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Marketing strategies for wearable technology

Author: Catherine Marsden
Four images of wearable technology in use

Marketing strategies for wearable technology

Tailored and targeted messaging from wearable data

Not many people could have missed the launch event for Apple’s iPhone 6, and the introduction of the new Apple Watch on September 9, 2014.

It’s led to much media speculation and a buzz in the marketplace, something which hasn’t yet been seen with other smart watches -- Samsung has had a product in the market for a while now. You could question why it’s so exciting that Apple is launching a wearable product, when others already exist and the category hasn’t (to date) been that successful. The simple answer is that Apple entering the market, with its almost iconic brand status and millions of loyal customers, might mean wearable technology starts being embraced in a way not seen previously. In fact, initial estimates from analysts suggest that Apple has the potential to sell up to 60 million watches in the first year alone.

So does this mean that there may be a new device revolution on the horizon? Just as mobile phones and tablets displaced the once-dominant PC, could wearable devices really push smartphones aside?

The next generation of wearables

This new generation of wearables certainly has the credentials to do so in the future. The first wearable technology devices like sports trackers, pedometers, and heart rate monitors have now been replaced by much more sophisticated ideas. Google Glass, and Apple Watch, for example, are at the forefront of what might be possible in wearable technology. They are not simply a product that performs one function, they are designed as a lifestyle aid, with apps for wellness, maps, local information, and much more.

With the “always on” culture, where smartphone users are said to unlock their gadgets more than 100 times per day, it’s no surprise that our relationship with information and technology is about to be taken to a whole new level. Some people will love it, others will no doubt be irritated by being constantly visible and accessible to marketing. But there’s no doubt that if people do buy into the Apple Watch in the millions, as predicted, it will open up a lot of possibilities for future communication, which would be naïve for retailers and brands to ignore.

We expect the wearers of technology, such as Apple Watch, or other alternatives including Pebble SmartWatch or Google Glass, to share more data than ever, about what they’re doing and where they are. The beauty of this is that savvy marketers can watch closely, build a picture of consumer habits, and even try to anticipate their next move. Personalized offers and content could then be sent to devices, relevant to what people are doing, their interests and purchase habits. This is nothing new, as personalized offers and data analytics are commonplace in the digital age of mobile and tablet connectivity. In fact, in the last year, offers have become even more targeted and sophisticated with the use of beacon technology in stores, sending offers and messaging to mobile phones, based on the precise location of a consumer in-store and what they are interacting with. For example, a location based offer of an extra ten percent off when consumers are in the homewares department, to entice them to buy there and then rather than go away to compare prices online and perhaps lose the sale.

Savvy marketing messaging

If, as we can see, some of the benefits of wearable technology are not particularly different to existing practices across other mobile devices, what is the appeal for marketers? What are the possibilities for communication with shoppers?

One of the key strengths of this technology is visibility. A device that is on your person, is obviously more visible at all times than a phone which is often hidden away in your pocket or bag. This means messaging is more likely to be seen instantly and crucially at the desired time to attract a purchase, which is of the utmost importance to retailers and brands in such a competitive retail landscape. Another benefit is in measuring and monitoring consumer location, as well as their emotions. As location-based marketing is still relatively new, wearable tech is now set to up the ante by not only allowing the location to be discovered, but also enabling emotions to be measured. Tiny sensors embedded in the technology can read people’s biological responses to products and services. This will mean exciting news for brands, that it will be possible to know how people feel when they view, touch, interact, or buy products.

Considering everything we know currently, we have listed our key recommendations for marketers who might be looking to investigate marketing strategies for wearable technology:

Ensure campaigns are “glance-able”

Companies and brands need to ensure its communication is relevant and easily absorbed in seconds, at a glance --  particularly as some of the wearables have such small screen space. There are companies that offer subscription services to deliver communication to any wearable device. However, retooling the same email and newsfeeds to yet another format is the very minimum a marketer will need to do to engage with customers through smartwatches and glasses.

Location and emotion

By using the data available from devices, brands can not only send location-based offers based on where consumers are, but can also address their emotions. This will help create stronger and more relevant offers and content for consumers. Considerations include location, point in the shopper journey, time of day, and also shopper habits and mood.

Solve problems and create convenience

As above, owing to the fact that data can be captured to show both location and emotion should be analyzed to help solve very specific problems and create convenience. Think not necessarily about typical brand marketing, but making consumers lives easier, offering the right service at the right time.