Could ’embeddables’ in wearable tech give brands a clearer view of consumers?

Discussion
Source: www.underarmour.com
Jun 12, 2017
Matthew Stern

Under Armour attributes its success thus far to creating products that deliver “performance, innovation and advantages” to their customers — all of whom they refer to as “athletes.” At the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, George Hanson, vice president of North America e-commerce and brand house stores, explained how they have been achieving this goal.

“Through digital, through mobile, through innovative products including wearables and embeddables, Under Armour is changing the way athletes live,” Mr. Hanson said. “How they eat, how they sleep, how they gain intelligence about how to perform at their best.”

Mr. Hanson described a few of the next-gen technologies the company is now leveraging.

He noted that the day before the conference, Under Armour launched a new platform called UA Icon which gives users granular control over shoe design. Visitors to the website can customize the look of all different parts of their shoe and upload any image or photograph to be used in the shoe’s graphic design, which is accomplished through cutting-edge digital printing technology. UA Icon is a customer-facing adaptation of technology the company developed for its B2B side, which provides customized athletic gear for high schools and colleges.

Mr. Hanson described two types of embeddable technology Under Armour has recently implemented. The first was connected footwear — athletic shoes with a chip embedded to monitor key performance-related metrics and transmit them to the MapMyRun app. The second was TB12 Sleepwear, a product that uses embedded “far-infrared bio-ceramic” technology which purports to help wearers recover better from exercise while they are sleeping. The technology is endorsed by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.

“We see the future of wearables really moving more towards embeddables,” Mr. Hanson said.

Between the new embeddables and other technologies, according to Mr. Hanson, Under Armour collects robust data to inform both how they build out products and how they contact customers.

“We are building a single view of the consumer that not only includes what you would expect —transactional information, browser information, store visit information, customer contact interactions — but also biometric data, workout data, food data, location data, where they work out, how long they work out,” Mr. Hanson said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that Under Armour can gain a clearer, more singular view of the consumer through the use of wearables and embedded tech? Do you think advanced customization, embeddable technology and biometric data-based personalization represent the future of athletic brands? How likely is the use of these technologies to move beyond athletic wear?

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"I see it being as much of a marketing tool as a source of useful data for Under Armour."
"First of all, let’s all agree that embedded tech in practically everything imaginable is going to happen as the IoT sweeps the consumer consciousness."
"There is a massive arms race going on in the athletic shoe and apparel industry. UA, Nike and Adidas are all investing heavily..."

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9 Comments on "Could ’embeddables’ in wearable tech give brands a clearer view of consumers?"


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Lesley Everett
Guest

If the customer feels a level of personalization in a product (particularly one that is important to them and their lifestyle) and a connection to a brand as result, it can only be a good thing for Under Armour’s brand loyalty. This will come at a cost of course, so the price point needs to be one that is not out of kilter with the perceived benefits and is attractive to the target consumer. I do see it being as much of a marketing tool as a source of useful data for Under Armour.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

How can more consumer data (assuming they have the tools to manage and make it actionable) be anything but a good thing for a retailer? Beyond that, how could more customer data (not just consumers but actual purchasers of their products) be anything but good for a retailer? Product, marketing and merchandising decision makers can all benefit from the rich data collected from actual customers and, as long as customers don’t object, this seems like a brilliant strategy.

Sky Rota
BrainTrust
2 years 1 month ago

Yes, they will get an inside view of us if they embed something in our sports attire. If UA gets away with it others like Nike, etc., will follow. Do I like the idea of something being embedded in my sneaker? Sure it’s easier than wearing something around my wrist but I think some of the things they want track are way too personal. However they will probably come with settings to turn on what ever you want to track.

I see them trying to embed the tech into handbags, wallets, phone cases and a list of other places.

School’s out in Tuscany!

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

First of all, let’s all agree that embedded tech in practically everything imaginable is going to happen as the IoT sweeps the consumer consciousness. But the real question is going to be, what changes people’s habits — their lives? Those are the uses of technology that will last.

But there’s a funny thing about human behavior — it’s hard to change. Exhibit A: the news piece this weekend about companies that reward (or disincent) employees based on their fitness behaviors. One example is issuing FitBits to all employees that report the total steps per day the employee takes to HR. Rewards (or penalties) are based on reaching certain goals. The internet is filled with “FitBit hacks” — creative ways to get your “steps” in while watching TV. My favorite was wrapping the device in socks and then throwing it in the dryer. Thirty minutes with no heat gets you 10,000 steps. Brilliant! And oh so human.

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

Embeddables make sense for athletic brands. The more they know about their customers and how they’re using the products the better they can position themselves as being useful to customers. This also helps to establish brand loyalty in a way that your traditional card can’t. It could also open up some interesting sales routes — for example trainers that notify users when they are nearing replacement. I’m sure there will be scope for other brands to also explore embeddables, but this will come hand-in-hand with the progression of wearables and the IoT.

Cristian Grossmann
Guest
Cristian Grossmann
CEO, Beekeeper
2 years 1 month ago

Wearables and embedded tech have already gained so much traction over the last decade that it won’t take much buy-in from customers. They already know the value of tracking their personal habits like exercise, sleep, etc. and adding tech to sneakers is even more convenient than remembering to strap something to your wrist. More consumer data is always helpful in developing products that deliver a more personalized experience, which is what customers are looking for. These technologies have limitless use cases beyond athletic wear — hats, sunglasses, purses, backpacks, anything people regularly use.

Martin Mehalchin
BrainTrust

There is a massive arms race going on in the athletic shoe and apparel industry. UA, Nike and Adidas are all investing heavily in the types of initiatives described in the article. In the short run it’s not great for these companies profit margins, but the resulting innovation should be great for athletic consumers in the long run.

Jeff Hall
BrainTrust

I view Under Armour as being at the forefront of wearables and embedded technology. The beauty of embedded tech is for the athlete/customer/consumer — it hits the sweet spot of being non-intrusive. If I can go for a run, work out and even sleep in apparel that monitors and tracks my activity, without me even having to think about it, then it is easy to adopt into an active lifestyle.

The more UA moves the customer from wearables to embedded tech, continuing to reduce customer effort, the greater the win for everyone.

Julie Bernard
Guest

Under Armour is wise to link data-gathering technology to the concept of providing its customers with relevant experiences and the potential of personal gains. Consumers tell marketers that they’re amenable to granting data permissions if the benefits and engagements they receive are deeply connected to what they want in the moment — and, furthermore, if they lead to next-step inspirations. And so, Under Armour stands to leverage embeddables with success — they already understand to a certain extent what their loyal customers want out of athletic-wear brand experiences, so the paths to increasingly meaningful moments do exist. The key to the embeddable equation will be that Under Armour — and any brand that wades into these waters — continually channels the mobile data it gathers into feedback loops of positive and contextually-focused returns for the wearer.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I see it being as much of a marketing tool as a source of useful data for Under Armour."
"First of all, let’s all agree that embedded tech in practically everything imaginable is going to happen as the IoT sweeps the consumer consciousness."
"There is a massive arms race going on in the athletic shoe and apparel industry. UA, Nike and Adidas are all investing heavily..."

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