Wearable Mobile Devices Are the New Black
This year's hot trend in fashion is computers. Whether at SXSW or in the tech and media hubs on the coasts, people are excited about the watches, wristbands and "eyeframes" that double as computers. Not all of these gadgets will succeed and those that do probably will evolve rapidly from today's versions. But the trend is real—and marketers need to take note. They can expect consumers open to new forms of discovery and deeper relationships with brands, but also who have less tolerance for advertising that's irrelevant, disruptive or disrespectful of privacy.
Nothing exemplifies the widespread interest in wearable computers better than Pebble, a watch that has its own Internet interface, apps and waiting list of fans eager to buy it. Last year, the founders of Pebble went to the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter with just a vague business plan and raised $10 million from thousands of investors. In less than a year, Pebble started to ship product and, in the past month, has released programming guidelines for outside developers. Not to be outdone by a start-up, Apple, Google, Samsung and LG are all rumored to be working on smartwatches, and Nike has made a big splash with its own wristband that tracks calories burned—the Fuel Band. Probably the most ambitious of all is Google Glass, the smartphone/eyeglass hybrid that projects information directly onto the lens of the wearer. Initial versions for developers have begun to ship already.
All of these devices will take the mobile revolution to a new level. The original iPhone ushered in an era when consumers expect to receive relevant answers any time, anywhere, to any question—even if they haven't asked it yet. Still, wearable computing adds another layer of complexity. With screens that are always on and always feeding information, there's even less of a margin for error with irrelevant advertising, and more opportunity for location-specific discovery. There will be new types of data—e.g., biometrics, location, eye movements—that could be incredibly relevant to marketers, but also frightening for consumers already worried about personal privacy. As a result, most marketing opportunities will have to be truly opt-in and transparent in how data will be used—and how that use is actually a service.
Yblog identifies emerging trends in the fast-changing landscape of media and marketing and finds fun and often surprising connections—with real-time implications for direct marketers.
Yory Wurmser currently writes and consults on marketing and media trends for clients interested in innovating through new media and the data it produces. This is an extension of what he did for six years at the Direct Marketing Association, ultimately as the head of the Research Department. As director of marketing and media insights, he revamped DMA's publications to focus more on digital media and developed partnerships with leading research companies, including Econsultancy, Ipsos and Winterberry Group. He also developed internal strategic research and recommendations to help DMA adapt to the new marketing world. Prior to DMA, Wurmser ran a boutique management consulting and coaching firm and, in an earlier lifetime, earned a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. He lives near New York City with his wife and three daughters.
Reach him at Ywurmser@gmail.com.