The Past, Present and Future of Wearable Tech Promotions
Wearable technology has come a long way. We as a society have seemed to always predict what kinds of gadgets future generations would be wearing. Think about the thing LaVar Burton wears on his eyes in “Star Trek” (we don’t know what it’s called but write us an email to enlighten us), or even a real-life item like Google Glass, which looked totally futuristic and awesome but ended up being a flop.
The point here is that when we think about the future, wearable technology is always part of it, whether our ideas come to fruition or not. Right now, we live in an age where just about everyone has some sort of fitness tracker that syncs with their smartphone so they can count steps, calories and workouts.
Athletic apparel that comes with built-in technological features is constantly in development, like we saw with Under Armour over the last few years. And some designers are even looking for ways to print lithium-ion batteries into fabrics for even more seamless and comfortable wearable tech.
But, as fun as it is to think about what we’re wearing in the future (we’re still holding out for rocket shoes), let’s focus on what we have right now, in 2018. For help, we talked to Christopher Duffy, director of marketing for Ariel Premium Supply, St. Louis, about what end-users and buyers are looking for in their wearable tech promotions.
Adapt and Innovate
While tried-and-true items like pedometers can’t fail, Duffy said that customers are looking to get the latest and greatest when it comes to wearable tech promotions. That’s hardly a surprise. Think about how people wait in line for smartphones that are barely different than the ones they have.
“One of the biggest trends right now is a move away from simple-stat pedometers (steps, calories—wear on the belt) toward the more feature-rich trackers that you wear on your wrist,” he said. “While pedometers have historically used basic measurement mechanisms, fitness trackers employ more technology to provide better measurement [and] analytical tools, and therefore more detailed and accurate results. Add to this a design dynamic, and fitness trackers have also become a popular fashion accessory.”
Pay Attention to Retail
While it can be tough to stay on top of every new tech item that hits the market, it’s worth paying attention, as what’s new in retail will eventually come over to the promo side—sometimes sooner rather than later.
“Those items in the consumer-only space that directly connect to your mobile device will certainly make their way to the promo side,” Duffy said. “Driving the trend primarily involves the breadth of features fitness trackers offer, such as measuring sleep patterns, GPS tracking, connectivity to an app, and cross-functionality with nutrition and eating habits. All of these are a far greater measure of today’s ‘lifestyle’ habits that provide more tangible data to analyze, and therefore achieve targeted fitness goals, e.g. healthier employees. Printing on the band or watch face complements their ability to be a promo item.”
Everything is tied into apps these days. People love anything that makes their routines easier to plan or more entertaining. Because of the abundance of lifestyle apps, Duffy said that more and more items are following the trend of data-rich personalization.
“The most recent development is being able to connect the data collected by the wearable item to an app that can collate and store far more data, and to collect this data from multiple devices being worn by multiple people,” he said. “This improves the ability to identify trends and make more informed health decisions. Eventually, the data can be made available to health professionals to help with diagnosis of a variety of ailments.”
We’ve already seen that practice in real life, as a team of doctors in New Jersey used a man’s Fitbit data to make an informed decision after he suffered a seizure. Doctors looked at his heart rate over the last few hours, using the data stored on his Fitbit, and were able to properly treat the issue without potentially doing any damage. Conversely, there is some fear that data tracked and stored by wearable items could be leaked too easily. Personnel at one U.S. military base, for example, discovered they were inadvertently broadcasting their positions and movements thanks to fitness trackers connected to a global app.
As with any technological development, you just need to work out the kinks. Thankfully, wearable tech doesn’t come with too many of those, and that explains why customers are excited about wearable items.
And who exactly are these customers?
“Corporate wellness programs are the logical lead market,” Duffy said. “Siemens recently gave a large group of their employees each a Fitbit to test out connectivity to one of their medical products. [Also] health insurance companies, charity events (prizes for runs, walks, races, etc.), retirement communities, etc.”