- Forrester Councils
- Councils Overview
- log in
Posted by Sarah Rotman Epps on April 4, 2013
View this post as it appears on ReadWrite.com.
When I talk to marketing executives about the Smart Body, Smart World paradigm — how sensor-laden devices like wearables give us access to new domains of information and what we can do with that information — they always bring up the movie Minority Report.
The 2002 sci-fi crime thriller has become the reference point people imagine when they think about the future of advertising: specifically, the scene in which Jon Anderton (Tom Cruise) walks through the mall and billboards show him ads based on his mental state (stressed out) and context (on a journey).
This depiction of the future makes sense if you take the status quo of advertising in 2002 — delivering messages via screens to acquire new customers and persuade them to try your product — and bolt on new technology like biometric scanning. There are multiple examples of marketers today doing simplified versions of this, using billboards that adapt content based on gender and age.
A Dumb Vision Of The Smart Future
But this is a pretty dumb vision of the “smart” future. Smarter marketing goes far beyond advertising.
The Smart Body, Smart World paradigm requires a different approach to marketing, an approach focused on delivering services and utility rather than just advertising. Sensor devices collect data that’s intimate by nature, in contexts where marketers have never before had access. That intimacy lends itself to trust-based interactions, where trust is earned with utility.
The Nest home thermostat, for example, uses motion sensors and machine-learning algorithms to predict your schedule — but users don’t think it’s creepy because it saves them 20% on their heating and cooling bill. The Jawbone UP knows your daily commute and how well you slept — but its usefulness is quantifiable, helping wearers move, on average, 26% more per day.
Many sensor-laden devices don’t have displays; even the ones that do, like Google Glass, are better suited for “engagement marketing” or “relationship marketing” rather than advertising. For example, Glass might be an appropriate platform for a bank to show a user’s “safe to spend” balance — as financial services company Simple does on its mobile app — while the customer is out shopping. But that approach wouldn’t be well suited to cross-selling a mortgage.
Sensors Change Everything
The Smart Body, Smart World paradigm accelerates transformations that are already occurring in marketing. In particular, sensor devices require marketers to:
These shifts will transform marketing in a far deeper way than the superficial Minority Report vision. Imagine a future in which marketers influence products, pricing and branding based on deep insights of how people actually use their product. A future in which marketers anticipate customer needs before they’re expressed — while staying on the right side of the line separating useful from creepy.
A future in which marketers actually help customers change their own behavior to the benefit of the customer, not just the marketer. Marketers have this future within their grasp if they can recognize that the mall in Minority Report is not what we should be building.
I’ll be speaking more about how marketers make these transformations at Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders on April 18 and 19 in Los Angeles. Join us if you can!