The age-old expression “wear it in good health” conveys a heartfelt wish for someone to enjoy debuting new clothes and to remain healthy for a long time. Now wearable devices, like fitness trackers and wired sneakers, leave less to chance since they can literally lead to consumers’ improved well-being.
Many companies such as Under Armour and Harmon Kardon have been active in the wearable technology market, while others like Visa have partnered with these brands. Executives from all three companies, along with representatives from the Mindshare and Digitas Health agencies, discussed the latest wearable tech trends during Advertising Week in New York on Tuesday.
Here are the highlights.
Evolution of the market
The average consumer uses less than one wearable device, though that number is expected to grow quickly within the next 10 years according to Warren Kay, VP of global advertising at Under Armour. His company hosts Under Armour Record, the world’s largest fitness tracking network, with a community of over 140 million global users and athletes that integrates 400 wearable devices, and it’s backed by a team of 150 staffers in Austin, Texas.
Harmon Kardon’s lifestyle division sells a range of audio and other devices like speakers and earbuds. Richard LaBonte, VP and general manager, foresees a move towards a more connected life in which consumers will buy multiple wearable devices, then pare down to use only a few. He said that such devices currently perform well in their own space, but combining different wearables into devices with connected services will also become popular.
Enhancing users’ health
Kay said that “If you’re not measuring it, you’re not improving it” is Under Armour’s motto, and the company’s data provides valuable diagnostics to improve users’ health and fitness.
“Wearables are about consumers getting smarter, taking information and acting on it,” added Stephen Root, VP global client innovation marketing at Visa, Inc. “The devices need to be useful and lead to a more informed lifestyle.”
More specifically, the key areas of wearables are: access to data, aggregation of trends and assistance in providing context for the data, according to Geoff McCleary, SVP and group director mobile at Digitas Health.
“Zappos carries sneakers that track the amount of running by its users,” said Jeff Malmad, managing director and head of mobile at Mindshare. “That should be tied to marketing and sales so consumers know when to buy new pairs to avoid foot injuries.”
Root agreed: “Where and when to place the signals that it’s time to take action is very important.”
“People are more comfortable now and less nervous about using wearable devices, as long as they’re using good products and are having friction-free experiences,” said Root.
LaBonte added that sometimes the software works well, but the device is not that easy to wear. He believes the back-end experience is critical, but not at the expense of wearability.
Future data challenges
“There’s a need for better profiles of consumers and their wants,” said LaBonte. “As far as the data, other industries haven’t gotten it right, but wearables need to.”
McCleary concurred, adding that unless the context behind consumers and brands are clear, there will be mountains of useless data.
And even world-class athletes won’t be able to scale those mountains.