Dear Marketer, Have you Thought Well About Your New Smartwatch Campaign?

Smartwatches are here for the long term. Find out what opportunities they bring and how to use them in your marketing

Adebisi Adewusi
December 08 2018

The Simpson’s is one show that has accurately predicted the future on many occasions. In 1995, Season 6 episode 19, introduced the idea of a watch you could use as a phone. Fast forward to 2018, and smartwatches are no longer the stuff of dreams.

As of June 2017, nearly 9% of U.S. consumers aged 18+ owned a smartwatch, up almost 1.5 percentage points from the previous six months, with nearly 60% projected growth from Q2 2017- Q4 2018.

Similarly, the International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker forecasts that smartwatches will account for 51% share of all wearable tech devices sold in 2022. Although smartwatches have yet to gain widespread popularity, the accessories are a bright addition to the marketing space. In this article, we’ll show you how you can use the technology as a medium for marketing.


Market research firm, NPD, states that 54% of consumers use smart watches to receive notifications and text messages.


Nearly half of shoppers believe wearables will improve their experience through personalized offers, which for businesses owners, also increases the probability of an in-store sale.

To seize the opportunity, retailers are developing smartwatch apps that deliver targeted notifications such as sales offers, and coupons, to consumers.  For instance, with JC Penney’s Apple Watch app, users can spot the four closest JCPenney stores and once inside the store, receive directions to the desired product.

Similarly, to help consumers keep tabs on their shopping, Ebay’s smartwatch app allows consumers to bid on items via their watches, notifies users of counter bids, and whether they won or sold an item.

 And if you’re wondering whether consumers appreciate smartwatch notifications, statistics from Kentico state that 10% of customers are okay with receiving location-based ads or messages when nearby the store.

Note, however, that unlike mobile apps, smartwatch notifications are physically felt through vibrations on the wrist, so your messages must warrant urgent delivery. When consumers receive instantaneous messaging, there’s a fine line between welcome alert and disturbance. 

Collaborative Marketing

While sports and fitness trackers helped kick‐start the wearable technology trend, consumers are now tracking their fitness with smartwatches. According to NPD, in the fourth quarter of 2017, 38% of U.S. adults with fitness tracking wearables were using smartwatches. The company also projected that smartwatch ownership will reach 48% by 2019.

Following the change in consumer behavior, fitness wearable brands, like Fitbit, are jumping into the smartwatch business with the release of the Ionic and Versa. Marketers are also taking advantage of using smartwatches for fitness by collaborating with other brands.

To drive customer loyalty, Walgreens partnered with Fitbit to integrate data from customers into its own app. The Walgreens smartwatch app is integrated with the company’s Balance Rewards program so when customers connect the Walgreens app to their Fitbit, they automatically receive 250 bonus points, 20 discount points for every mile they walk or run and 20 points for recording a daily weigh-in.

Similarly, The Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) app allows ScoreCard members to earn extra ScoreCard points by connecting their Fitbit to DSG’s Move feature inside their app and meeting the daily goal of 10,000 steps. These points incentivize members to achieve their activity goals and earn rewards to purchase new gear.

If you’re considering collaborating with other brands, make sure you work with a company that shares your values and target audiences.

How About Ads?

Kentico surveyed 1,000 18+ Internet users from around the world and found that consumers are open to the idea of businesses using their smartwatches to reach them. Specifically, 67% are open to receiving at least some advertising or marketing messages on their smartwatches. 23% prefer limiting messages to a list of pre-approved advertisers.

Brands will spend almost $70 million on smartwatch ads by 2019. Though with every new platform, advertising on a smartwatch screen might require some innovative thinking, because unlike television, computer and mobile screens, smartwatches have limited displays.

With most smartwatch screens ranging between 38mm and 44mm wide, it’s difficult to design relevant content while simultaneously showing an immediate call to action.

Additionally, catching consumer attention on a smartwatch is challenging. Forrester states that the engagement sweet spot for wearables is about three seconds, which means advertisements have limited time to engage consumers, and must be concise, relevant and immediately actionable.

While smartwatch advertising is still evolving, brands that will win with smartwatch advertisements are those that create experiences native to smartwatches.  When in doubt, less is more.

Should You Ignore Smartwatches?

Marketing on smartwatches is still in its infancy, but these wearable devices hold a lot of promise, so, don’t ignore smartwatches. Here’s what you should do instead:

  • Examine trends in wearable technology and the Internet of Things against the backdrop of consumer expectations and industry shifts
  • Develop some hypotheses about user expectations. This will help you establish a vision for adopting smartwatches for your business—from which you can then outline a roadmap to adoption and implementation.
  • Gain insights into the impact of smartwatches on the end user experience by investing in pilot programs and proof of concepts to test specific use-cases for the customer.
  • Find out which smartwatch your target market uses and how that impacts their buying behaviour and content consumption.

If you think marketing via smartwatches may not be right for your brand at the moment, keep an eye on how it evolves. There’s limited advertising space, but plenty of opportunities.

Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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