Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fashion Marketers: Wearable Tech is Changing Fashion Marketing...Are YOU Ready?

While the first generation of fashion tech was clunky in appearance, the next generation reflects wearable tech's transition from geek to chic. As a graduate student in Northwestern University's Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program, I have identified two articles that can help you learn more about the evolution of the wearable tech space and what it means for fashion marketers. 

As the overlap of fashion and tech increases, so too does the trend of wearable device makers promoting their latest devices with words like ‘elegant’ and ‘refined’, as Andrea Chang points out in her LA Times article, “Wearable devices get more stylish as fashion and technology intersect.” Chang links the change to the debut of the Apple Watch. There are also significant revenue opportunities for tech brands looking to use fashion to make their products distinct from the competition. Chang also cites research firm IDC which predicts that the wearable market will surge from 19.2 million units shipped in 2014 to 111.9 million units shipped in 2018. Given these trends, it's clear that as consumers increasingly consider wearables as another means of self-expression, the market for these products will become sizable. This means IMC marketers will need to understand the challenges this introduces to their current marketing strategy and become even more committed to "consumers first."


Similarly in the Content Marketing Institute article, “4 Ways Wearable Tech Could Change Your Marketing Strategy,” Erin Rodat-Salva discusses how quickly the wearable market is developing, basing her strategies from the observations of Redg Snodgrass, co-founder of technology accelerator  Wearable World and Erick Schonfeld, executive producer of DEMO. In addition, Rodat-Salva suggests four ways that marketers can adapt their strategy to the wearable tech market: make messages glanceable, tap into location and emotion, integrated experiences and convenience, and interpret more data. From this article, we can learn that IMC marketing strategies will become increasingly crucial. Wearables will make consumer insights and information about customers even more accessible and as marketers we need to learn to use the right data to tailor the customer product experience. 

After reviewing these articles and based on my experience in the graduate program at Northwestern Medill IMC, here are three easy action items fashion marketers should consider when creating a wearable tech marketing strategy:

  • Elevate aesthetics – Consumer preferences must come before tech because they are becoming a means of self-expression - not just a set of functions
  • Understand emotion and location  – Consider the experience of the user to understand the best context and timing for your services. Technology embedded in wearables and smart clothing will potentially make it easier. 
  • Interpret All Experiments – Interpret your experiments to identify ways to solve problems and create convenience for your customers. Wearables add to the vast universe of big data, meaning you'll have even more information about your customer - use it wisely.
Adapting your marketing strategy for wearable technology is grounded in applying consumer insights to create messages that resonate with your target audiences. Whether you're a fashion marketer or simply interested in wearable technology's impact, begin incorporating these action items in your strategy today to build fashion tech for tomorrow. 

Britt Oliver is pursing her M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, focusing in content, digital marketing and strategy. She has previously worked in writing, content development, and public relations roles at tech-start-ups and cultural institutions in Chicago. She is passionate about translating consumer insights into compelling multi-channel stories and user experiences. After graduating in December 2015 she hopes to work in digital content strategy. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter

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