02 Mar 2018 20:33 IST

Wearables are the next big thing for marketers

A women wearing a virtual reality headset in a crowded marketplace in a foreign country

With smart devices recording a wearer’s tastes and preferences, brands can offer customised content

The future has already arrived with wearable technology in mainstream gadgets such as smartwatches and fitness bands. According to industry analyst firm CCS Insight, wearable devices — including smartwatches, fitness trackers, virtual and augmented reality headsets, and cameras — are set to grow from 84 million units in 2015 to 245 million units in 2019.

From eyewear that gives increased information about the world around you to smart-wear T-shirts that can track your physical performance, technology will soon be integrated with daily objects. Levi’s collaborated with Google for Smart-Jackets (goo.gl/p2cwxm). This denim jacket has a smart tag on the cuff that allows users to control their paired smartphone with the help of a Bluetooth-powered dongle stored in the cuff.

For marketers, this is definitely an incredible opportunity, just like mobile devices were in the early 2000s. Wearable technology can change the way they reach out to users and gather data to advertise in a focussed way and convert prospective customers.

Here are three ways wearables will change marketing — and what you can do to be ready:

Develop content strategy

The content marketing strategy must be acclimatised to wearable devices with information (not more than 140 characters) designed to fit the smaller screens on smartwatches and eyewear. This means that marketers cannot rely on blogs and videos to entice users. Marketers will have to create snippets that suit these new-age users.

This is not necessarily bad news because wearables will provide marketers with lots of real-time data that will allow them to create targeted messages. The desired content may also be delivered in voice format, as most wearables lack screens. Therefore, assimilating wearables into your content strategy requires changing your content format, length, and delivery of the message.

Look for patterns

Up till now, marketers have been collecting data only on user demographics and online behaviour. Wearables, in contrast, provide offline data on users that were formerly inaccessible. Data on daily routines, physiological changes, and the decision-making process can be a radical discovery for your brand.

Imagine if we could understand the eye pupil dilation of a consumer as she walks across the shelves in a retail store. Wearables that can track bodily activities will enable marketers to understand the level of interest in and her reaction to new products. Such intricate data will allow marketers to determine their target audience, create exceptional products and deliver more personalised content.

The evolved buyer’s journey

How we shop today is different from the way we did a decade ago. A typical consumer today goes through an information search on numerous websites and mobile applications — and at times visit the stores — before making the final decision.

In fact, Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) suggests that an average consumer goes through more than 10 brand touch-points on her purchase journey. Wearables can modify this by lengthening or shortening it. Notifications on a timely basis may speed up the process by offering adequate touch-points in a short span. Therefore, brand interactions will basically become a part of the usual day, where brands need not wait for users to log in — for example, a healthcare brand that provides a blood sugar level alert after every meal consumed.

It’s time to wrap up

Wearable technology is still in its nascent stage but will be ubiquitous by 2020. The collaboration of wearables, artificial intelligence, and internet of things will bring about a huge shift in how businesses market their products.

And with the myriad emerging technologies, such as Smart TVs and personal digital assistants, marketers can digitally connect with their target audiences.

But before you decide to invest in the next marketing flavour of the season, it’s important to get a good idea of what success on that particular device or platform looks like, to ensure you have the right tools and internal support to get there. No matter what you do, though, make sure that your path to marketing is cross-platform.

Technology will keep evolving. Therefore, savvy marketers shouldn’t paint themselves into a corner by focusing all their efforts on a single technology.

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