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Recently ‘the internet of things’ has become the buzzword in the press, seen as the future of the Internet, but is it just another gimmicky fad or is it something marketers really need to sit up and pay attention to?

Most customers now research products and services online before they buy, so if consumers begin to access the Internet in different ways, then digital marketing needs to be one step ahead. Every year more wearable technology devices are launched which gather purposeful data about the users activities, but also allow users to access information on the web.

Google has long since been shouting about their Google Glass project, and whilst not available to the general public yet, it does have the potential to reshape how and where consumers access the Internet. As an extension to a smartphone, Google Glass is used as an additional method of accessing and recording information. Kenneth Cole was the first major brand to launch an app for Google Glass, ‘21 days, 21 deeds’ asks users to perform good deeds and share their recorded experience online. This is undoubtedly the first in a long line of apps from brands looking to extend their reach through wearable technology devices.

In early March 2014, Google announced that they would soon be releasing Android tools to aid wearable technology development, confirming that wearable technology is firmly embedded in their long-term strategy. This follows announcements from LG, Sony and Samsung that they will be launching watches this year for users to track their fitness and activity levels using the web.

One brand that has been leading the way in wearable technology is Nike. In 2013 Nike launched their FuelBand, the first wristband that tracked a users activity and uploaded it to the web. However, the difference with Nike is that they have built a community around this device where users can compete against each other for achievements and high scores. This use of gamification is very cleaver because it encourages more use of the device and when users make achievements, they are then encouraged to share on social media.

The real value for brands using wearable technology is data, lots of data. The data gathered from mobile devices is limited (location, app usage, the number of purchases) and the usage of this data is limited, marketers lack data on a user’s true behaviour. Wearable technology opens doors for marketers, enabling a much more granular and realistic understanding of consumer behaviour. This data can then be used to create products their customers not only want, but also need.