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Wearable Technology at SXSWi: Every Brand's New Best Friend?

Wearable Technology

With predictions that 10 million wearable technology devices will be sold in 2014, it is no surprise it is one of the most popular topics at SXSW this year.  The first wearable tech session I attended started off centered around fan engagement. Sloane Kelley, Executive Producer of PGA Tour’s Digital, noted that they continue to give their pros early access to newest wearable tech for content creation. This type of content – from first-person videos of their practices to stats around their activity, gives fans personal insight, otherwise unavailable, to their idols. Shiv Singh, SVP of Brand & Marketing Transformation for Visa noted this same usage trends for his brand. During Sochi 2014, Visa used wearable technology to give fans a front row seat to its athletes, through gro-pro cams and Google glass. Yes, all this content is exciting for fans, and completed marketable, but is it that innovative? The quality might be better and the look sleeker, but haven’t we had this first-person view before? The question that came next was…where will wearable tech bring us next in fan engagement?

The panelists from Coca Cola (Bachir Zeroual, Director of Marketing Ventures) and Visa immediately pounced on the idea of wearable tech bringing us faster and more efficient points of sale. Basically, the notion of wearable tech like Google glass creating the opportunity for fans to see a product and with two or three quick gestures, buy it without breaking stride. Next came up the idea of your activity tracker building purchases for you. What if when you went to a 5 mile run your wearable tech automatically told a service to drop off a Gatorade and post-run snack at your door? What if your activity tracker could sense what you foods you needed to accomplish your weight-loss goals and order it for you? Too creepy? Or useful?

These is where these reps from Coca Cola, Visa and PGA Tours see their relationships between fans and wearable technology going next. They want to move on from just provided engagement to creating opportunities for direct ROI and increased sales. Juniper Research has predicted that worldwide spending on wearable technology will hit $1.4 billion in 2014 and $19 billion by 2018.  This type of jump is similar to Smartphones’ when they were first introduced – for two reasons, both of which, create opportunities for brands. Consumers are beginning to see the benefits of wearable technology and will start purchasing and that there are so many models coming out that avid fans will want the latest and greatest.  With this type of increase spending, we should expect to see wearable technology campaigns filling the days of 2014 in no time. What will be interesting is to see how brands jump passed the tired, old fan engagement that has erupted from wearable technology into a innovative and sale-oriented tactics.

Photo Credit: Wearable Tech/shutterstock

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