The digital world has steep and quasi-infantile demands—or, more aptly, expectations— for immediacy and customization, either leaving brands scrambling or surging ahead. Keeping your seat on this high-speed train means not only embracing and conquering mobility, personalization, and location-based information, but also looking to be at the frontier of new platforms and technologies. One of the freshest on the scene is wearables, which brings whole new meaning to immediacy and “on-demand” marketing.
With the début of the Apple Watch earlier this month, already established adoption of FitBits, new exciting developments of Google Glass at Work, and public knowledge of the sizable investments in wearable technology across the board, the bulk of consumers are sitting in the wings as the early adopters take the first taste of the banquet to come. Marketers are busy observing product reception and consulting their abaci to see how wearables will be adopted and how this can fundamentally transform consumer-brand interactions—and working to craft their strategy.
According to a recent article in WIRED magazine, the newest wearable devices aim to reduce “the time between intention and action,” going so far as the day when “the device knows what users want before they want it.”
This is an extension of the “mobile shift” discussed by Forrester, necessitating “micro-moments” (instead of “mobile moments”) that allow seamless service right at the time of need.
Wearables are a member of the mobile species and therefore should be intimately linked to mobile and the rest of the channels that work in tandem throughout a marketing campaign. The challenge is to distill your message and identify the proper information to offer that incites delight or appreciation. For instance, large changes in stock price, airplane delay and gate information, or an end-of-season sale or mobile coupon for a favorite retail store located nearby.
2. Quicker & Easier Access
Immediacy and accessibility are married. Wearables are set to be the most accessible tech device. Digging out your phone from your pocket or bag takes relatively more time; surreptitiously checking your phone for the time is relatively disruptive. Wearables are integrated onto our person and designed for easy access to important information and notifications while remaining engaged with the outside world. As Apple says of its Watch, “it is our most personal device yet.”
According to Redg Snodgrass, co-founder of technology accelerator Wearable World, marketing efforts geared towards wearables must be “glanceable.” Information marketed must be relevant, concise, and actionable and put across in less than 2 seconds, and at the right time. The attention span of the consumer is shortening; the window to capture attention is narrow. With wearables especially, brands must become a valued service that consumers seek to always access and, upon customer opt in, deliver upon their promise.
3. Integrated Experiential Marketing: Sensors and Context-Sensitivity
With a wealth of new opportunity and data (time will dissolve the ambiguity around privacy) that is intimately linked to all states of the consumer, marketers must combine the digital world with the physical- both geographically and emotionally. This combination has huge potential for addressing extremely specific problems for consumers. Context marketing transforms from a promotional push to a service and informant, dissolving the annoyance often associated with advertisements.
A key to this is that robust data will allow brands to develop a granular understanding of consumer behavior, eliminating assumptions and empowering highly targeted campaigns. For example, ClickZ illustrates that “an altimeter can tell us when someone is in an elevator, flying in a plane, or climbing a mountain. Similarly, a health tracker can identify movement and stress levels, a microphone can detect noisy environments, and an air meter can differentiate between indoor and outdoor spaces.” This data will translate into creative promotions and tailored offerings, as well as niche apps, all interacting with the world and other devices, or “the Internet of Things.”
In a recent study, Deloitte predicts demand for wearables to increase to the tens of millions by 2016 and surpass 100 million by 2020. Smart glasses, smart watches, and fitness bands will reach an estimated $3 billion for 2014. New categories will represent about $2 billion in sales, based on 4 million units. According to IDTechEx, the market the dominant sector will remain the healthcare sector, which merges medical, fitness and wellness. CNN reported that Wearable smart bands, a segment of the wearable market, are set for 350% growth in this year.
These numbers are backed by consumer interest, as Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data shows: 45% of US and 32% of European online adults say they are “intrigued” by the prospect of getting a wearable device. Huge preorders on crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter reflect this.
Even without wearables swimming in mainstream yet, it is important to take into account the widespread buzz and excitement around the topic. The fact that it is so connected to the consumer underscores how vital it is to be consumer-centric in other endeavors as well during the time it takes wearables mature. By experimenting and assessing wearable technology and reception, marketers can strategize how to integrate wearables in their existing marketing campaigns and work towards wearables by striving for heightened personalization and immediacy overall.