The Apple Watch and the immediacy/intimacy paradigm

May 12, 2015 | By

The Apple Watch And The Immediacy/Intimacy Paradigm

My Apple Watch arrived at the end of last month and over the ensuing two weeks, I’ve been testing and tweaking it and identifying new ways that it impacts my every day life. The most notable part of wearing the Watch has been how proximate certain tasks and pieces of information have become: delicate, haptic alerts for messages and activity goals and quick glances at to-do lists and sports scores.

This is possible because so many brands already have apps for the Watch that complement their phone offerings by honing in on the most key features that you’d want at your fingertips on your wrist. For example, our CEO gave a presentation using the PowerPoint app for the Watch which only controls slide advancement and keeps track of time – the two things you’d most want and need to do on such a small screen.

Many other brands that are early riders of the Watch bandwagon include:

  • Multiple airlines, including JetBlue and American Airlines, to provide up-to-the-minute notifications about travel and your boarding pass;
  • Target, where a shopper can create a list by speaking to the Watch and get guidance once in store of where to find your items;
  • BMW and VW bring control of their tech-loaded vehicles to Apple Watch, helping owners find their cars in a parking lot or roll the windows up if they forgot to;
  • Chipotle lets you order food in advance while Starbucks synthesizes its already best-in-class mobile app experience-cum-loyalty program for the wrist.

The challenge of the Apple Watch (and all wearables coming down the pike) is that as the devices we use to consume content become more immediate – worn constantly on our persons – they by definition become more intimate. If I asked you to unlock your smartphone and go hand it to a coworker to browse, I’m quite sure you’d balk. A wearable is an even more personal device to reckon with as a brand because the stakes are higher for you to get the engagement – timing, context, content, need – exactly right.

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So how do you, as a marketer, include the Watch in your broader brand experience while ensuring that you treat the interactions that happen there as distinct from other devices and touchpoints? Three tips:

1. Fit the Watch into the broader consumer journey. The immediacy provided by an Apple Watch is a primary difference between the hand-held smartphone and the wrist-worn Watch (and, obviously, screen size). If you’ve already done a journey mapping exercise for your most digitally advanced consumers, go back through that to identify where there are “glanceable moments” for your brand – and don’t forget that they may not exist. Not every brand should have an app for the Watch at this point. Use this early stage as a testing ground for where you can be relevant at different points throughout the consumer’s life cycle – today and in the next twelve months.

2. Identify Watch-specific, consumer-focused utility to deliver. Once you’ve identified possible areas where a consumer might find value from a Watch interaction, you need to assess how your brand is positioned to deliver that utility. To be clear, you will need to be there in the near future, but you must identify now how to be contextually and personally relevant in this new capacity. Look at your other digital touchpoints and what your target consumers do at each of those points and then brainstorm possible adjacencies to your existing core digital footprint and interactions.

3. Get your data house in order to nail individualization. All the planning and designing in the world will be for naught if you don’t have the architecture and processes in place to ensure that data can be collected from and redistributed to each relevant touchpoint at the channel or device and time it’s needed. In order for brand interactions to be both intimate and immediate, it is paramount that they be data-driven. This should be true for all your marketing activities, but with something like an Apple Watch and its wearable brethren, the stakes are that much higher as a person’s patience with erroneous notifications or unhelpful functionality will be that much lower. The right data (unified and integrated) coupled with analytics and instant actioning off the data will make your investments in a Watch app a success. But don’t underestimate that task.

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