The Cubii Story: Creating a Category for a New Product

By Shivani Jain

When my co-founders and I had the idea for the compact seated elliptical that’s now the Cubii, the customer we had in mind was someone like ourselves: an office-bound professional who wanted to incorporate more activity into their life but didn’t have the time or motivation.

Since then, we’ve discovered that the Cubii fits into many more lifestyles, including people intimidated to approach traditional “hard-body” fitness products, people seeking a first step in their journey toward better health, and people recovering from an injury or surgery who need a low-impact way to resume activity.

Here’s how we discovered these unmet needs and how you can do the same to grow awareness about and adoption of your products.

1. Define Your Unique Value

We call ourselves a “non-fitness fitness company.”

That’s not where we started. While we designed the Cubii to fit seamlessly into customers’ lives, we never imagined that accessibility would become its most powerful feature.

But in the fitness space, most marketing relies on high-intensity, aggressively aspirational messaging. There was an unmet need for solutions that made it possible for people to get fit in their own space, at their own pace.

That’s exactly what the Cubii offers – and that’s what resonated most with our customers.

The traditional market did not have a category for this kind of fitness, which meant that our potential customers even know how to talk about those needs. By defining our product’s value, we were able to find a starting place for building our brand and its category.

2. Listen to What People Are Saying

As we started getting more Cubiis in the hands of users, reviews poured in.

We were surprised to find that about half of our customers weren’t using our products at a desk: they were at home, watching TV, reading, knitting, playing video games – pretty much any activity you can do while sitting!

And we thought, “This is interesting.”

Then things got even more interesting: we started to see reviews explaining how a customer had had a stroke and couldn’t move, and how using a mini elliptical helped them return to health.

We read about how customers with circulation problems in their legs used Cubii to help keep the swelling down and feel better.

We saw reviews from people with knee and hip replacements who shared how Cubii had helped them return to mobility.

We saw comments from doctors and physical therapists who were surprised by how much our device had helped.

And all this was happening thanks to word of mouth – we weren’t marketing to these groups at all. This was a real light bulb moment. We realized that our products could have a much bigger impact and reach an audience with an unmet need.

3. Solicit More Feedback

Given what we knew about the population using Cubii to improve mobility, we guessed that many of them were not as active online as the younger office user we’d initially envisioned.

So we started soliciting user feedback from offline sources: we now include a stamped postcard in every box we ship, asking people what they think.

We also print our CEO’s direct phone number on a pamphlet in the box. We want people to be able to connect with us if they have problems or concerns, but mostly what we hear when people call is, “Thank you for inventing this. It changed my life.”

4. Ditch the Conventional Marketing Wisdom

Despite the positive feedback we were receiving, we knew we needed to go beyond digital advertising to reach our newfound audiences.

So we went back to the drawing board. We put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and thought about where they’d be getting their information. We’re committed to growing sustainably, which guided our conversation.

We ended up embracing offline channels, including print magazines and TV. The more we expanded, the more success we saw.

5. Tell Customers’ Stories

The more we’ve gotten to know our customers, the better our marketing and advertising efforts have performed. Today, we’re working on an effort to capture videos of our customers explaining how the Cubii changed their lives.

Our mantra has become “real people, real struggles, and real stories.” We’ve discovered that our core customer is someone who doesn’t connect with the traditional health and fitness advertising and marketing, which relies on images of superfit people living glossy lifestyles.

We wanted to share stories that anyone can relate to: not about running ultramarathons but about walking to the front door without pain.

By channeling real customers who have used Cubii to improve their quality of life, we’re hoping to connect with more people in the same situation. They’ll see themselves in our existing customers, which is one of the most powerful ways to communicate what our products can do.

Let Your Customers Lead

Reaching the right people with Cubii’s products started with listening to our customers. Listening is still the most important thing we do. It’s the most important thing any brand can do. If you’ve created something that can make your life better, chances are it can make other people’s lives better in ways you never imagined. All you have to do is let them tell you about it, and you have the potential to change lives.

Shivani Jain is the cofounder and chief marketing officer of Cubii, which makes seated compact ellipticals to help integrate movement into everyday life. The Cubii Pro is the first Bluetooth-connected compact seated elliptical that fits easily in front of a sofa or under a desk, without requiring users to rearrange their space. Follow Cubii on Twitter @cubii.