It’s all about wearable technology now. If marketers aren’t on board, it’s time look into it. Midu Chandra, one of the co-founders of marketing and technology consultancy mobiDdiction, looks into what marketers need to know when delving into this space.
Wearable technology is currently very much in an early adopter phase, however the power of connectivity is driving change at an unprecedented rate, fuelled exponentially by new technologies being launched every week. Everyone is talking about 2014 being the year of the wearables and for Hardware Manufacturers I would agree now is definitely the time. Smart watches. Fitness bands. Glassware.
Your whole body could be adorned with mobile gear that tracks everything from your location to the number of steps you take in a day. As sage marketers however, we need to ask ourselves the question; is now the time for me to invest my marketing budget in wearable technology or is it still a fad? When done well, wearable technology helps customers make immediate decisions based on their actions, surroundings and the data their devices record. Wearables are capable of sending and receiving text messages, being location-aware, calculating calories and shooting video and photo.
Revenue aside, wearable technology will represent a huge opportunity for marketers. The device itself is only one part of the experience. How one device syncs with another, how the wearer’s data is either shared with the brand for a more customized experience or kept private, how the wearer shares their data or experience with other wearers—these are ways in which marketers can further tailor content marketing, information and geo-targeted offers. Taking all of this into account, developing wearable devices certainly crosses into the developing-new-technology space and can be quite cost prohibitive, depending on your idea. So what should your thought process be and what are your options?
1. How does your idea fit into the “ecosystem”?
The biggest question you should first ask yourself is how does your idea fit into the “ecosystem” of consumer experiences you already have does it have a purpose? Does it integrate with one or more of the multiple marketing programs you have? If it feels like a one-off launch it is most likely not worth the investment.
2. Should we invent it or partner up?
How do you identify something that is special? First port of call would be to look at the wireless carriers within the market. Independent connectivity introduces additional pricing challenges, where as wireless carriers may be interested in offering subsidised pricing due to the potential data sharing opportunities.
3. Intuitive and compatible?
Lastly, you have to ask is whether the idea is intuitive, compatible with other devices and most importantly, fashionable. If it doesn’t look good, it just doesn’t stand a chance of immersing itself into your customers life. As you can see, there is a fair amount of rationalisation before you can truly decide that wearable technology is worth more than your innovation budget.
When wearable technology costs just enough to justify the software inside it and the value it provides, when it solves real problems rather than serving as a distraction and when more than a few early adopters simply cannot live without their wearable technology, then we’ll be ready. I would say wearable technology is here. It’s been here for a while now, but unless you have a big enough program and you really are answering a particular need, it’s better to wait for the market to mature.
We—consumers, marketers, innovators, technologists, retailers, data analysts—we need a little more time to play and innovate before this becomes mainstream.