“Silicon Valley is familiar with being shaken up, whether by disruptive startups or Google power plays. But the region was quite literally shaken up in the middle of the night by the Napa 2014 earthquake. True to form, San Francisco tech enthusiasts took to Twitter to share their experiences, and shortly after the earthquake, Jawbone had everyone chattering about the data it collected from Bay Area users that night. Only in 2014, the year wearable tech has been projected to grow an astounding 350%, could this kind of data visualization dominate the public’s attention over an act of god.
You don’t need to look very far to see just how much the wearable tech industry has taken off. Step into any gym these days and you’re likely to see more than a few fitness fanatics sporting FitBits designed to help them track every step taken and each calorie consumed. For those who are less health inclined, there are “iRings” designed to help you make music with a wave of your hand. These, along with a wave of new watches and sensory devices, point to the fact that the wearable craze is here to stay. Like iBeacon and social data targeting, it’s threatening the traditional demographics-driven model of marketing.
Beyond the locker room
Wearable tech is about more than just counting calories, of course. It generates a huge pool of data that’s helping consumers gather insights about their health and activity. Perhaps just as importantly, it informs industries and offers useful insights to marketers. For instance, wearable tech and its reserves of data have already had a huge impact the healthcare industry. When some smartphone apps and wearable tech sync, parents can monitor their diabetic child’s glucose levels from afar.
Imagine, then, if health insurers were able to access that same data via the child’s device and adjust the family’s insurance rate accordingly. According to a growing number of analysts, it’s likely to happen. Of course, access to big data in this way doesn’t always bode well for consumers, and will likely usher in a new slew of privacy debates. At what point does one distinguish between useful data application and commercial tyranny? Despite concerns, it’s part of a growing pile of evidence of just how much wearable tech’s data is becoming integrated in our lives and business.
Demographics’ days are numbered
If anything, the rapid-fire growth of wearable tech serves as an important reminder that marketers have the unique opportunity —and a growing imperative— to look beyond basic demographics as they aim to reach consumers. Advertising has become overly reliant on demographics which make its targeted consumer look, frankly, one-dimensional. But there are opportunities to expand interest-based targeting, as social data targeting and the growing anonymous app space are showing. As the wearable tech world continues to spawn new forms of data, marketers should look to broaden their demographic horizons just as their industry constituents have.
While analysts tend to focus on the future of the wearable tech, technology has already become closely entwined with our own lives. Marketers should take a close look at how these new fields and data not only integrate into their consumers’ everyday routines, but also into their own targeting strategies.”