The Politics of Data Exchange
When it comes to wearables, data is the biggest factor. And while the business of data collection has a tenuous reputation, Fitbit and usage-based insurance companies are just two examples of businesses who are engaged in a more transparent model of data exchange. By being open and clear about the transaction of data and treating customers as data owners, companies, says Kevin Petrie of TechCrunch.com, "can distinguish themselves competitively, increase brand loyalty and reap financial rewards."
According to a recent survey, consumers are more willing to share personal information with vendors in exchange for loyalty benefits and product incentives. Allistair Croll of Solve For Interesting believes that the defining shift in the approach to data collection will be that "nobody should know more about your life than you do."
Paul Ringsell of Beyond believes that:
"This is a positive shift creating a win-win situation where customers benefit directly from the sharing of personal information and companies can feel better about utilising it. It empowers both parties."
Authenticity is Key
There is no doubt that wearable technology is on the rise. According to MarketingWeek.com:
"Brits purchased three million fitness bands and smart watches last year, up 118% on 2014."
Companies like New Balance, Under Armour and Apple are developing new partnerships and new ways to connect and engage consumers with their brand. Fitbit's head of marketing Lucy Sheehan believes that there is potential to link up with health institutions such as the NHS because people are aware and concerned "more and more about their health."
But there is also a danger that this exciting technology will quickly lose its novelty and become generic. CEO of M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment Steve Martin says that the key to success in this burgeoning industry is authenticity:
"If you focus too much on tech and then your shoes aren’t fitting as well or look outdated then that isn’t good. That’s the trap a lot of brands are falling into.”
Wearables Change the Game
Wearables are the future for fitness and sports industries. Andy Brattle from Beyond says:
"58% of UK adults do not take part in any sports, but 53% do play electronic games. If you don't have a plan to digitise your brand, you could be left behind."
Wearables and the data they generate benefit companies by giving them the ability to add value to their product, to help build loyalty and a strong brand community, and help decide which direction to grow the business.
Wearables benefit the consumer by giving them access to their own data, insight about that data and ways to improve their performance. They can also be used motivate users and make them more accountable and finally, in more and more cases, make fitness more fun.
Combining gaming strategies with fitness technology is a trend that is gaining traction in the industry, whether it's as simple as your Fitbit rewarding you with a badge or as complicated as finding out the next part of the story for the smart phone app Zombies Run! The growing literature on gaming reveals that it's all about finding ways to get 'players' motivated, feel satisfied stay involved. Paul Ringsell believes that "care must be taken because there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. What drives an individual is a very personal thing." Becca Caddy from Wearable.com describes the challenge facing sports and fitness brands today:
"The key is to define an audience and truly get to the core of what will make them want to wear their wearable, what will make them want to play their game and what will keep them interested enough to carry on playing further down the line."