Wearable tech hasn’t caught on and hasn’t caught on. On Friday, Google withdrew Google Glass from consumer testing, and Apple has continually stalled on the release of their watch.
GoogleGlass was ripe with possibility but you know… still looked lame. And if there’s any moral in the still upcoming wearable tech boom, it’s that looks DO matter.
Whether or not Apple eventually releases their watch to popular acclaim, wearable tech will eventually arrive in the mainstream. Probably during 2015. For marketers, this can be daunting. Comprehensive mobile and social media strategies are still hard to deliver, and here comes another, vaguely defined innovation that may turn marketing, again, on its head.
We don’t really know what wearables will look like, and we don’t really know what they will do. So how can you prepare a marketing strategy?
By relying on what marketers do best: creative thinking, looking for patterns from consumers, and a little bit of imagination. Here are four ways wearables will change marketing – and what you can do to be ready:
1. Location, Location, Location
Called by some “The Holy Grail of Content Delivery” – wearable tech offers marketers the opportunity to speak to their audience based on their location, in real time. Location-based marketing, or “proximity marketing” already exists in mobile- Apple’s iBeacon and the image-based search of Google Goggles paved the way for marketers to offer product-specific information, discounts, and reviews as shoppers browse through a store.
Bringing this outside the store may be the next step – serving up a video of a creamy latte being poured as visitors pass a coffee shop, or offering an unbeatable discount on a sleeping bag at the moment they pass REI.
Location isn’t the only way to determine whose needs might match your product. The so-called internet of things is going to open even more doors.
Imagine offering a Jiffy Lube coupon the moment someone’s car needs an oil change. Or offering a coupon to a nearby ice cream parlour on a hot day.
Action Item: start thinking about what location-specific content you will want users to view – and try not to get too hung up on how they are viewing it (holograms anyone?). Do you want to provide product specs and side-by-side comparisons of inferior competitors? Do you want to provide “social proof” – product reviews and Instagram posts from consumers who love you?
2. Taking Advantage of Lifestyle Tracking
Lifestyle tracking gives you the opportunity define your ideal audience so you can serve personalized ads based on behavior.
Action item: Make a list of new metrics that can help define your ideal customer.
Previously, your ideal audience may have been defined something like this: Women, 30-50 yrs old, buy athletic gear, have school aged children. You’re used to defining your audience by metrics you can market to – who cares if they usually jog at 7 am every morning?
Well … now you do. Ask yourself this question:
If you could define your audience based on any metric – what would it be?
Your new audience might be defined something like this: Women or men, any age, who like to go jogging before it’s light out, sleep poorly, are often in noisy environments, but rarely go to stores.
(I don’t know what crazy product you’re selling in this hypothetical scenario – but probably some sort of noise canceling headphone that can be delivered via drone to very sleepy people).
In short: get ready for a more granular understanding of your customers and target audience.
Wearables will be able to measure so much: movement, stress levels, the sound in your environment, how frequently you go outside, whether you take the elevator or the stairs, whether you usually go to noisy bars or quiet cafes.
Let your imagination run wild – how would you like to micro-target your audience? It could be as simple as selling fitness gear to people who work out rather than people who read fitness magazines. Or as complex as noting inexplicable behavior patterns in your existing customer base, and targeting others that match that profile, even if the correlation to your product is not easily explained.
3. Rewarding Behavior with Auto-Rebates
So far, we’ve looked at how wearables will allow you to better target your messages, whether based on location or behavior. But after the ads, how will wearables influence buying behavior and purchasing decisions?
With auto-pay options that keep track of coupons and discount codes, marketers will need to think how they shell out deals– smartphones are already integrated with “tap-to-pay” options, and watches will offer easy payment options as well. Expect this to quickly be joined by solutions that help consumers keep track of all coupons and deals offered for a product, and automatically apply them at checkout.
Action Item: Figure out a new way to incentivize consumers to buy that won’t just result in giving away your product at a reduced price.
Rebates have long been the bane of the busy consumer. Who has time to mail receipts anymore? No doubt – the rebate is in need of a reboot. And wearables might be the answer. With the ability to track consumers’ actions, companies can incentivizing consumers to use a product after they have purchased it, with an automatic rebate after they have completed their goal.
For example: Nike could offer a 15% rebate on a pair of shoes after the consumer runs 50 miles total in them.
4. The Self-improvement Boom
Wearables are proliferating in the health space, and by nature, companies that want to target healthy (or not so healthy) people, may find a new channel in wearable tech. In its simplest form, this is an extension of targeting based on lifestyle tracking: consumers tracking sleep may be ripe for buying darker window shades.
But there’s something at the heart of the “self-improvement boom” that has less to do with targeting and more to do with your messaging. It’s up to you to focus out how your product can help consumers achieve their goals.
Expect the rise of wearables to be joined by apps that help consumers interpret that data. Instead of telling us how many steps we took, they will tell us which days are best for walking, or how much more active we ought to be. In these recommendations, there is a perfect space for product placement.
Imagine an app that, based on data from wearables, tells the consumer to eat more fiber. Including that with a recommendation to buy Quaker Oats has powerful potential for reaching new consumers.
Asking the right questions
I don’t have the answers – just the questions. And that’s a pretty good place to start.
What questions are you asking yourself to prepare for the wearable boom? What should marketers be considering as they get ready, once again, to adapt to new technologies? Tweet your answer to us @TINT or comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.