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