You might be on the fence about your wearable device, but how do you feel about that new toy your child is now playing with?
American youth love gadgets – and now, that includes wearables. While some technologies have a bigger impact on parents (like those intended to keep track of youngsters’ whereabouts), other wearables are helping kids accomplish the same results that adults seek from their own wearable devices: a healthier lifestyle, instant education, and pure entertainment.
Among early technophiles, the products are catching on: Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that 14% of US online youth (ages 12 to 17) currently use a wearable device – the most popular being a Fitbit, followed by the Apple Watch (in the US, nearly half of young mobile users own an Apple iPhone). And, as with many toys or fashions among adolescents, wearable preferences differ significantly by gender:
In the past two years, there has been a boom in wearable device adoption — but growth will slow. Instead of the anticipated adoption explosion that many tech enthusiasts dreamed of, Forrester predicts that US consumer wearables spending will roughly double in the next five years. The main reasons for consolidation are that:
Fitness activity tracker bands will be cannibalized. Fitness tracker bands currently dominate the market but will diminish in utility over time. They currently face a high abandonment rate because repeated measurement information becomes less useful unless the data they output is more prescriptive, rather than descriptive.
Smartwatches will largely drive the future of wearables spending. More sophisticated wearable technologies, such as smartwatches with fitness tracking features, will partially cannibalize standalone tracker bands as the price gap between these devices narrows. As vendors begin to pair devices with more tactical applications, smartwatches will drive further wearable adoption.
In 2015, consumers of all ages are extremely connected — the average US online adult uses more than four connected devices, and 70% use a smartphone. Marketers today want to know who the early adopters are, how far behind the laggards are, and what types of technologies they need to incorporate into their marketing and customer interaction mix.
Because of sharp differences in technology adoption by age, we analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. So what did we find this year? Not surprisingly, younger generations lead in technology uptake, with Gen Yers leading the way — showing the highest uptake of Internet-connected TVs, smartphones, and tablets. Older generations lag behind, but even members of the Golden Generation use more than three connected devices, on average.
I spent the last couple of months interviewing marketers and vendors to understand how brands integrate push notifications and in-app messages in their marketing strategy.
Even though my research was primarily focused on mobile apps, I was convinced that there was much more at play. In fact, brands that can harness the power of contextual data to consistently deliver customer value will deliver compelling brand experiences that will build brand preference and, ultimately, loyalty.
Even with the emergence of connected objects that send notifications, smartphones will remain the primary interface in which consumers will personalize their digital experiences. Smartphones will become the hub for most interactions between a brand and its customers. In the next five to 10 years, consumers will use smartphone apps to define and control the communication environment in which brands can interact with them. In particular, we see that:
Mobile will become the primary touchpoint for brands to engage consumers. Mobile traffic has already overtaken desktop traffic in five major countries: Nigeria, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Poland.No doubt this will happen across the globe in the next couple of years. B2C marketers will become smarter in engaging customers via mobile, maturing their approach and moving progressively to the holy grail of one-to-one marketing.
I interviewed companies from a variety of verticals – travel, retail, energy, clothing, financial services – and spoke to thought leaders in innovation theory to help I&O leaders solve a series of problems: How can we innovate using customer-facing interaction technologies such as mobile devices, robotics, digital signage, and virtual reality (VR)? How can we establish a device innovation lab (DIL) to help technology and business leaders at our company develop technology-infused, customer-obsessed strategies? And what are the success factors for DILs – from mission statement to staffing to key performance indicators?
In the context of my report, a device innovation lab is an a in-house space for designing, experimenting, piloting, and deploying device-based innovation projects. Done right, a DIL can differentiate your business's digital business efforts in impressive ways. Take, for example, Lowes' robotic retail associate, OSHBot.
AR and VR technologies aren't new. Virtual reality first experienced a boom of interest in the early 1990s, spurred by the 1991 book Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold. In 1995, Angelina Jolie starred in the movie Hackers, which introduced mass audiences to head-mounted VR display technology. But the early promise of the technology fell apart due to underperforming graphics, attention-jarring lag times, outlandish hardware requirements, and the lack of an application ecosystem. No VR market emerged (outside of niche categories like military usage) until Facebook acquired the Kickstarter startup Oculus for $2 billion in March, 2014.
You've probably heard about the Quantified Self (QS), a movement that aims to capture, analyze, and act upon data from the human body in the interest of better health, fitter athletes, and sharper minds. Today, QS is giving way to QW -- Quantified Workforce. A variety of technologies -- devices, software, services -- can quantify the health, fitness, mental acuity, timeliness, and collaboration of workers. Many of these services are ready for prime time, but present some challenges in implementing. These challenges aren't primarily technological; they're related to privacy, workers' rights, and human resources policies. Done right, though, quantifying the workforce can drive both top- and bottom- line growth in your company's business.
