Gartner forecast* projects wearable devices to exceed 300 million in sales just this year (2017), proving how popular wearable devices are, and how big the marketing opportunity is. If you are not familiar with the term, a wearable device is any technology worn by humans. For example Apple Watch, Fitbit, Google Glasses, etc.
So from a marketing perspective, how are wearable devices different to mobile devices? And what are some possible challenges and opportunities?
Let’s think about screen sizes for a second. Apple Watch has a 38 mm display, compared to the iPhone 8 (4.7-inch display) or iPad (9.7-inch display). As you can see, we have a lot less real estate to work with, so typical mobile advertising will not transition well into many wearable devices. However, we are quickly moving toward voice commands (using Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant), so screen size is only a short-term challenge.
Most of us are still accustomed to using screens as input devices, but Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are quickly changing that. Also, it’s safe to assume that wearable devices will move into that direction as well; therefore, marketers will have to rethink how voice commands fit into their marketing strategy.
Augmented Reality And Virtual Reality Headsets
AR and VR headsets have the most potential to transform marketing as we know it today. No other wearable device can match AR/VR’s ability to create a truly immersive experience, and devices such as HTC’s Vive, Oculus, Samsung’s Gear VR, Google Daydream, and Playstation VR are just scratching the surface of what is possible. In the not so distant future, Augmented Reality will be able to interact with all human sensors – sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. This is the holy grail for excellent storytelling and marketing in general.
Storytelling & Personalization
All good marketing involves some level of storytelling and personalization. How will wearable devices impact our ability as marketers to tell stories and personalize customer experiences? The sheer amount of data we will be able to collect with wearable devices should make personalization easier. Maybe even to the point where personalization is customer-specific and not persona specific – the options are endless. However, great storytelling always starts with an idea, not with technology; therefore, a shift to wearable will change our delivery method, but not the creative process needed to develop a great story or marketing campaign.
Data Collection & Privacy
Marketers love to track data so they can learn more about their customers, and ultimately improve the customer experience. However, not all data is useful and where do we draw the line? Wearable devices allow us to collect what seems like an infinite amount of data. For example, most Fitbit customers wear their Fitbit 24 hours a day, only taking it off when it needs to be charged. Future wearable devices will be a lot more sophisticated and able to collect even more data. Collecting this much information is great for personalizing customer experiences, but it may raise some important privacy questions.
As marketers, we should all be excited about new technologies and the opportunities they bring, but we should never start a creative process (e.g. campaign brainstorming) with technology in mind. For example, “How do we take advantage of wearable devices?” More often than not these types of campaigns return mediocre results. Just because technology is available doesn’t mean you have to use it. As we mentioned above, great marketing is driven by creativity and good storytelling, irrespective of the technology in use. At the end of the day, ‘idea’ and ‘technology’ have to be a natural fit and not forced.