Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wearable Technology: The Ultimate in Personal Marketing

New wearable technology is giving brands the perfect opportunity for one-to-one marketing.
In these columns we recently discussed digital innovation in the home and how the technology and marketing axis was poised to, hopefully benignly, take over your life. 
How much more intimate could things get? 

The Holy Grail

In the world of personal and relationship marketing, perhaps one more step. 

Your personal ecosystem and that world of electronic, digital, and social tools that you immerse yourself into, creating a digital ecosystem that ultimately defines who you are, what you do, and how you spend your time and money. 

Tapping into this personal ecosystem is the ultimate marketing goal. Being able to influence behavior of the individual and their circle of family, friends, and contacts through the data hands off people create wherever they go and being able to slot messaging and content into the platforms closest to the consumers’ heart, and wallet, is truly one-to-one marketing. 

Consider Your Ecosystem 

Consider the highly personalized, connected world we have all created for ourselves. Everything we do, say, play, view, and more, leaves a vapor trail of valuable personal data to be sucked up, aggregated, modeled, and then used to target content back into our lives. 

These interconnected platforms are all around us.

  • Smartphones: We all work, rest, and play with these little all-seeing supercomputers never out of our reach 
  • Facebook: We pour our hearts out to this and other social platforms, while other customers, sorry your "friends," helpfully signal their affiliation and interests 
  • Wallets: Of course mobile ones; as format wars settle, we will all end up with one, maybe two, wallets through which we will put much of our future spending 
  • Smart Devices: In your home such as your smart TV sensing much of your life and content consumption 
And the new kid on the block is the fitness or activity tracker. 

Getting Really Personal

The latest game-changer is the personal sensing device or fitness tracker that we willingly wear and let track and squawk the most sensitive information about our activities, health, and whole state of being. The big boys are moving into this space. IBM recently announced a move on the use of data gleaned from personal monitoring devices, in partnership with, Apple to launch "new employee health and wellness management solutions." 

Employee management seems to be one of the early adopters with opportunities for companies to optimize their employee health insurance costs. 

Beyond that, the promotional opportunities are perhaps limitless; thirsty, fancy a Coke? Tired, how about a power bar? Been in the sun a little too long, some lotion perhaps? Feel under the weather….I could go on! 

Meet the Super Aggregators

There are the companies that have already staked a claim on you, across many of the facets of your personal ecosystem. They are all household names:
  • Facebook 
  • WeChat /Tencent 
  • Google
  • Apple 
They want to be the gatekeepers to your relationship with the outside world, able to manage who can message you and how you share information across your ecosystem. 

Their ability to aggregate so many aspects of your life gives them huge power. Power for good, to make things better. But also power to control and abuse, hence the growing interest of regulators. 

When you wonder what many of these companies actually sell, the answer is of course, you. 

Implications Everywhere

Technology and Big Brother always sounds a bit scary; taking over and controlling our lives. And we do need to be careful. We do need to ensure that we consciously and willingly only share data with only the most trusted brands and we need to be confident that those brands will really use that data to make our lives better. 

Brands that build caring and trusting relationships will clearly do better. 

It is not all bad. Our ecosystems become so personal and unique to each of us, and ultimately only we, ourselves, can control and manage it. 

Consumers will firmly control the levers on what they want to see, what they want to share, and what and how they want to buy things. With everyone increasingly aware of their own value and the desire by many to exploit that value, the whole approach to how we sell will slowly have to change. 

Personal Commerce

Through our personal super connected ecosystem of social networks, wallets, and omnipresent smartphones, plus a fist full of e-coupons and daily deals, we are better positioned to buy anything we like anytime we like, increasingly, only on the terms that we are prepared to accept. 

Our ecosystem acts as our buying agent, filtering, and shaping the best deals that best meet our better articulated needs. This sort of p-commerce is demonstrated by a simple wish list, put down what you might buy on your wish list and then wait and see what offers you get. Perhaps the e-tailer will persuade your friend to buy it for you, even better! 

P-commerce works both ways. Every day we read of another industry disrupted by a new commercial model, be it Uber for beleaguered taxi drivers or Airbnb for snooty hoteliers. 

Much of this is about creating online marketplaces for things that perhaps would have gone to waste. Not just cars or spare rooms; old shoes, dresses, books, kids’ toys, or even ourselves on sites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

The ecosystem becomes our storefront helping us all become e-tailers as well as customers in a world of everyone selling to everyone else. 

A customer inside their ecosystem is increasing in control of their own destiny and we will need to engage, interact, romance and sell on their terms. This is truly customer centric marketing and business. 

Where Now?

As a marketer looking to move toward this customer centricity, where do we go with this, where do we start? 

Some starters:

  • As a brand build trust, love, and devotion in your customers – no one is going to play along if they don’t 100 percent trust you and believe you care about them 
  • Learn – your whole company needs learn about this, it might just change your life 
  • Get your head around data – it is everywhere and there is more than you can imagine. The buzzword is "big data" but don’t even go there until you can manage the "little data" 
  • Learn how to really market through the super aggregators – they may not be the whole solution but they will be part of it and it’s a new skill set
  • Practice getting personal – use the data to make your relationship with your customers better make them love you 
  • Look at your data privacy policy – it is probably out of date and understand regulatory or industry practices in your market 
  • Do stuff – get things out the door, start getting personal with customers, test, and learn 
  • Don’t worry if it does not always work out – if your customers love you, they will also forgive you 

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