As wearable technology continues to evolve, several investigations and studies are emerging to try and figure out just how much of an impact these innovative devices will have on our lives. At present there is uncertainty surrounding the subject of wearables and consumer privacy and how personal data collected from the devices will be used.

In this article we identify the role that digital marketers working within businesses that are involved in wearable tech must play in educating consumers to the applications of the technology. And the responsibility these marketers have to use any data collected in a cautious and considered way.

According to a recent report by Mintel, already over one in five UK adults use a wearable device or have adopted a health-related mobile app into their daily routine.

At present the most popular wearable devices have been for either a sports or healthcare purpose and range from heart rate monitors for measuring performance during sports to blood glucose meters for diabetes sufferers.

For marketers working within companies considering taking the plunge into wearable tech development, one of the major pulls of the new software is its potential for collecting more in-depth data about customers than ever before. The data gathered will give deep insight into consumer behaviours and desires which in turn can be used to place targeted ads based on individual’s specific likes and dislikes.

Businesses contemplating whether wearable tech is right for them should consider the fact that wearables allows much deeper insights into the consumer’s mind. Those who have already invested in wearables will know that it provides digital marketers with the data needed to not only track user movements, but actually begin to build a picture of the motives behind these movements. This data gathered can be used to place highly targeted ads based on an individual’s specific likes and dislikes.

Wearables such as the Apple Watch and fitness trackers in particular hold a huge amount of potential for digital marketers as they provide a great platform for target marketing.

With these new in-depth insights, digital marketers have much more information to engage with customers and create ads that are much more focused and customer-centric.

Barriers to consumer uptake: privacy concerns

As with any new technology, businesses considering whether wearable technology is a wise investment should consider the potential barriers to widespread adoption.

The most significant barrier to adoption that businesses must consider carefully is related to consumer privacy concerns. Apadmi recently conducted a study about what consumers think about wearable technology and found that 42 per cent of people in the UK at present believe that wearable tech devices present a significant risk to their privacy.

Consumers are already wary about how much information is available to businesses through the internet and smartphones and so it is likely that they might be initially distrustful of wearables and the large amounts of data about the user that the technology can generate.

To overcome the privacy barrier, digital marketers must do more to communicate and educate consumers on precisely where their data is being used and try to reassure them that it will be collected and used responsibly.

At present there is lots of discussion about the potential risks that wearables present, but not enough focus on how the technology might actually be of benefit to users. Marketers need to show that wearable technology is relevant far beyond Silicon Valley and Tech City and can have real benefits to people’s lives. For example it can help to locate missing dementia sufferers, it can transform customer service in shops and it can help us speed up accident and emergency response rates.

However, in order to open consumers eyes to the substantial benefits wearable technology has to people’s lives, marketers first must attempt to combat the privacy barrier. In order for consumers to begin to see these benefits, digital marketers must first do more to communicate and educate consumers on precisely where their data is being used and try to reassure them that it will be collected in a respectful way that doesn’t interfere with the user’s privacy.

Staying true to your word

Wearables hold the potential for much more targeted ads and marketing activity, however it is important that digital marketers working within businesses developing wearable tech or apps for these devices are cautious not to over target, as there is a fine line between using data in a constructive way and abusing consumer trust. In order to build brand transparency and customer trust, marketers must stay true to their word and only use customer data strictly for the reasons given.

In order to move forward and increase the uptake of wearable technology, digital marketers must work hard to educate users to ensure they are well informed about what data is being collected about them and where it is being used as well as highlighting the potential that the devices hold. As well as educating consumers, digital marketers must also ensure they are responsible when handling user data and ensure targeted ads do not cross a line when it comes to consumer privacy.


By Nick Black, co-founder and director at Apadmi

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