Wearables are about more than just tracking our health and turning us into fitness fanatics. For marketers, the real value is taking such data and using it to tell stories to consumers.
In 2014, Nike managed to do just this. In collaboration with digital agency AKQA, the sports clothing brand gathered data from people using its Fuelbands or Nike+ Running app. At the end of the calendar year, the 100,000 most active users were rewarded with a customised animated film detailing their fitness feats.
Joggers and runners can be notoriously competitive creatures, who will even compare running times, so Nike wanted to get them to think of the data as a journey of personal development rather than simply as a number. The hope was that the story would resonate with them and motivate them to reach more goals in the twelve months ahead, and do so using its products.
Another big brand that has successfully delivered a wearables campaign is Nivea. It ran an advert in Brazilian magazine Veja Rio containing a tear-out, disposable bracelet, named the ‘Sun Band’, which beach-goers could wrap round their child’s arm. Parents could then download an app, sync the phone with the bracelet, and even set a perimeter for how far their child can wander.
The story Nivea was telling parents with this experiential activation was that they could always trust their children to be protected by its products.
Wearables may help to tell human and emotive stories, but there are challenges that any company needs to consider.
Anyone can gather data. It’s knowing how to analyse and put it to good use that makes the difference. Yariella Coello, head of consultancy at data science firm Profusion says that “data without context is useless”.
For example, a mattress company wants to market to people who track their sleep. Instead of just measuring the length or depth of sleep, it’d be more effective to consider other metrics that might be having an impact, such as whether they work nights, are married or have children. By putting it into context, the company would be able to tell consumers stories tailored to their personal life.
When building up a picture of a consumer’s life, it’s possible that the data collected won’t tell the whole story, especially if it’s sleep, fitness or diet that’s being tracked.
“Given wearables have to be physically worn on the body, there are limitations with accuracy. Sensors can break, or be placed in a location that gives an inaccurate reading,” says Coello. “Users may also forget to wear it or may intentionally take it off.”
Recent major data breaches and security hacks mean that consumer trust in having their data collected and used is currently fairly low. Any company that misuses data finds itself at the mercy of the wider public, says Coello.
It’s essential that any wearable marketing campaign is transparent about what data will be collected and shared. Some consumers may even want to know how it’s being stored and whether third parties will have access to it.
Consumers should also be able to opt in to any campaign, rather than have to opt out. If they’re to participate and be sold stories to then they need to be pulled in, not pushed away.