3 Ways Wearables Can Enhance Customer Experiences

Wear­ables are much more than sim­ply a mar­ket­ing plat­form.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Brands should look at wear­ables not as a mar­ket­ing plat­form, but rather a cus­tomer expe­ri­ence plat­form. That was the con­sen­sus at ad:tech San Fran­cis­co last week, where speak­ers also said these expe­ri­ences include reward­ing moments or pro­vid­ing ser­vices.

Despite recent buzz, wear­ables are not new. Kirk Drum­mond, CEO of engage­ment agency Drum­roll, notes Nike’s Nike+ device launched in 2006, but now the Inter­net of Things is extend­ing out fur­ther and con­nect­ing more and more devices, as well as to “us and the things we wear and poten­tial­ly our bod­ies some­day,” he says.

Exam­ples of more recent wear­able tech­nol­o­gy include shoes with insoles that con­nect to maps and vibrate when approach­ing a turn, as well as the Cur smart band-aid, which uses elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion and biosen­sors to can­cel out pain.

Do we want this exten­sion onto us? Is this some­thing that will ulti­mate­ly be a wel­come addi­tion?” Drum­mond asks. “I think the answer is about how we approach the use of wear­ables.”

In fact, per Drum­mond, the term “wear­ables” is sort of back­wards — and he even goes as far as call­ing the cat­e­go­ry a “bub­ble” because it’s “not about wear­ing tech­nol­o­gy, but tech­nol­o­gy infused in the prod­ucts we wear” and he antic­i­pates much more inte­gra­tion to come.

In addi­tion, he notes look­ing at wear­ables as a cus­tomer expe­ri­ence plat­form gives mar­keters unique oppor­tu­ni­ties for lever­age.

And even though wear­ables can help mar­keters reach con­sumers, there are lim­i­ta­tions. Like, for exam­ple, the device must ful­fill a cus­tomer need. In addi­tion, there are only so many places on a body to put a wear­able. And if con­sumers aren’t wear­ing the device it is “a use­less piece of tech­nol­o­gy,” Drum­mond says.

He even likens the oppor­tu­ni­ty for mar­keters to track cus­tomers via wear­ables to law enforce­ment track­ing indi­vid­u­als with shack­les on their ankles. But unlike shack­les, mar­keters can use wear­ables to dri­ve brand love by enhanc­ing the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence in some way.

And that includes:

1. Information.

Wear­ables can help brands pro­vide cus­tomer-spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion that can then be used to make more informed pur­chas­ing deci­sions. Like, for exam­ple, Drum­mond notes smart insoles for run­ners can track foot impres­sions and inte­grate with sen­sors in shoes to tell con­sumers when it is time to order new shoes or if there’s a bet­ter shoe out there for them.

The more we see brands look­ing at infus­ing tech­nol­o­gy to enhance the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, the more [mar­keters will] get to enjoy the ben­e­fits of this,” Drum­mond says.

2. Rewards.

Anoth­er way wear­ables enhance cus­tomer expe­ri­ences is via rewards.

For its part, Kiip, which calls itself a moments-based rewards plat­form, rewards achieve­ments in apps, such as fin­ish­ing a run or com­plet­ing a recipe.

Or, as Kiip CEO Bri­an Wong puts it, Kiip offers tech­nol­o­gy for brands to reward con­sumers in a sur­prise and delight fash­ion in 3000 apps such as Mint, Run­K­eep­er and All­recipes.

In a part­ner­ship with con­nect­ed car app Mojio, for exam­ple, Wong says Kiip helps iden­ti­fy moments like run­ning out of gas, lin­ger­ing to find park­ing or need­ing an oil change to cre­ate rewards with oth­er part­ners like Exxon, BP and Shell.

Kiip has also part­nered with smart­phone breath­a­lyz­er Breath­ome­ter to reward users with Lyft or Uber cred­its if they have had too much to drink or even with gum if their breath could use fresh­en­ing, Wong says.

We’re adding val­ue by look­ing from the cus­tomer stand­point. It’s a serendip­i­tous reward to moments that indi­cate needs,” Wong says. “A reward is one very tac­ti­cal way to address needs in a mean­ing­ful way.”

3. Services.

And, per Wong, one of the most com­pelling mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties with wear­ables like Apple Watch is in pro­vid­ing con­sumers with a ser­vice.

Younger Mil­len­ni­als didn’t grow up with wrist­watch­es and so “what we think of as clas­sic sort of sen­si­tiv­i­ty to intru­sion of pri­va­cy and annoy­ance is quite dif­fer­ent with Mil­len­ni­als and younger gen­er­a­tions where we are in a noti­fi­ca­tion econ­o­my,” Wong notes. “I believe it’s a sim­ple con­cept. The noti­fi­ca­tion econ­o­my is vying for attention…I get a tap on the wrist [with Apple Watch] before I get a visu­al noti­fi­ca­tion, so who­ev­er owns that becomes quite pow­er­ful.”

And, he notes, the brand­ed apps on Apple Watch are pri­mar­i­ly around ser­vices right now, or what he calls “an ad so good it feels like a ser­vice.”

Move­ment toward ser­vice – that’s the goal we should all be mov­ing toward,” Wong says. “I would wel­come a tap on my wrist if Unit­ed [Air­lines] was telling me my gate has changed. That’s not an ad, but ser­vice-ori­ent­ed.”

In addi­tion, he notes cus­tomers are more will­ing to share infor­ma­tion with ser­vice providers.

You’re will­ing to tell a ser­vice more about your­self than an adver­tis­er – it changes the dynam­ic entire­ly,” Wong says.

But brands have to be invit­ed in first.

Regard­less of whether you think of your­self as a ser­vice brand, you have to rec­og­nize it does become a real­ly impor­tant part of the mar­ket­ing expe­ri­ence,” Drum­mond adds.

And while fit­ness brands are more estab­lished in this space, he sees a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ty for trav­el brands in par­tic­u­lar to use wear­ables to ease some of the pain asso­ci­at­ed with fly­ing and hotel stays.

And in offer­ing ser­vices, mar­keters can iden­ti­fy moments that they can actu­al­ly own, like an aller­gy moment, a dehy­dra­tion moment or a dia­betes moment, Wong says.

These types of moments will need to be owned…the whole point is address­ing your need,” he adds.

And, Wong says, as mar­keters make their offer­ings more about ser­vices, con­sumer pri­va­cy con­cerns start to fade.

Add val­ue, add val­ue, add val­ue,” he says. “Every­thing you do should strive to add val­ue. Prod­ucts do that, but ads don’t. But if you can’t add val­ue through that expe­ri­ence, don’t both­er.”

In addi­tion, if the data devices col­lect enhances the con­sumer expe­ri­ence and makes users feel more like VIPs, they are more like­ly to be will­ing to share it, Drum­mond adds.

At the end of the day, Drummond’s best advice is for mar­keters to buy all avail­able wear­able devices and to start play­ing with them.

When you research them and don’t own them, you look at them as an intru­sion,” Drum­mond says. “But when you use them, you look at it as a moment that makes sense…and you real­ly can’t iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties when you don’t own them.”

What oppor­tu­ni­ties do you see for mar­keters with wear­ables?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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