How brands can add consumer value to wearables

Selina Petosa is founding principal, executive creative director of Rational Interaction

I was recently visiting New York and traveling to Central Park when I was surprised by an unexpected rainstorm. Caught off guard and unprepared, I arrived looking a bit worse for the wear and disappointed that I hadn’t caught the morning news, missing the warning of intermittent thunderstorms.

But it also gave me pause.

Could my trusty Apple Watch have notified me about the storm — and where to buy an umbrella nearby — in ways that TV, cell phones and other more traditional mediums can’t? Wearables represent one of the most personal technologies we have, yet they aren’t currently being used to deliver real-time information to make our days better, easier and more efficient.

With the rise of fitness trackers, smart watches and more, there’s an opportunity for marketers to reach consumers . Particularly in the wearable market, a value-add experience is critical to effectively engaging the end-user in the digital experience and, thus far, is a relatively untapped market. Too often, ads and notifications are pushed at the wrong time or place, or represent an irrelevant message all together, creating an unnecessary (or worse, annoying) experience for the end-user.

By embracing several principles, marketers can effectively leverage wearables to deliver real-time information that adds value to consumers’ everyday lives:

Determine what’s a “need to know” versus a “nice to know.”
What content must be shared right away versus what can wait? The key is to deliver relevant content in real time—without intruding on your audience’s everyday lives. It’s a tough balance that can only be achieved by truly diving deep into your audience’s preferences. Plus, the message must match the medium. For example, someone wearing a fitness tracker marketed to joggers is likely to be interested in weather and wellness-related branded content versus a consumer with a generic smart watch.

The message must be a non-intrusive, value-add.
Mercedes-Benz has mastered delivering timely messages in the wearable space. The company partnered with Pebble to create the Digital DriveStyle app, a non-intrusive alert system for drivers behind the wheel. The app pairs with the user’s Pebble smartwatch and can notify drivers with a watch vibrate if there’s an accident up ahead, among other functionalities. This branded experience allows Mercedes-Benz to build trust and credibility among its users by offering a helpful and non-intrusive digital experience — one that users will actually invite and remember.

Brands need to figure out how to break through the noise.
The key? Customization. According to Atlas, 60 percent of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. use two or more devices every day. To seamlessly integrate into consumers’ multi-device lives effectively, messages must mix customized contextual and location-based marketing. As Lisa Gevelber, vp of Americas Marketing at Google said, “By adding information about where someone is, what device they’re using, and the time of day, marketers can figure out the best message to show them — not just at that moment but for that moment. That’s relevance at its best.”

For example, if someone used an app on their smartphone to make a dinner reservation for an upcoming date night, the user’s smartwatch would then know to notify them as they walk past a flower shop on the way to dinner. This blend of context and location-based marketing paired with multi-device knowledge offers a unique opportunity to reach consumers in the most personal and targeted marketing experiences to date.

Had my own Apple Watch utilized real-time weather updates to notify me of the intermittent showers I had missed on the news or where to buy an umbrella near Central Park, I wouldn’t have fallen victim to the rainstorm — something that would have been quite the value-add to my day.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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