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Naughty or nice? CIM warns marketers to stay sharp this ‘Smart’ Christmas

20 | 12 | 2016

Health Devices, Smart Watches and Virtual Reality all have huge potential for marketers but could also pose problems.

Cookham, UK, 20 December 2016: The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is warning marketers to fully consider the ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ aspects of the multitude of smart devices that are set to be given as presents this Christmas.

This year’s Black Friday sales indicated that there will be a lot of smart devices making their way down chimneys this Christmas, promising new ways to connect with customers, opening up interesting fresh lines of communication and engagement.  

However, the CIM is warning that although new technologies offer exciting new prospects, putting them to use won’t be without its pitfalls. Three key technologies will step into the mainstream this Christmas: health apps and devices, smart watches and Virtual Reality (VR).

These have the potential to be both ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ for marketers, as the CIM explains:

1) Health apps and devices – fitness trackers are hitting the mainstream, with more brands competing to offer a way to track your exercise, diet and more.

Naughty: Brands need to be careful because health apps and devices grant them access to data of a personal nature. This is potentially incredibly sensitive and every step must be taken to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands and that data is secured appropriately. It seems not a day goes by without a data breach being reported in the press, and with research showing 57% of consumers do not trust organisations to use their data responsibly, marketers need to ensure they are handling data in a sensible, secure manner.

Nice: However, these can provide a great opportunity for brands, and their partners, to offer incentives or rewards, such as discounts, based on health targets being met. Some insurers are already using health trackers to encourage people to lower risk by exercising more in exchange for lower premiums and lifestyle rewards. There is also potential to personalise the customer experience using this type of data, for example using geo-location to target regional consumers.

2) Smart watches – research has shown that more than half of smart watch owners use them every day, so clearly there’s potential for a regular flow of data and interactivity points from them.

Naughty: Just like when we moved from desktop to mobile, marketers need to take the time to understand the best way to interact with customers through their watch – you cannot just take your mobile offering and think it will work on a smartwatch. Smart watches allow consumers to activate and control them with their voice, useful when the screen fits on your wrist. This is why it will be vital for brands to take a ‘watch-first’ approach to areas such as app development and watch-friendly marketing if they are to succeed.

Nice: Gone are the days when watches were just used merely for telling the time. Now they are starting to take on many functionalities of smart phones, making them increasingly practical for use on the go. Reaching smart watch users can provide a way to engage consumers outside of their phones, and offers a novel way to reach them.

3) Virtual reality – between cardboard offerings and Oculus’s full virtual reality platform, mid-range virtual reality sets are finally here, making them a realistic option for Christmas.

Naughty: Just because the technology is available, it doesn’t mean marketers should rush to implement it without fully considering how it can be used. VR is an expensive technology to use and so marketers need to establish how valuable it is for their brand and whether using it will add value to the bottom line. Essentially, is virtual reality an appropriate way to engage your customers, or are you just jumping on the bandwagon?

Nice: The immersive experience of VR offers a great opportunity for marketers to interact with their customers, allowing them to experience the brand in a unique way. For example, John Lewis has tied its Christmas advert to a VR experience in-store, allowing consumers to be part of the advert and building the relationship with the brand.

Maria Heckel, Marketing Director, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, commented: “It’s exciting to see technology continue to provide new opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers. If people are viewing data as ‘the new oil’, smart devices are wells they can use to pull it from the ground. However, just as drilling for oil carries great risk, these new data sources must also be treated with caution and handled in the right way to ensure accidents don’t happen.  It’s vital for marketers to ensure that they have fully considered the use of this tech, including the potential positives and negatives, before launching into a full roll-out.

“2016’s ‘Smart Christmas’ is a watershed moment, as wearable technology moves into the mass market, making its way into homes all around the world. But to ensure they aren’t left with a lump of coal in the stocking, marketers need to ensure they have weighed up the naughty and nice sides of these smart devices before stepping forward to reap the rewards. Marketers need to decide what the most appropriate and effective uses of these technologies are, or risk being left behind.”

About CIM:

  • CIM is the world’s leading professional marketing body, champion of customer engagement and best practice in the industry
  • CIM is an independent, international organisation that has been supporting, developing and representing the marketing profession for over 100 years.
  • CIM has 33,079 members (19,678 professionals and 13,401 students) and 5,357 Chartered Marketers worldwide
  • CIM has 163 study centres in 39 countries and exam centres in 79 countries
  • Find out more about how you can benefit from CIM’s diverse networks and unrivalled resources at www.cim.co.uk
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