The Opportunity of Wearable Tech for Retail Marketers

Don’t let the pessimistic headlines about the Apple Watch fool you – wearable tech is here to stay. Whether it’s augmented reality, fitness trackers, or a more efficient way to access all of your favorite apps, technology has finally gotten to the point where sleek and functional technology can become part of your outfit, instead of a device you carry around. In addition to making technology that’s much more convenient for customers, the onset of wearables opens the door to a whole new world of marketing possibilities for retailers and a whole new level of useful personalization for customers.


The most popular use of wearables today is fitness. The technology can track and record your workouts, heart rate, sleep, and other health data. It can then present it to you in a way that can lead to self-improvement. This data can also be used by marketers to deliver ads for certain health or fitness products that would be the most useful for customers.

Say a user who likes to run every other day starts using an app synced to their wearable device that they’ve given permission to analyze their data. Brands can use this information to infer that, after a certain number of months, the user will be in need of a new pair of running sneakers. They then can deliver the customer ads not just for new sneakers, but new sneakers in the customer’s size that are the model designed for their specific workout routine. Or perhaps the data shows that despite constant running, a customer has slowed their pace over a few days. Brands can send ads for orthopedic inserts and articles with advice for mild running injuries such as tendonitis. Not only will a customer see ads that are more relevant to them, but they will see content that is contributing to the improvement of their running experience.

Location-Based Targeting

Fitness data isn’t the only opportunity wearable technology offers to retailers. It’s also a boon for location-specific targeting as well. Methods such as geo-fencing and geo-targeting are not new concepts, but with wearables, they can be applied in much more effective ways. For example, a customer might take a morning walk past an organic food store every day. That store could then begin sending the customer ads for certain products, such as organic coffee or breakfast items, since they are walking by in the morning.

While this sort of location-based marketing can be used with mobile devices, wearables provide a much more intimate experience. If crafted with the right creative content, the ads become recommendations rather than product pitches. Plus, with the added power of real-time intent data, customers get recommendations and deals that are more personalized to their responses. A customer doesn’t slow down in front of the coffee shop, but is a fan of 5-hour Energy on Facebook – chances are they’d appreciate an ad for the local supplement store more than one for Starbucks.

Taking location-based marketing a step further, with mobile payment systems like Apple Pay linked to devices being more likely to catch a user’s attention quickly, marketers can see what a customer is purchasing and compare it to stores nearby that sell complementary products. Also, they can send the customer relevant ads for those products. To go back to the morning walker example, after deciding to buy some organic coffee using Apple Pay, marketers might notice that there’s also a florist nearby and send the customer a coupon for a bouquet.

Cross-Device Targeting

Cross-device targeting is both a critical tool for marketers and a great way to help customers on their path-to-purchase. Wearables provide another platform to glean useful information to determine more accurate intent, and on which to receive more helpful ads. By utilizing data from their mobile browsing history and the location beacons from their wearables, marketers gain the ability to send coupons for a product as a customer walks by it in a store.

It can also be used to help customers with their shopping experience. Say a person researches prices for certain products at home on their desktop or tablet. When they go to a store, their wearable device can pull up that data and show the customer a list of the prices of different brands. It could even show them the prices of the same brands at different retailers. Not only will this generate more interest in those products, but it will also provide the customer with a much better shopping experience and make going to the store more fun. If they appreciate it enough, it might inspire them to become an active brand advocate – a relationship that is invaluable for retailers and brands.

The growing popularity of wearables correlates to a growing opportunity for marketers, retailers, and customers. Along with the plethora of data that customers could share for a more personalized ad experience, retailers can use the platform to help build and maintain a stronger relationship with their customers. This relationship can help ensure that the customers are getting the best experience possible, and that retailers and brands have the tools needed to continue providing that experience.

Homepage image via Shutterstock. 

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