Is There A Future for Digital Marketing Within Wearables?

Keep your eyes peeled, kids, a new screen is coming to town.  While a bit down the road, 2015 may be the year that wearable technology marks a commanding presence, with products like Nike FuelBand, Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear paving the way for more development within the wearables market.  And given the much-rumored Apple iWatch, it seems that all the big dogs are looking to capitalize on this technology.

How Do Wearables Work?

Quite simply, wearables are sensor devices that are worn on the body.  In many cases the wearable is incorporated into the very fabric of one’s life – a computer in constant communication with its owner, an extension of the wearer’s own body.  Many wearables operate using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which is a way to wirelessly transfer data between computing devices. RFID tags are already used in several ways, such as animal microchips and toll road EZ passes, and “human” wearables are being used in specialized cases right now, such as in surgical rooms so that doctors don’t have to take their eyes off the operating table to view things like blood pressure and temperature readings.

Where there’s a screen, the digital marketer will come. Early use cases for consumer wearables include fitness tracking, mobile payments and service scheduling. Consider entering a shopping complex – with the wave of your hand, you can book an appointment at the spa, reserve a table at the restaurant, buy a pair of jeans at the store and purchase movie tickets and popcorn for later.

Marketing responsively. Oh, the possibilities! Wearables will offer marketers previously unattainable insight into the user’s past and current behavior. Retailers may know what stores the consumer previously shopped at, and which aisles the consumer is browsing in their own stores.  Armed with this data, marketers can predict what products the consumer is likely looking for – serving up product recommendations and offering a way to pay on the spot. Has someone been out shopping for the past three hours? Send them a coffee promotion to drive traffic into your coffee shop! The possibilities are endless.

Choosing the right vehicle. While wearables can be considered another screen to design for, it’s unlikely that people will effectively consume lots of information on such a small screen. But because wearables typically sync with apps, brands can push timely app, SMS or email content to the individual.  By avoiding the wearable, a brand can enact present-tense marketing without invading someone’s “personal space.”

Extending the experience socially. Marketers in certain industries can use their wearables to drive deeper engagement with their brand and extend the voice of their customer across channels.  Take the Basis sleep tracker, which on its website encourages users to share "war stories online to create a support system and foster a healthy sense of competition.”

These devices and their related apps could potentially store previously unknown details about a person – anything from medical conditions to driving patterns to daily routines. Will brands effectively leverage this data to tar­get users with rel­e­vant offers, con­tent and infor­ma­tion? Is there an ethical debate? Or do the positives of enhancing the consumer experience outweigh the negatives?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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3 comments about "Is There A Future for Digital Marketing Within Wearables?".
  1. Adam Hollander from Brand Marketers , March 13, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.
    Great article, consumer personal wearables are becoming very trendy. A little more then a decade ago, portable screens could not support video content and social media, was a Marketing Happy Hour.... Times have changed and Advertisers do not need to wait to get on wearable screens. Since 2004 T-Shirt TVĀ® has been a wearable marketing solution, capable of playing any A/V content on a persons clothing. We use NFC, RFID, Bluetooth, WIFI, and other technology to enhance the viewers experience and share the advertisers message. The medium is a combination of fashion, technology and human interaction which creates a memorable advertising touch point. We now offer T-Shirts, Jackets, Dresses, Aprons and other custom clothing. We are launching a new a site 3/24 in the mean time, you may view the older product here: www.t-shirttv.com
  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , March 13, 2014 at 4:58 p.m.
    Fine, so when it comes to not buying the item/idea supported by the wearable (and future permanent wearables), your total spied upon world will be rocked and shocked. It should scare the ____ off everyone. Big Brother will be look more like little brother.
  3. Kurt Ohare from ohare & associates , March 17, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.
    Here are a few more ideas as to how these sensors can be useful: 1. determine vertigo as an indicator of too much to drink and flash the bartender that you are not to be served. 2. an app to detect sneezing which immediately sends e-coupons for cold and hayfever remedies to your phone. 3. a sensor to detect when you are on the toilet which is uploaded and analyzed by OTC/DTC marketers who then compare it to your prior behaviors and send appropriate advertising. 4. a sensor that detects breath garlic and sends an immediate warning to the wearer complete with e-coupons for breath mints. 5 a sensor that detects where an individual scratches and determines whether it's dandruff, bug bite, poison ivy, or "something more sinister". And notifies the appropriate company. 6. a sensor that detects the state of arousal of your partner and notifies the makes of KY and the makers home pregnancy kits. 7. A sensor that reads the sensor of the person nearest to you to determine if any of your best pick-up lines are working. 8. A sensor that alerts the people around you that you are not being truthful (great when opening birthday gifts) And the list goes on. However - as for me, I'm getting quite tired of having my personal data available to advertisers, marketers and government entities.