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How wearables are transforming marketing

How wearables are transforming marketing Evan Lazarus

The world has a new marketing change-maker in its midst. Wearables. The Internet of Things. Transformative. Innovative. Disruptive. A new marketing world-order is about to descend upon marketers, leaving them with the now familiar puzzled, "What now?" expression.

Wearables are coming on fast and furious. Sensors are becoming cheaper and incredibly accurate, high-speed data is freely available (making connectivity a snap), and mobile devices have more than enough processing power to provide the data-crunching muscle needed to deliver the information in real-time to the palms of consumers' hands.

Clients are asking, "What should we be doing?" Your gut is saying, "We should be doing something." And your team is questioning, "Is anyone doing anything?"

Naturally, marketing is going to be affected. It is going to go through another transformation. There are some clearly obvious changes, and some non-obvious changes. We all know that wearables offer marketers the "holy grail" of content marketing -- access to location-specific data and -- depending what wearable we are talking about -- biometric data as well, through a highly connected super-computing device: the ultra-segmented audience. Data geeks are going to have a field day.

Which marketer hasn't dreamed of the possibilities: "Hey there, exercise-lover. We noticed you are really giving it your all. You need a delicious-tasting, electrolyte-infused drink. Oh… wouldn't you know it, the coupon account linked to the same email address you used to register the wearable you are wearing tells us that you have a BOGO offer waiting for you. It expires tomorrow, so just click on the map in this message, and we will direct you right to the place where you can take advantage of this special offer. Don't forget to wave your wearable over the NFC reader at the retailer to redeem your coupon and pay for your delicious drink."

Of course, all of this would have to be said in some miniscule amount of characters, to fit on tiny screens -- and with a whole new set of best practices, yet to be defined.

The thing is…we have heard (and done) this before: A new device, a new screen, a new way of delivering your messaging, a new vernacular with a new set of rules of engagement. These are all important changes that marketers should be considering, and, if they have been in the game for more than five years, have already been thinking about how to execute. That's the way the world now moves.

Some brands have gone ahead and created their very own wearable devices, and have consequently done a great job of creating amazing buzz. If you haven't already, definitely take a look at what Nivea did with their Nivea Protégé Sunscreen, or what Durex did with the Fundawear Campaign.

Unfortunately -- although very interesting and definitely innovative -- this doesn't help the brand that doesn't have millions of dollars to throw at new technology to get a few million YouTube views. What about a brand that doesn't want to invest in building wearables, or doesn't have a relevant message/test budget to deliver marketing messages to a wearable?  What should they be aware of?

The thing that strikes me about what wearables are bringing to the table -- apart from another screen to send a message to, or some more segmentation to our consumer buckets, or even the sheer volume of data we now have to create a look-alike of our consumer -- is the amount of data points the consumer now needs to interpret. Vast amounts of biometric data sent to mobile apps, desktop dashboards, and via daily emails are all there to offer a deeper understanding of how they are doing at any particular point in time.

I pose the question: is this new world of data-overload affecting the consumer's ability to make a purchase decision?

I encourage everyone in the marketing world to read a paper put out by researchers at Stanford and Princeton called, "On the Pursuit and Misuse of Useless Information," by Anthony Bastardi and Eldar Shafir. It theorizes that a decision-maker will delay a decision in order to pursue additional information that ordinarily would not be instrumental in making a decision, but now that they have pursued and found that information, ultimately make it an instrumental part of their final decision.

This is quite something. Think about all of the information that wearables -- packed with sensors -- are providing the consumer. Boat loads of it, constantly and consistently. Consumers are becoming so consumed by the pursuit of information, they are being "trained" to seek even more of it out before taking another step.

Will all that exposure to this granular data change the way a consumer responds to messaging? Will it change the way we need to verbalize our messaging? Will the consumer be in perpetual "analysis paralysis," making our jobs that much harder, as the consumer seeks out even more information before making a buying decision? Before, being thirsty was by itself enough to make a consumer seek out a drink with thirst-quenching capabilities. Now, knowing everything from heart rate and blood pressure, to temperature and distance walked, drink brands may need to be a little more specific in what they are offering and how they are offering it.

Another interesting read, "'Too Close for Comfort': The Negative Effects of Location-Based Advertising" theorizes that, although location-based advertising seems like a no-brainer for advertising, there often tends to be a decrease in ad effectiveness due to feelings of vulnerability developing in the consumer.

These two lines of thinking are only the tip of the iceberg in the psychological effects on consumers that wearables may bring to the advertising table, and are as important for marketers to consider as they embark on their planning and testing in these murky wearables waters as message length, screen size, timing, and data analysis. 

Marketers will need to become the interpretive glue to the data overload that consumers are experiencing. To sell a product, we are going to need to connect the dots for the confused consumer, enabling them to understand what all of this information means and how our brand can help. Brands -- and their agencies -- are going to need to figure out what the granular value proposition is to the consumer, and verbalize it in a way that helps the consumer fill in the missing pieces of information and ultimately make the sale. In this goal-driven wearables world, brands will need to find a way to help their consumers cross their preset finish lines -- "200 more steps to your weekly goal… our shoes can get you there!"-- all while ensuring we're not being too intrusive and making them feel vulnerable.

We are going to need to tap in, analyze, interpret, and deliver a message at the optimal time on the right device using the right vernacular with the perfect call-to-action, in the perfectly subtle way. Get ready marketers…it's about to get really specific.

Evan Lazarus is CEO at LazBro, Inc.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet. 

Strategy, Buying, Planning, Client Services, New Business, Vendor Relations Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Evan began his technical training as an audio engineer at the age of 15. Working as assistant engineer for famed record...

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