Brands and Advertisers need to care about wearable tech

Simple steps for the post-screen world


In 2000 Jack Dorsey started using a RIM 850, an early BlackBerry mobile phone. Inspired by the ability to check email on the go, Dorsey built STAT.US, a program that allowed users to share short messages with their friends.

No one cared.

In a recent New Yorker profile, Dorsey attributes the poor reception to no one else having a BlackBerry. But imagine the benefit to brands had they foreseen the cultural revolution Dorsey created with Twitter six years later. It’s still in its infancy, but brands have that opportunity now with wearable tech.

So far, Nike, Jawbone, and Fitbit have focused in on fitness while Samsung, Google, Pebble and others are creative smartphone-like experiences on another (much smaller) screen. Analysts’ predictions on eventual market size vary. IHS Research puts it at $6 Billion by 2016 while Credit Suisse forecasts $50 Billion in the next 3 to 5 years.

The fast pace of development so far, combined with analysts’ predictions, warrant attention from advertisers now. If wearable tech succeeds in the way some predict, the impact on consumer mobile habits will be exponential.

Wearable tech will disrupt mobile.

The US has more cellphones than people and more than one third own a tablet. Mobile penetration is high, and brands that understand mobile have formed an unparalleled intimacy with their customers.

But consumer mobile habits are changing. Phones are getting larger and tablets are getting smaller. There’s a limited difference between phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note III and the new iPad mini. Consumers might turn to a phablet + wearable tech solution, abandoning separate phones and tablets.

Wearable tech gives brands an even closer connection to their customers. It’s not just where they are, but now how they move. But as consumers move to wearable tech there’s no guarantee the culture of app development that exists on mobile and tablets will survive. Some brands could be locked out.

Advertising will become post-screen.

Advertisers love to talk about screens: mobile, tablet, TV, desktop, and game console. Wearable tech will be another possible consumer touch point, but the technology won’t necessarily follow a screen paradigm.

Wearable tech’s value proposition is routed in consumers receiving utility in exchange for sharing additional details. I let Nike see how much I move in exchange for tracking my fitness; not to sell me shoes.

For brands to find their way on wearable tech, the way they communicate with their customers must change. Consumers won’t interact with mobile display ads or branded apps on a 1-inch screen. The value exchange will become utility in return for sharing context.

Apps that exist for the brand and not for the customer will be left behind.

Image representing Jack Dorsey as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Consumers are already becoming more selective with the apps that they engage with. In a recent presentation I saw by AOL Digital Prophet David Shing, he discussed how the average is 41 apps on a phone, with only five being used regularly. With wearable tech, if an app is rubbish it won’t even get downloaded.

What brands can do now.

All that said, I don’t think brands shouldn’t be jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon yet. Similar to Dorsey’s STAT.US in 2000, the market size is still too small.

But brands do have the opportunity to improve how they leverage consumer data to add utility and value. When consumers adopt wearable tech they will look to brands they trust. Imagine the business benefit to being ahead of this curve.


Further Reading

Loyalty marketing, wearable tech, and milkshake moments


Marketing strategy lessons from Walgreens



Written by

Andrew Rusk

marketing insights & strategy. closet foodie. horrible uke player. views are my own.




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