How To Leverage Wearables for Your Next Promotion
With an increasing number of consumers lacing up their sneakers and tracking their fitness efforts, it’s no surprise that wearables are seeing a huge surge. In 2015, 39.5 million U.S. adults 18 and over used wearable devices—a 57.7 percent increase from 2014, according to eMarketer. And it’s definitely the perfect time to capitalize on the trend, with 81.7 million adults projected to be using wearables by 2018.
While there were mounting fears that the Apple Watch would be an activity tracker killer, that is far from the reality that fitness trackers witnessed this year. Consumers are still reaching for their pedometers and heart rate monitors over smart watches, which makes the wearables category the next big thing for health and fitness.
With so many features and designs to choose from, it can be hard to know which wearable tech products are the best solution for your business, and ultimately, your end-users. To give you a running start (pun intended), Promo Marketing reached out to two industry experts for seven tips to integrate into your next wearable promotion.
1. Look to the Features
With numerous wearables hitting the market, consumers are forced to pick which one meets their needs. This means: the more features, the better.
“While fitness bands, smart watches and other wearables are already established in the marketplace, many of them are still looking for ways to improve their product,” said Haig Vartivarian, product manager at Pine Brook, N.J.-based Rymax Marketing Services. “For instance, wearables are serving multiple purposes. Right now, choosing a wearable means balancing the features you want at the price you’re set on, and not forgetting the look and style you’re trying to achieve.”
So what features are consumers looking for? GPS-enabled running, biking and golfing; Bluetooth capabilities; heart rate senor and heart rate variability; and a sleep tracker, to name a few.
2. Keep Design in Mind
Moving forward, it’s not about just functionality anymore. For Jason Schmidt, product manager at Garden Grove, Calif.-based Evans Manufacturing, the wearable needs the right consumer-facing look.
“We are working on new ways to make technology more fashionable and something people will want to wear everyday,” he said.
Vartivarian, agreed. “Moving forward, fashion is clearly becoming an important component of the wearable tech category,” he said. “As competition heats up, dozens of wearable manufacturers are forging partnerships with fashion icons to earn visibility as stylish and technologically-advanced brands.
“The old wearable tech look is dead and replaced by more fashion-forward trends," he added. "People are wearing smartwatches, fitness trackers and smart jewelry to complement their style. It’s a trend that a number of wearable tech companies are seeing, which allows them to design products for multiple purposes. Wearable tech has gone from geek to chic with products ranging in styles, sizes and finishes.”
3. Reimagine the Strap
Many retailers focus all their efforts on the face of the wearable, with little regard to the strap, resulting in a flimsy or uncomfortable wearable for the end-user.
“One of the most integral parts of a watch is its strap,” said Vartivarian. “Fashion and functionality has transformed, especially with the interchangeable straps and bands used to match purses, belts, shoes, etc.”
And while the Apple Watch is in its own arena of wearables, distributors can certainly steal a page from the Apple playbook.
“The Apple Watch, known for its sophisticated health and fitness tracking capabilities, has thoughtfully designed bands to change the look of your watch and make it more personal. With the Apple Watch, you can go for a sporty look to a classy one within seconds. The product is truly innovative and the look is indisputably chic.”
Schmidt agreed that the wrist strap offers more surface area for distributor customization.
“I have experienced many products with simple silicone and screen prints,” he said. “This is changing with designers getting involved and I am seeing more products with metal and other materials which will allow for more engraving and embossing."
4. Remember the End-user
The main thing that must always be at the forefront of your promotional wearable campaign is the end-user. For them, the fitness tracker is more than an accessory—it’s the start of their venture into the exciting world of health and fitness.
“Wearables are a part of a much larger picture,” said Schmidt. “For distributors and advertisers, wearables are not only in demand but a key ingredient into healthier lifestyles and [they] fit well into complete lifestyle programs. Wearable tech is not only fitness bands or 3D pedometers, it is the integration of tech into everyday style and a high demand trend that has been strong for several years.”
Although it might seem strange to think of user protection at the level of fitness and health trackers, many end-users have rising concerns about the security of their information. “Cybersecurity is also key in the werables industry, including the device’s control app,” said Vartivarian. “People are looking for smart watches that protect their privacy with custom security levels, remote erase features, Bluetooth encryption, cloud security and encryption of critical data elements.
“Forward-thinking manufacturers are working on ways to incorporate these securities into smart watches and fitness trackers,” he continued. “As much as we want to share information, we also want to feel protected doing it.”
5. Plan for Device-Compatibility
Most end-users utilize their wearables in conjunction with their smartphones, so it’s important that your wearable features device compatibility.
“[iOS or Android] device compatibility is another major factor end-users are looking for in today’s market,” advised Vartivarian. “As apps are replacing programs and the operating system, people are looking to see if certain apps are available for their phone and/or if they are for free. Although there are many differences between iOS and Android, they are still similar products with similar applications. Due to the proliferation of smartphones, end-users are looking for attractive devices with the very latest-cutting edge technology.”
Schmidt agreed that end-users look for “an easy-to-use app” and “integration into other objects” as part of the decision process. Basically, if it doesn’t work with the end-users’ smartphones, it probably won’t be used. Not surprisingly, however, it goes even further than smartphone integration.
“Technology’s tremendous evolution provides us with the opportunities to re-imagine the traditional work/life structure of our lives and determine ways to improve it,” said Vartivarian. “We also are seeing a growth with inter-brand functionality. NEST Thermostat essentially learns your heating and cooling preferences over time and automatically adapts to your lifestyle and the season changes. Its Wi-Fi networking capabilities and app allows you to control and monitor your home from afar.”
And there are even more possibilities as well.
“Smart tech and wearables are now focused on integrating them with other products such as action cameras, cycling accessories and more,” he said. “Much in the same way smartphones changed the way we access information, wearable devices have transformed the way we access information, wearable devices have transformed the way we experience our environment and life. It is becoming the leading charge in fully-integrated computing, connecting platforms that speak to one another effortlessly."
6. Look Into Corporate Wellness Programs
As consumers begin to prioritize their health and wellness, it’s no surprise that corporate offices are beginning to make health a corporate value.
“As many companies, both large and small, are adopting employee wellness programs, employees will take advantage of these wearable technologies,” said Vartivarian. “By including smart technology into corporate wellness programs, it can help prevent absenteeism, lower healthcare costs and increase productivity. As wearables are being adopted into people’s lives, they can only enhance and improve your organization’s current employee fitness initiatives.”
7. Consider Co-branding
A lot of leading wearables companies are teaming up with other proven brands to develop functional and trendy wearable tech.
“The market for wearable technologies is growing and the industry is looking for ways to deliver product that is both fashionable and contains compelling and intuitive technology,” said Vartivarian. “Imprinting/co-branding is becoming increasingly popular for our clients. The overlap between technology and fashion has provided opportunities for the two industries to work together and develop, market and sell wearables as Swarovski has done with Misfit.
“Co-branding enables the participants to leverage their reputations in their respective fields of technology and fashion, which can result in brand recognition with a variety of customers in markets across many different channels.”
Schmidt agreed that co-branding is a smart distributor strategy, stating, “brand name is critical in the decision-making process.”