Last month, in typical fanfare, Apple announced the Apple Watch – the first wearable device from the company. As expected, the unveiling was followed by a wave of media coverage that analyzed every last inch of the new device from the watchband color choices to the camera technology built into the tiny watch face.
More articles followed where reporters hedged their bets on consumer adoption of the Apple Watch, some saying it would no doubt catch on, while others had reservations. What has not yet been brought to light by reporters covering the news, however, is why the Apple Watch is changing the game for brands.
If the Watch does catch on, and creates a monopoly of the market as some have predicted, brands across the globe will need to step up to the challenge of the newest marketing channel – the wrist.
What makes the Apple Watch so interesting is that it could be the device that opens the floodgates for “wearable technology,” something the gadget world has been watching with a close eye, but has yet to really break into the mainstream. Today, a consumer’s smartphone is one of their most personal objects as it is where they keep their email, photos and even banking information. That said, the phone still lives in a consumers’ pocket or handbag, and at times is not available for their use.
With the Apple Watch and other wearables breaking down the barrier between device and user, brands have a huge opportunity. Not only can an organization target their potential buyer with a smartphone point-of-sale ad, but now they can actually monitor an individual’s heart rate and temperature as they approach a location. A point-of-sale ad then turns into a personalized interaction with the customer.
Maybe their heart rate is up from rushing into the store before it closed and all they were able to grab was a pair of pants. The offer could entice them to continue their shopping experience online next time by giving them a special discount on matching shirts.
Or even more personal, a brand could sense a buyer’s temperature via the watch. Imagine the chance to know a consumer is pregnant simply because they’ve downloaded your brand’s app onto their watch, which in turn monitors temperature as it relates to fertility? Target certainly might jump at that.
While there are scores of opportunities from a marketing perspective, this always-on technology also comes with its own set of challenges. With a wearable sitting on the user’s body, a brand is not just interacting with a pocketed smartphone. The brand is interacting intimately with the user, via their wrist. This intimacy means brands have even greater responsibility when it comes to knowing their customer and being relevant in their message to that individual. If a brand misses the mark and doesn’t provide value, or offends the consumer by being too loud and aggressive with the message, the risk of being deleted grows immensely.
All too often marketers get tripped up by the cross-channel buying landscape today and are not able to successfully interact with customers on a personalized level at every touch point, acknowledging their past experiences with the brand. As a result, those brands are missing out on providing the most relevant messages that an intimate device like the smart watch demands.
We’ve all experienced the situation where a brand targets an advertisement for sneakers via the web when you’ve recently purchased a similar pair in the store a few weeks back. You would probably get annoyed that the brand is targeting you for something you clearly do not need, and frustrated that the brand is not acknowledging your previous sneaker purchase. Take this scenario to the wrist and it gets even more frustrating if brands push irrelevant messages.
Customer engagement strategies that provide a unified experience across channels will now need to extend to the human body as the world continues to adopt wearables. Marketers will no longer have an excuse not to offer up relevant content as they are given the opportunity to interact so intimately with potential buyers.
This huge opportunity means more responsibility for you as a marketer, while you’re already juggling to make sense of the data that your other channels are producing and the connection between the online and the offline world.
Fortunately, you can have the power of the right customer engagement platform to do the heavy lifting for you. By figuring out relevant interactions at the most intimate online touch point to-date—your customer’s wrist—you are in fact deeply embedding the offline world in your brand’s online universe.
Harnessing this new customer journey as a synchronized whole will have enormous yield. For those marketers that get the recipe right, the Watch may soon be the key to a wider pipe and access to a potential buyer’s wallet.
Bart Heilbron is CEO of BlueConic.