Welcome to the Age of the Quantified Self (self-tracking for personal improvement). Thanks to the convergence of sensors, social media, geek coolness, advances in medicine and affinity branding – not to mention the uniquely American addiction to self-improvement – we’re on the verge of a revolution in personal data. Anyone walking around CES this year would have seen device after device that straps a sensor or display to your body to track performance, health and our environment. More than 17 million wearable devices, including smart watches and fitness bands, are expected to be sold in 2014.
While the QS movement has been around a while, it’s now going mainstream fast.
Brands have an opportunity to strike gold as consumers interact with them, through wearables, in new and highly personal ways.
Here are five reasons brands should care:
1. QS drives consumer engagement and loyalty. And it’s not just in the personal wellbeing category. Chase Bank’s Jot puts Chase at the forefront of customers’ minds every time they submit an expense for their business. More importantly, it enables small business owners to better manage expenses.
2. QS enables highly targeted, predictive-behavior marketing. Nike+, the grandfather of wearables, creates reminders and suggestions for customers that anticipate their future needs. The Nike+ app sends runners offers based on their self-tracked data. Like, “hey your shoes are nearing 500 miles…”
3. QS can become a source of direct revenue. Look at Progressive and “Snapshot” – the little black box that tracks our driving habits. The benefit to consumers is that safe driving can equal a lower insurance premium. The benefit to Progressive may be in selling the data to generate revenue.
4. QS can improve employee wellness. Wearable devices that track various health measures can be at the heart of an employee wellness program. Aggregated employee data showing healthier employees can be an incentive for more affordable healthcare programs. Earlier this year Yahoo gave its 11,000 employees a Jawbone UP to encourage a 10,000 steps a day regimen.
5. QS can turn marketing from a promotional discipline into a service that makes a brand an essential element of people’s daily lives.
We’re using wearables to track almost everything under the sun – including the sun.
Here’s how some companies are incorporating them into their marketing.
June: Your own personal sun protection coach. Designed to look like a very chic bracelet, when paired with an iPhone it tells its wearer if they’re getting too much sun and then recommends what SPF to wear.
The Lark Pro Sleep Monitor Silent Alarm Clock and Personal Sleeping Coach: It collects body metric data on your sleeping patterns. After a week, the Personal Sleep Coach is able to deliver a customized sleep plan, empowering you to make informed decisions regarding how to improve your sleep habits. The app even allows you to share your info with your doctor.
The LUMOback: Roughly 60 percent of American adults experience back and neck pain related to poor posture when walking, standing or sitting at their computers. The LUMOback posture monitor is wearable technology to help you sit up straight before pain becomes an issue.
Under Armor Armour39: It’s literally a “Willpower” tracker. Worn around your chest it ranks your willpower on a scale of 0-10 and is based on heart rate, length of time spent working out, physical intensity of exercise, etc. According to Armour39, no person has yet reported scoring a perfect 10.
emWave2: A pocket-size Personal Stress Reliever which, through an earlobe attachment or thumb sensor, measures heart-rate variability and doubles as a biofeedback meditation assistant. Some call it a mood ring for the heart.
The Autographer: A wearable camera with built-in sensors and fancy algorithms that determine which decisive moments to snap.
HAPIfork: An electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. How long did it take you to eat your meal? The number of “fork servings” per minute. And the intervals between “fork servings.”