Marketing in the iWatch Age

POSTED BY Greg Keating ON May 1, 2015 9:36:00 AM

Whether it is the iWatch, or a new wearable that takes hold is still up in the air, but certainly wearables are coming and companies should take note, and use them to their advantage.


As wearables expand into the mainstream—IDC predicts the market will reach 45.7 million devices this year and more than 126 million by 2019—every consumer touch point is subject to more intimacy and immediacy. Wearable technologies create new forms of interaction that will shape the tasks marketers do every day, like designing complex customer journeys, identifying more precise micro-segments, and creating hyper-personalized offers. The Apple Watch isn’t just a wrist-mounted iPhone, nor is it supposed to be, and this change heralds a new era of interaction.

AppleWatch2The Apple Watch is designed for consuming bite-sized content, not for catching up on email while you’re waiting in line. It will never replace your phone; its purpose is to work with other devices and channels to create rich engagement, whether tracking a run, unlocking a hotel room, sending an alert about a delayed flight or calling an Uber driver.

The key is integrating these interactions into daily life and the device ecosystem. More than data scientists, marketers will become conductors, orchestrating a symphony of human experiences with their brands.

The Apple Watch isn’t meant to be addictive; it’s meant to be functional. The intimate, instantaneous interaction model is about what’s happening right now. It’s that serendipitous moment when a person happens to be in the right place at the right time, and the watch can deliver an offer based on contextual details like weather, location, calendar, and personal preferences: “Darren, you have 20 minutes before your next appointment. You’re two blocks away from a Starbucks, so here’s a coupon to cool down with an iced latte.” This is the Internet of Things’ equivalent of putting candy next to the cash register. And it works.

Forward-thinking marketers will combine this contextual data with body telemetry and haptics (technology that communicates by touch) to reimagine customer experiences. Future models of the Apple Watch will have biometric sensors that measure heart rate, activity, and potentially more advanced biometrics like glucose levels and blood oxygen saturation. This information will allow people to instantly share crucial health information with their doctors, and will allow healthcare providers to develop patient-centric offerings and help prospective clients find the best solutions for their needs.

Consider a startup that’s already looking to the future of health care. One Medical Group has differentiated its brand through an exceptional patient experience, both digitally and in its offices. One Medical is particularly good at connecting its doctors and patients through an easy-to-use mobile app and online.

I can see a company like One Medical using an Apple Watch app to provide more personalized care. For instance, doctors might proactively email their patients based on health data these patients share from watches and Internet-enabled scales. An Apple Watch app would also be the perfect way to remind a patient about an upcoming prescription refill or policy renewal date, encourage a patient to schedule an appointment, or suggest a nearby office location for treatment.

Technologies like the Apple Watch change how consumers interact and buy, and therefore change how brands market and sell. More than an iPhone or a Fitbit, the Apple Watch will know everything about a user. Marketers will need to focus on using that knowledge to benefit the customer, helping them make decisions rather than selling. The wearable trend isn’t about a fancy new gadget; it’s about closer communication and more relevant experiences.

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