Product Review: The Mirror
The Mirror was on Oprah’s Favorite Things list this past holiday season. And we heard something along the lines of a nine-figure acquisition during COVID’s lockdown. But is Mirror - the current darling of IOT fitness, simply a fad or here to stay? We looked in the press archives to find out.
In 2019, the NYT reported Exercise Mirrors were in every celebrity home from Gwyneth Paltrow to Alicia Keys; noting, this solves celebrities’ need for privacy. But the high-cost, and lofty clientele didn’t seem too appealing for the masses. It smelled like a fad to us.
Still, we decided to take a deeper look into the product itself. The device, a sleek looking mirror on the outside, connects to your phone. You can see your reflection in it per a traditional mirror. Then you turn it on. Lit up, a multitude of functions present themselves. 2D Avatars shown through the glass, lead classes ranging from yoga to strength training. The website notes there are 50+ different genres and classes ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour. It’s truly an at-home fitness class inside your mirror.
This hardtech device also “houses” expert trainers from around the country to give real-time and individual feedback. It will customize your workout for different levels, goals, and preferences. It then connects with your Bluetooth monitor, speaker, Apple Watch or similar device to measure your heart rate, and better track your results. You can choose your own music, compete with yourself by earning points and following your own algorithms. In addition to the thousands of classes to choose from (categorized into 50+ different genres), and 1-on-1 training sessions with top trainers, there are also weekly live classes. After every kind of workout, the Mirror provides a performance summary to track your progress. And it will store up to six users’ data - so you need 1 mirror for the whole family.
Ah! Now we see why Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, and Ellen are fans. It’s not just for privacy, it saves time, can be personalized for your individual needs, and frankly has a lot to offer.
But the popularity of Mirror, must have boomed during COVID isolation - gyms were closed the majority of 2020, and so more and more people were happy and willing to workout in their own homes. We decided to look into Mirror’s investment history to get another perspective on this fitness movement.
The New York based company struggled for years to gain capital. After searching for funding, working through Boost’s Accelerator, the company raised $25M in 2018, led by Spark Capital. By 2019 Mirror had raised a second round, totaling the funding to $72 million. This is serious cash. The investment follows trends of investing in IOT, the fitness space, and competition like Peloton. The fitness industry specifically has been growing up to 5 percent increase every year for over a decade. The market for healthy living and exercise has been on an upswing well before our Spring 2020 lockdown. So Mirror’s hypoactive growth wasn’t lucky, it was exemplifying the entire interest in the space. The company’s fundraising was impressive in itself, but then came Lululemon.
The athleisure Canadian retailer has grown from a single yoga space to a 460+ stores. Now a $14B company in a little over two decades of existence. And then, their first acquisition last summer, was an impressive $500M purchase. Yep, that’s right. Mirror was purchased by Lululemon for half a billion dollars. Betting high on COVID quarantine as well as personal, private fitness, Lululemon expects Mirror to become profitable by the end of 2021. What’s exciting to the retailer is the variety-add to their business. It’s a completely different business model that expands their offering in an entirely new way, while still maintaining their goal of encouraging people to sweat more.
So here’s our honest opinion. At first, we were hesitant. Agreeing with the NYT’s 2019 article, this device seemed to capitalize on the rise of narcissism as well as gimmicky household IOT solutions. But frankly, Mirror has all the aspects you would want + more. By itself, it’s a good-looking mirror. There are plenty of common (or not smart) attractive mirrors that would cost almost or the same amount, without all the built-in technology and services. It also has this wonderful ability to allow the user to control his/her workouts, while adding the expertise and direction of the trainers, classes, and structure you want. Lastly, and certainly most obviously, it’s convenient. You likely would have a mirror in your home anyways, and you don’t need a room or half the garage to be filled with equipment. It negates scrutiny over sweating in public, and cuts transportation time. Lululemon’s investment qualifies it even more. The successful mass-luxury “sweat retailer” has provided us with quality athleisure and experiences we go back to time-and-time again. Their bet to expand their offering and audience with the Mirror is on-point. We agree. All-in-all, this isn’t a fad. The Mirror is going to be in all of our homes soon. It’s here to stay.