows a wealth of data about training and creates an inspiring and motivating community. Polar watches easily push data to Strava. We also cooperate with many athletes to constantly improve applications.”
For athletes Polar watches have become an indispensable tool to analyze personal performance. Specific apps and software solutions give them feedback, and upload training plans and customizable workout programs. “Customized solutions will be more and more important in the future,” points out Ms. Chemel. “Polar aims to get under the skin of an athlete. The company has been a pioneer right from day one. We are thrilled to keep up this position.”