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Wearables & The Quantified Self Movement

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Wearables & The Quantified Self Movement

By   Tom Edwards, SVP of Digital Strategy & Innovation

I was recently asked by   ADWEEK about opportunities for brand s and  fitness wearables.  The discussion focused on utility and  the future of the quantified self movement and  whether hardware or software is the way to go.  The final portion of the conversation was focused on fashion vs. function and  the importance of aesthetics for mass adoption.  Below is my full commentary.

Brand s and  Utility

For the right brand  there is a significant opportunity to capitalize on the quantified self movement and  create new streams of revenue.  Market analysts project significant upside for wearable tech over the next few years.


SOURCE Business Insider

The value for brand s comes in the form of ongoing engagement and  value to the consumer.  By providing active utility, the brand  is taking something that used to provide a passive function and  unlocks behavioral patterns of the consumer, activity and  in some cases emotional data and  any positive results that can be equated with the brand .

  que-son-wearables-and roid-wear-esta-aqui-L-sDN62C

The other point to consider is the quantified self data and  utility will ultimately be a part of a larger connected ecosystem.  In the near future, data from a fitness tracker can coincide with smart grid technology to predict your needs.  For example, you just returned from a long run, your tracker communicates with your smart fridge and  it prepares to dispense your favorite after-workout beverage while ordering more via a real-time delivery service such as Amazon Fresh.


Hardware vs. Software

Brand s like Nike were at the forefront of the quantified self movement.  The Fuel band  resonated with innovators and  early consumer adopters.  With success came competition from device manufacturers that had a longer heritage and  provided additional utility.  They expand ed beyond fitness to include emotional measurement, sleep sensors, etc…which began to move away from the Nike value proposition.  The learning from this was that the real value was less in the hardware and  more in the data collected and  the visualization of results.


The industry shift that brand s like Nike see on the horizon is the shift from hardware and  more around software and  data.  What this means is that brand s like Nike see the day coming soon where it is less about the hardware and  more about sharing and  visualizing the data that is collected through whatever the device, be it smart clothing, watches, glasses, etc…and  making their API’s available.

Photo Jul 17, 12 05 49 PM

Fashion vs. Function

One of the primary barriers associated with wearables has been tied closely to aesthetics.  A rubber bracelet that glows is not always the ideal choice for the fashion conscious.  And for the early and  late majority of consumer adopters, going beyond simple utility will be important for mass adoption.


Recent studies have shown that women outnumber men among prospective buyers of wearable technology devices.  What I see happening in the short term are a number of partnerships such as the announced Tory Burch and  Fitbit partnership or cross-industry hiring, similar to Apple hiring Burberry’s former CEO to bridge the gap between aesthetic form and  function.

Tory Burch & Fitbit Partnership
Fitbit & Tory Burch

Follow Tom Edwards   @BlackFin360