Fitness tracking and faster payments are considered by consumers to be the most important uses for wearable technology according to new research from WPP media agency Mindshare and Goldsmiths, University of London.
The SHIFT 2015 research project aimed to understand the key consumer motivations for wearable technologies and the opportunities they present for brands and advertisers.
Using a combination of consumer device testing, workshops, expert interviews and a survey, the research addressed consumer needs, how wearable technology can fulfil them and what opportunities this provides for brand communication.
‘Flow’, making everyday life smoother or easier, was the most popular need identified with 36% of UK smartphone users finding this of interest. More specifically, almost a third of respondents (31%) were interested in the use of wearables to order goods in advance to save queuing, 38% were interested in wearables changing heating or lighting preferences upon entering a room and 29% want to use wearables to open car doors, underlining the potential of the devices to make life easier for today’s busy consumer.
‘Reflection’ the use of wearables data to identify ways you can improve your life physically or emotionally, was the second most popular need identified with 35% of UK smartphone users finding this of interest.
Fitness trackers have improved the lives of 76% of current users according to the research, with 50% of smartphone users interested in the prospect of wearables measuring and analysing sleep patterns.
The report also identified five key opportunity areas for advertisers (see below). The research also found that 13% of UK smartphone users say they are very likely to get at least one wearable device in the next 12 months, meaning 8million adults or 16% of the population will use them by 2016.
Mindshare UK Research Director Jeremy Pounder said: “The marketing world was slow to appreciate the significance of the shift from desktop to mobile. We don’t want to make the same mistake with the rise of wearables and the internet of things.
“As wearables start to connect individuals physically to the web, our research shows there will be huge communications opportunities for brands in terms of new, more personalised advertising models, brand utility and brand experiences fuelled by wearables. Now is the time for experimentation and we’re already applying these insights for our clients’ communications this summer.”
Dr Chris Brauer, of the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “The SHIFT 2015 research puts a lot of the hype and ambitions of wearable technologies to the test and it is clear that wearables can play a key role augmenting our humanity in a more natural and integrated way than the current generation of mobile technologies.
“There has been a lot of focus on the hardware and software companies developing new wearables but we wanted to look at the bigger picture and how marketing and consumer engagement with all brands is working or is going to work. Wearables have the potential to promote sweeping changes in how we engage and form relationships with brands.
“SHIFT is fundamentally about the historical and emerging shift from desktop to laptop to mobile to wearables,” said Dr Brauer. “It is about the emerging power of these small connected devices on the body but it is also about the shifting impact wearables have on a connected self and world forming and shaping both interpersonal and intrapersonal connectivity, for example, by correlating your moods and your productivity levels.”