How Flow Can You Go: 'Synched Lifestyle' Drives Wearable Technology Market Growth According to Consumers

This week we’re diving into new research from our Life+ unit in London, with implications on the wearable space for marketers across the globe.

Fitness tracking and faster payments are considered by consumers to be the most important uses for wearable technology, according to new research from WPP media agency Mindshare and Goldsmiths, University of London.

The SHIFT 2015 research project aimed to understand the key consumer motivations for wearable technologies and the opportunities they present for brands and advertisers.

Using a combination of consumer device testing, workshops, expert interviews and a survey, the research addressed consumer needs, how wearable technology can fulfill them and what opportunities this provides for brand communication.

Flow’, making everyday life smoother or easier, was the most popular need identified with 36% of UK smartphone users finding this of interest. More specifically, almost a third of respondents (31%) were interested in the use of wearables to order goods in advance to save queuing, 38% were interested in wearables changing heating or lighting preferences upon entering a room and 29% want to use wearables to open car doors, underlining the potential of the devices to make life easier for today’s busy consumer.

‘Reflection’ the use of wearables data to identify ways you can improve your life physically or emotionally, was the second most popular need identified with 35% of UK smartphone users finding this of interest. 

Fitness trackers have improved the lives of 76% of current users according to the research, with 50% of smartphone users interested in the prospect of wearables measuring and analysing sleep patterns.

The report also identified five key opportunity areas for advertisers (see below). The research also found that 13% of UK smartphone users say they are very likely to get at least one wearable device in the next 12 months, meaning 8million adults or 16% of the population will use them by 2016.

Mindshare UK Research Director Jeremy Pounder said: “The marketing world was slow to appreciate the significance of the shift from desktop to mobile. We don’t want to make the same mistake with the rise of wearables and the internet of things.

“As wearables start to connect individuals physically to the web, our research shows there will be huge communications opportunities for brands in terms of new, more personalised advertising models, brand utility and brand experiences fuelled by wearables. Now is the time for experimentation and we’re already applying these insights for our clients’ communications this summer.”

Dr Chris Brauer, of the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “The SHIFT 2015 research puts a lot of the hype and ambitions of wearable technologies to the test and it is clear that wearables can play a key role augmenting our humanity in a more natural and integrated way than the current generation of mobile technologies.

“There has been a lot of focus on the hardware and software companies developing new wearables but we wanted to look at the bigger picture and how marketing and consumer engagement with all brands is working or is going to work. Wearables have the potential to promote sweeping changes in how we engage and form relationships with brands.

“SHIFT is fundamentally about the historical and emerging shift from desktop to laptop to mobile to wearables," said Dr Brauer. "It is about the emerging power of these small connected devices on the body but it is also about the shifting impact wearables have on a connected self and world forming and shaping both interpersonal and intrapersonal connectivity, for example, by correlating your moods and your productivity levels.”

The SHIFT 2015 report also identified five key opportunity areas for advertisers looking to take advantage of this growing platform, embracing both advertising and content.

  • Push notifications – opted in advertiser alerts delivered to the wearable based on context
  • Search ads – paid search ads delivered to the wearable after a voice search command
  • Brand utility – services created for the consumer that are operated on the wearable
  • Brand experience – real world experiences powered by wearables
  • Content personalisation – delivery of personalised content on other platforms based on wearables data….

SHIFT 2015 Methodology

Research for Shift 2015 took place March and April and is a collaboration between Mindshare’s global wearable technology unit, Life+ and Dr Yael Gerson and Dr Chris Brauer of the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies (CAST) at Goldsmiths, University of London.   

Participants in the research were immersed into the world of wearables and were given smart watches, fitness bands, lifestyle bands, heart monitors, wearable cameras, and smart rings so they could fully understand the roles wearables could play in their everyday lives.

Mindshare defines ‘wearables’ as any technology worn by a human externally that is ‘beyond the three screens’ and that integrates with a human’s own biometric characteristics, which includes activity trackers (Jawbone), smart watches (Samsung Galaxy Gear), augmented reality devices (Google Glass) fitness watches and sensors (Garmin) and the broader spectrum of health-related devices.

Participants taking part in the research aged 16-40 were drawn from the general public to take part in a month of ethnographic experiments alongside two workshops.

The research identified six key needs that wearables can satisfy:

  • Flow: Making everyday life smoother or easier (e.g. opening locks). 36% of UK smartphone users found this concept of interest.
  • Reflection: Reflecting on ways you can improve your life (e.g. fitness & wellbeing tracking). 35% of UK smartphone users found this concept of interest.
  • Affinity: Connecting remotely with family, friends or shared interest groups. (e.g. sending hugs or heartbeats). 23% of UK smartphone users found this concept of interest.
  • Performance: Helping with specific tasks to improve performance (e.g. heads up display sports performance apps). 24% of UK smartphone users found this concept of interest.
  • Value exchange: Allowing tracking or data sharing for a consumer benefit (e.g. health tracking for insurance). 28% of UK smartphone users found this concept of interest.
  • Self-expression: Using wearables to look and feel good (e.g. smart fabrics, Apple Watch). 22% of UK smartphone users found this concept of interest.

Based on these needs we worked with our respondents to develop the different ways brands could take advantage of wearables and their data in their communications.

Posted on May 19, 2015 .