I've analyzed this trend in a new report, Smart Body, Smarter Workforce. Here are just a couple of examples of how quantifying the workforce can drive better business outcomes:
Lower the company's insurance rates. In January, 2014, Forrester predicted that insurance companies would offer lower rates to individuals who donned wearables -- and we are now seeing that response. In April, 2015, John Hancock announced an opportunity for buyers of its term and life insurance policies to earn up to 15% discount on their insurance rates by wearing a Fitbit, sharing the data with the company, and meeting certain activity levels.
Apple will sell more than ten million Apple Watches and dominate the smartwatch category in 2015. Despite the hype, this will only represent 1% of the 2 billion smartphones’ installed base. Should B2C marketers even care? Yes, because the Apple Watch is a good way to learn how to deliver extremely contextual experiences to a niche of early adopters and influencers. Because Apple Watch will boost sales for the entire wearable market, it is also a good opportunity to anticipate and innovate on connected objects.
However, smartwatches are a double-edged sword for marketers. On one hand, they offer unique opportunities to develop brand proximity and hyper-contextualized alerts for consumers in their micromoments. On the other hand, they risk damaging the brand by oversaturating customers with irrelevant messages and raising privacy concerns.
Most branded apps I had the opportunity to test did not deliver value. I even ended up deleting some iPhone apps that did not offer relevant messages. I think marketers should not even consider Apple Watch if they haven’t implemented a mobile messaging and push notification strategy. To differentiate among other apps, you must mature your push notification approach to deliver truly personalized experiences in the context of your overall customer relationship management.
For marketers having a more advanced mobile strategy, now is a good time to start working with app developers or their agencies to plan for native Apple Watch Apps by taking advantage of all the sensors on the device, and to build their own “complications”, mashups of data that would be pertinent for a given user at a given time.
Trust is the most critical component to develop and maintain a healthy brand. Customers are more likely to trust experts, friends and relatives than marketing campaigns. That’s why it matters to deliver the experience you promise and to build a trusted community around your brand.
As marketers will need to use more personal data to power mobile and contextual experiences, we expect consumer distrust for brands to increase
No matter how quickly wearables and connected objects emerge in the next 10 years, mobility has already introduced a paradigm shift: the ability to collect and use data about individuals in the physical world. Mobility will change the nature of the data marketers can use and act upon. Data collected via mobile will be much more sensitive, more personal and more contextual. Via sensors on wearables or smartphones, marketers will access data on our bodies and our whereabouts in real-time. This represents a huge opportunity for marketers to power better marketing across all channels not just mobile. Mobile and connected objects will not only change the nature of the data marketers can access, it will also bring privacy concerns to the physical space and it risks breaking anonymization.
Together with my colleague Fatemeh Khatibloo, co-author of the report, we digged into our Technographics data to better understand consumers’ perceptions on mobile privacy. We also conducted many interviews to discuss with marketers, vendors, and regulators how they approach mobile data and privacy. Here below are a couple of facts we learnt:
I remember the first time I attended 3GSM in Cannes: It was primarily a B2B telecoms trade show and centered on DVB-H, WiMAX, and other technology-centric acronyms. Fast-forward 11 years, and Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be the center of the business world for a couple of days (March 2 to 5). Some things don’t change: We will continue to hear too much about technology. Simply ignore the hype, especially around 5G; it will have no impact at all on your marketing strategy for the next five years!
However, the list of keynote speakers is a good indication of what MWC has become: a priority event for leaders willing to transform their businesses. The CEOs of Facebook, Renault-Nissan, SAP, MasterCard, and BBVA will be speaking, and more than 4,500 CEOs will be among the 85,000 attendees (only 25% of which are from operators). It is fascinating to see how mobile has changed the world in the past 10 years — not just in the way that we live and communicate but also in terms of disrupting every business. I strongly believe that mobile will have a bigger impact than the PC or Web revolutions. Why?
First, mobile is the fastest and most ubiquitous technology ever to spread globally. People in Asia and Africa are skipping the PC Internet and going direct to mobile phones; they’re the ultimate convergent device and often the only way to reach people in rural areas. As Andreessen Horowitz's Benedict Evans put it, mobile is “eating the world”. It has already cannibalized several markets, such as cameras, video recorders, and GPS, and is now disrupting entire industries, changing the game for payments, health, and education, especially in emerging countries. Second, mobile is the bridge to the physical world. It is not just another “subdigital” channel. This alone has a huge impact on business models. Last, mobile is a catalyst for business transformation.