It’s near impossible to be in marketing and miss that Apple announced its latest product: the Apple Watch. While the actual announcement was not a surprise to many in the “Apple Tribe” and market watchers, there is still significant confusion as to what this actually means for marketers. Not just what the Apple Watch means, but what does the space that Apple has just entered, more commonly known as the “wearables” market mean to marketing? There is also that other space called the “Internet of Things” (IoT). How does a marketer need to plan and integrate these devices into their marketing strategy?
First, the “Internet of Things” is just as the name describes. Many of the new devices we’re purchasing as consumers these days from thermostats to speakers to garage door openers (and now watches) are plugged into the internet. The benefit to us is that we can now connect to all of these devices wherever we are in the world which adds convenience and extends the value of the products. Next, if you’re unfamiliar with the term “wearables”, this term refers to digital devices that are worn everyday (or very consistently) by consumers. The most common examples are Google Glass and Smartwatches. These devices are constantly transmitting data back to apps that enable a user to relive or better understand their daily experiences.
The human touch
According to Gartner, wearable electronics are the human connection to the IoT, and apps can enable wearable electronics to serve as controllers for other devices in the IoT. The earliest adopters of wearables are in the fitness market where consumers track their workouts, meals, and daily activity. But the potential market for wearables is huge! According to Gartner, by 2017 wearable devices will drive 50 percent of all total mobile applications. With the fact that there are already millions of applications in the Apple, Android, and Windows app stores, this trend has massive implications for marketers that engage with consumers through mobile or the web.
The opportunity for marketers is this: consumers are going to be sharing lots of data about what they’ve done in the past, what they’re doing now, and their location. This means that advanced marketers will be listening and able to anticipate a customer’s next move. Offers and content can be personalized and delivered to that consumer’s device which they will always have on them; no more hoping a consumer is in front of their iPad or laptop. Consumers who adopt wearables can potentially always be addressable in context.
Now, let’s turn back to the Apple Watch that was just announced. As usual, Apple is not the first vendor to create a smartwatch; Samsung has had a product in the market for a while now. But Apple entering the market with its millions of loyal consumers means that demand and acceptance for wearable technology will become more mainstream and use cases will explode. In fact, initial estimates from analysts think that Apple has the potential to sell up to 60 million watches in the first year. For marketers, that is potentially millions of customers that have a new channel with which they want to engage with a brand. In short, this is quite a large market of consumers that requires a marketer’s attention. Further, Apple is planning to have its wearables in almost 150 countries by the end of year.
Don’t hire a ‘wearables marketing executive’ just yet…
But before you go and invest in several new mobile applications and hire new teams, let’s figure out what this means for a marketer now. The reality is that the ROI on wearables is still some way off. As mentioned earlier, the number of current industries and actionable use cases that are using wearables is quite limited. The Apple Watch will certainly accelerate adoption of wearables and push the market, but here are three steps every marketer should take to anticipate and take advantage of the new opportunity:
- Research your database and determine how many of our clients are currently using Apple products to consume your content – these customers will be the earliest adopters of wearable technology and can help size the opportunity for you (note: if you can’t answer this question, start there and look at your current technology platforms)
- Get your digital marketing team together and brainstorm a potential use case for wearables. Don’t try to force a use case on consumers and be sure to answer the question: why would my consumers want to hear from me through wearable technology?
- Establish a timeline for when you think this use case will become a preferred channel for your consumers – do not be tempted to rush into the wearables market as the ROI does not yet exist for many companies but innovation will happen quickly and it will be low cost of entry
What do you think? Crafting a wearables strategy or watching a fashion trend dictate the technology industry? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.