The Internet of Things may be upon us, but Smart Clothing isn't on us at all. Yet.
I've talked a couple of times now about the importance of owning your brand category when it comes to marketing, and about how now is a great time to move on marketing your IoT brand category as well as marketing your industrial analytics offerings on all of the data that will be generated by the swelling numbers of connected IoT devices. There's a reason that I keep going back to this, and it's fundamental: Owning your category is the idealogical foundation upon which all other marketing is properly built.
Of course, if you don't own your brand's category, displacing the current leader will be hard. Naturally, the more competition there is for your category, the harder your job in owning it will be -- which is why you should instead first consider creating your own, new brand category, or failing that, at the very least find a category with as few competitors as possible.
All of which makes Smart Clothing a great set of brand categories to consider if your business operates in the Internet of Things (IoT) / M2M / analytics spaces -- and we'll spend the remainder of this post looking at the particulars that make this so.
According to a CCS Insight analysis discussed by Paul Lamkin in his tech column on Forbes.com, the wearable tech market is expected to be worth $34 billion in sales by 2020. That's an interesting figure, but in and of itself it's not terribly interesting when it comes to owning your product's category. What is exciting about it is this infographic, from the same discussion:
Note here that of the 429 millilion devices expected to ship by 2020, the vast majority comprises wristbands, watches and eyewear. Tokens, clip-ons, jewellery and "other" devices all together are forecasted to ship just 6 million -- which begins to make owning your smart clothing marketing category look a little more feasible if you can niche it down that way.
Another analysis, "The Relationship between Consumers, Wearable Technology and Fashion Brands" by Lightspeed GMI, provides further insights. The analysis is driven by data from the Asia-Pacific markets, but is in line with data from CCS Insight and other sources -- and probes current awareness of wearable devices, again broken out by type:
In line with CCS's forecast that the vast majority of devices that will ship over the coming few years are glasses, smartwatches and wristwear items is the currently low consumer awareness of wearable tech in the jewelry, footwear and E-textiles categories. As with other potential marketing categories for your brand, those with demonstrated low awareness in a market that's projected to curve sharply upwards in the coming years are great places to be looking at as you plan your current and near-future marketing strategies -- and the Smart Clothing categories within the wearable device segment are just those kinds of categories.
Some Challenges and Some Opportunities in Smart Clothes Marketing
In Smart Clothing Marketing Analysis, published by the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at U.C. Berkeley, the authors point out that there are some current barriers to Smart Clothing adoption, including issues of both data privacy and data analytics. As mentioned, I've written previously about some marketing opportunities in industrial analytics, and if you have an analytics offering that can make a dent in the data that smart clothing will generate you're likely sitting pretty if you can move with your marketing now.
Customer concerns related to the privacy of the Big Data generated may also be a problem that needs to be addressed before widespread adoption of Smart Clothing is a reality, and may in fact stall development of such clothing in fields like healthcare, where HIPPAA and other laws and regulations closely control how data is collected and shared. But the Berkeley authors do offer a couple of interesting use cases where privacy will be of somewhat lower concern: Athletic and military uses, both of which involve scenarios in which wearers of smart clothing may not have any actual choice as to its adoption. Such uses are already being developed, of course, and it's a fairly safe guess to say that they will be widespread before very long -- so if you have a smart clothing product that you can position in either of those two niches, now is the time to move on your marketing strategies.
With current low adoption but high projected growth, Smart clothing presents many opportunities to create and own your brand's marketing categories before any of your competitors can beat you to it -- which is a great place for your business to be. Think about your marketing strategies now to take advantage of these opportunities, before the categories fill up and competition for the billions of dollars to be had heats up.
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