5 New Marketing Trends Brought to Us Via Wearables: 2017 Edition

February 23, 2017 Charles Poladian

marketing trends

In an increasingly technological world, marketers need to keep up with the times. Not only do you have to worry about email, social media, video, written content, and your users’ experience on desktop and mobile, but now, as you’re well aware, advanced technology such as AI and machine learning are coming into the fold, creating predictive models to better fit the needs of consumers and necessitating personalization. And that’s just the start of the long list of marketing trends that are heating up this year.

With all that on your plate, it makes sense that your brand might not have put much thought into wearable technology. Sure, as a director of marketing, you realize there’s an incredible opportunity in wearables—smartwatches, fitness trackers, and affordable VR headsets are just a few tools you know you can use to connect your brand with your audience more deeply. But, as you learned in your quarterly meeting yesterday afternoon, some of your colleagues in the C suite aren’t so convinced.

That’s understandable, too: after all, Google Glass seems to have failed (with contenders just now trying to improve the smartglass product), the best VR experiences are too expensive, and it’s easy to assume that smartwatches and fitness bands are far too limited to be used as content marketing technology. With so much uncertainty surrounding this technology, it’s hard to tell exactly where it could even fit in your content strategy.

But you know better. You know there’s a world of immersive storytelling waiting to be explored with wearables—you just need to prove it.

In 2015, the Content Standard shared five up-and-coming wearable tech trends. But it’s 2017 now, and the devices have transformed marketing in brand new ways. These five brands are proof of the power (and strategy behind) wearables in action this year.

1. High Fashion (Kate Spade)

Wearables have, for the most part, been boring. Either as a bracelet or a watch (usually made some combination of rubber and plastic), these adornments don’t spark fashion-conscious consumers’ imaginations. While functional, these devices have traditionally been far from fashionable. That’s changing in a big way with many companies adding flair to fitness trackers.

Kate Spade, for example, has tracking bangles and other wearables that can work on the track or a night out. (More importantly, they actually complement your wardrobe.) Swarovski also offers a line of activity trackers that sparkle as they track your sleep habits. And even Fossil, which acquired Misfit back in 2015, is rumored to be expanding into wearables, even pushing its brand beyond smartwatches.

By highlighting a multiuse experience, your brand can use wearables to truly become part of your audience’s life and aesthetic, serving as a form of expression.

Disney

2. Increased Connectivity (Disney)

Family vacations are supposed to be fun, especially when you’re going to the “happiest place on Earth.” You may think you’re saving time and stress by booking a stay at a Disney Resort prior to your dream vacation. However, there’s still meals, reservations, and park tickets to keep track of—along with your very excited children.

Disney understands that consumers’ happiness means a potential increase in spending, which is why the Magic Band is a great example of a smart marketing trend using wearable technology. The Magic Band connects to MyDisney Experience to keep track of your hotel room access and FastPass+ Selections, along with food and merchandise purchases. Magic Bands also feature all the most popular Disney and Star Wars characters, and as a bonus, Magic Band owners can unlock personalized experiences during their vacation.

For Disney, it’s a great win as it keeps users extremely happy while collecting a lot of data on patrons. It’s a seamless experience with the type of connectivity consumers expect from their technology.

Your brand might not offer Disney-level interactions, but users do experience your brand every day. Think about the ways in which users come in contact with your brand—then get creative in providing enhanced access to those touch points. For example, if you’re in human resources and often recruit potential employees, maybe part of your package is an app that connects with a user’s smartwatch, guiding them around the neighborhood and highlighting your employee’s favorite bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and other spaces as they kill time before their next interview.

3. All-Day Technology (Under Armour)

An athletic apparel company using a wearable is a no-brainer—as long as you know why your audience is using them. Users of Fitbits, Nike Fuelbands, and UA Bands, for example, all look to their devices to help them study their bodies. Why? Because if you want to set a new personal record, lose weight, or live a healthy lifestyle, you need to understand how your body responds to the work you’re doing.

Under Armour gets that. The brand has developed has a whole line of Smart Gear, from running sneakers that help you understand how you should be running to sleepwear that claims to help you recover better. For any brand with a young, energetic audience, it’s important to realize that marketing doesn’t stop when they stop. Find ways to maximize their potential in all facets of their life and they’ll live happier, healthier, and with your product on them.

4. Omnipresence (Fitbit)

Part of the hype surrounding VR and augmented reality is the idea of tech transporting us beyond our physical location. I can swim with dolphins from New York City or enhance my neighborhood with landmarks that come to life via an app.

Fitbit is blurring reality further with the release of its Adventure app. The hiking trails of Yosemite National Park are now part of your morning jog with Fitbit’s app that connects to all of its devices. The company also rewards users with fun trivia or advice to continue living a healthy life. Through Adventures, Fitbit provides its users with a holistic experience, the heart of which is the wearable. The campaign creates an interactive form of storytelling driven by what you’re wearing on your wrist.

For brands, the big takeaway here is that wearables are the canvas for a broad swath of content types. When it comes to wearables, don’t limit your brand to devices; instead, let them sit at the root of your next experience.

5. Everyday Enhancement (Ford)

A distracted driver is an unsafe driver. Instead of giving users one more thing to worry about, Ford is exploring wearables to make driving a better overall experience for your health. Augmented reality is already a much talked about feature that’s being implemented in more cars (think heads-up displays that show gas levels or miles per hour on your windshield), and Volvo even has in-car delivery to make errands a walk in the park.

The Ford Wearables lab is looking at the technology to monitor the health and well-being of drivers for safer experiences. The car manufacturer is also exploring ways to connect driver assistance technology to wearables. A wearable now goes beyond just tracking your health. It can actually improve your driving experience, which unlocks a lot of interesting marketing possibilities. Imagine wearing a fitness tracker that’s connected to your car that adjusts the sensitivity of the vehicle’s lane detection if it detects sleepiness or increased heart rate.

Wearables are no longer limited to wrists, with many affordable options capable of delivering breathtaking experiences. Companies have a reason to be excited with VR, and several of these campaigns prove there’s plenty of potential in smartwatches and fitness trackers. By embracing the interactivity and versatility of the wearables, these content marketing trends can unlock memorable campaigns.

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