Under Armour Gets Personal, Enabling Wearables To Make Recommendations

Consumers want personalized insights from wearables and at least one major brand is aiming to do just that.

Some of that personalized knowledge also can ultimately be used to influence a retail purchase, in real time.

In a presentation at the recent MediaPost IoT Marketing Forum in New York, Under Armour’s Doug Ziewacz explained that the company’s Connected Fitness segment is utilizing data from wearables to provide action-items individually tailored to each user.

The Under Armour Connected Fitness platform comprises various fitness tracking devices, including connected shoes and a suite of smartphone apps. It is also an open ecosystem, so consumers can use devices from other brands.

Ziewacz, who heads media and advertising in North America for Connected Fitness, said the platform is focused on tracking sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition to compile a complete view of consumers’ health and, better yet, how they feel.

All of the data from the devices is aggregated into the central app, UA Record, which displays a full-spectrum dashboard of the user’s stats.

This approach is what consumers want in the future, according to what some agency executives also discussed in a panel discussion about wearables at the IoT event. In addition to discussing the future convergence of wearables, some agency executives mentioned consumer interest in aggregated dashboards of the data from devices.

Transforming wearables data from static information, such as step counts, into valuable insights for consumers will need computational help, according to Rachel Pasqua, practice lead of connected life at MEC Global.

“I think that there’s an AI component that will or should come along to sort of help quantify that data for people and enable them to make it meaningful,” she said.

That transformation of data is a core component of the Under Armour platform, according to Ziewacz.

Under Armour has teamed with IBM’s Watson to bring artificial intelligence into the equation in what the brand calls cognitive coaching. The UA Record app and Watson analyze data from a user to formulate tangible, actionable next-steps for the consumer to take.

One feature in the app is a slider for users to indicate how they currently feel on a scale from 1 to 10. That user input then helps the app determine patterns and associations among four metrics (sleep, fitness, activity, nutrition) and the user’s overall well-being to improve accuracy.

This data can also help improve accuracy on the marketing side.

Wearables data, although not independently very useful for marketers, can provide value when combined with other forms of data to add a layer of context, according to Kinetic Worldwide’s Marley Kaplan, who also participated in the discussion at the IoT forum.

“That’s where I see the sweet spot of data from wearables,” Kaplan said. “It can be layered into other data points to be able to serve more relevant and contextual advertising.”

In Under Armour’s case, this contextual layer could directly influence retail purchases.

The data used and analyzed on the platform for users can be leveraged in conjunction with data across the brand’s retail locations to provide highly targeted messaging to individual consumers.

Ziewacz said this effectively bridges the gap between consumers and the products they need, when and where they need them, as well as if those products are in stock.

Other brands are starting to aggregate and package more comprehensive products and solutions that actually make recommendations to consumers using those devices.

For example, Philips recently created its HealthSuite platform, which includes a connected smartwatch, thermometer, blood pressure monitor and smart scale, all integrated to recommend healthy pathways for consumers on an individual level.

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