Internet Of Things -- Driving The Next Wave Of Brand Engagement

From a marketing perspective, the Internet of Things is really about engagement.

New connections among billions of objects will provide new methods and opportunities to connect with consumers.

It’s not so much about the technology involved, or what I view as the IoT plumbing, as much as it is about what can happen when so many connections are in place.

And now a new report is out suggesting that brands should look beyond the technology and understand that the intersection of mobile and IoT will drive the next wave of brand engagement.

We heard bits and pieces of this idea at the MediaPost OMMA Boston conference this week.

Forrester Research has taken a deep dive into the subject in a new study, ‘The Internet of Things Redefines Brand Engagement,’ which is based on a survey of 4,600 U.S. adults, weighted to reflect the general population.

The IoT brings several capabilities for marketers, including being able to listen to customers to analyze real behaviors, create more frequent  and intimate consumer interactions, differentiate customer experiences and build new offerings and business models, according to Forrester.

There still are short-term challenges, including the lack of mass reach due to niche consumer adoption and single-purpose applications being too limited, with abandonment but a click away.

For example, Forrester found that only 14% of U.S. consumers control or monitor home appliances or utilities using a phone or tablet, still the main control devices for connected or smart objects.

However, a third (33%) of U.S. online adults will use some form of IoT across home, wearables or car this year, with the main usage centering around wearables and smartwatches.

Brands are expected to leverage various aspects of the IoT. Here’s how various categories of brands are expected to tap into the IoT opportunity in the next couple of years, according to Forrester:

  • Sport, fitness, health brands – Consumer brands in this space are poised to benefit from consumers’ interest in capturing and storing personal data on wearables. Marketers are likely to develop specific engagement tactics, such as gamification to drive behaviors toward more wellness.
  • Automotive brands – In advance of driverless cars, which may be 10 years or so out, about 10% of U.S. online consumers this year will use smartphone-enabled, auto app accessories, that retrofit connected car features to older cars. These can provide a new gateway to consumers in cars.
  • Insurance companies – Home insurance companies this year will begin to broadly promote smart home discounts.
  • Retail – Emerging digital technologies, such as virtual reality, digital mirrors, RFID tags and beacons, are transforming retail experiences both in stores and at home. Embedding tech such as NFC tags, QR codes, image recognition and augmented reality into product packaging is an opportunity to engage at the point of sale and later. Forrester says marketers should experiment with these technologies early to learn how to extend product opportunities and experiences directly into homes of consumers.

Each brand category ultimately will be involved with consumer engagement within the Internet of Things.

The only question is which brands and agencies will be early and which will be late, both of which have obvious consequences.


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