After surviving a severe motorcycle accident in 2008, Dr. Jason Wersland, founder and head of performance development at Theragun, found himself wracked with debilitating pain. Searching for a non-pharmaceutical option to relieve his discomfort in the form of a handheld device, Wersland—a chiropractor who grew up in Norway building things with his hands—found none. So he filled that white space in the healthcare market with his Theragun prototypes machines that delivered percussive motion to relieve chronic muscle pain.
Over the last decade, Wersland has spearheaded new research protocols in muscle activation, recovery and pain relief through high-frequency, high-amplitude neuromuscular percussive therapy. And last year, Theragun released the award-winning G3PRO, the company’s flagship professional-grade, handheld, wireless percussive therapy device. Adweek caught up with Wersland to discuss his challenger brand, and how he is marketing it to individuals seeking help without the use of drugs.
Adweek: What spurred you to launch Theragun?
Wersland: I founded Theragun in 2008 after a severe motorcycle accident. I was left in constant pain. In order to treat my injuries, I searched for a handheld device to provide deep muscle relief, but I wasn’t able to find any on the market. As a result, I made something myself—and it worked. I then spent eight years developing and refining five different versions, which led to our first consumer launch of the G1 in 2016.
Would you consider Theragun a challenger brand?
Everything about this brand and its inception is a challenger brand. [W]e are up against the belief that we need to take drugs to relieve body aches and pains. To me, the ultimate competition [is] over-prescribed pharmaceuticals. Our mission at Theragun is to give people an alternative and empower them to take ownership and help heal themselves in a holistic way.
What category is Theragun disrupting? What is the white space the product is filling?
Theragun is disrupting the approach to pain, movement, recovery and performance. The product is a science—amplitude, frequency and torque are disruptive in nature. It’s also fun to watch how the product is disruptive in a good way and has become a staple in so many different environments from locker rooms to the side of a swimming pool, yoga mat, court and many more.
The largest white space this fills is the area of managing pain. Theragun … products offer a holistic solution to tension, aches and pain for everybody. We are shifting peoples’ paradigms, and, in a way, our mission is reconnecting us with our bodies.
What kind of brand storytelling are you doing? Why should consumers feel passionate about Theragun?
Its origin was as a solution, not to make money. Theragun technology worked for me and subsequently worked on several of my patients after that. I realized this was a solution to a problem all of us have, and our company has been passionately on a quest to provide this technology and education around its use to everybody. We want to be a positive source for wellness and sincerely want to empower people to move more and do more of what they love.
How are you marketing the product?
I believe the very best way to market our product is for the end-user to feel it. It’s a very rewarding experience every time we go to events in person and treat people because of how this technology makes them feel. Because of this, most of our marketing uses different methods on social media to convey the “Theragun experience.”
How are you using data to market the product and its features?
We have a person in our company whose only job is to manage our marketing data. Algorithms that are endless: age, gender, activity, time, this list goes on.
How will you continue to evolve Theragun to keep pace with changing consumer needs?
We are a constantly evolving company. We’ve released three products in three years, and each one of them [was] exponentially better because we listen to the input of our professional and daily regular users.
A perfect illustration is our G3PRO. We worked with mechanical and sound engineers from MIT to design the functional elements, which makes the G3PRO 50 percent quieter. [It also has] multiple speeds for unique targeted treatments, 75 mins of battery life, redesigned attachments that are antimicrobial made from new materials that easily glide on skin or clothing [and] a standalone charging stand that will keep it continuously charged. Lastly, we’ve created the Theragun App with detailed education on how to use the G3PRO for different ailments. We will continue to listen to our consumers, listen to professionals, progress and evolve.
Beyond direct to consumer, what is your retail strategy?
We have several avenues of interest and are currently building out our retail strategy. For now, we are working with specialty retailers like running stores to specialty boutiques.
Are you planning to launch new products in support of Theragun?
Yes. As I said earlier, we are a constantly evolving company and will be consistent in our efforts to innovate and stay on the front lines of tech and science. This is how we’ll continue to be a thought leader in providing radically new solutions for pain, recovery, performance and overall health and well-being.