Will 2015 be the year wearable technology brands enter the national health debate?

Will 2015 be the year wearable technology brands enter the national health debate?

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

FitbitThis year has been the year of wearable technology with Google Glass going on sale and health wristbands like Fitbit tipped to be one of this Christmas’ big sellers. And that's before we have the hype juggernaut that is the Apple Watch, expected to ship next year.

In the case of the Fitbit, the technology that’s been gathered is fascinating and a key motivator journey of self-improvement. But is it enough of a motivator for everyone? Do consumers get a bit bored after a while?

Some smart brands identified by trendswatching.com have not just relied on customers and data to stimulate a change in behaviour, they’ve added incentives and rewards that help them push through the inconvenience, cost or even the disinterest in continuing to use the devices.

Here are some examples:

Incentivising financially

A Russian bank launched an account where customers can link a fitness tracker to the service and be given a financial incentive for physical activity. For every step, money from their current account is transferred into a savings account which pays a higher interest rate than others.

Adding an additional feel good factor…or guilt factor?

Foodtweeks ?is not your usual calorie counting app. If a user says it followed the advice and reduced the number of calories consumed, then the company makes a donation to a local food bank which is equivalent to those number of calories.

This trend is in its infancy but is likely to grow as brands look to hold on to customers and not become that ‘flash in the pan’ device or service. Not only that, health issues linked to lack of physical activity or bad eating habits costs the tax payers billions – in the UK, obesity was named a bigger burden on the economy than war and terrorism. Brands looking to support improve healthy living standards will be positively received by customers and government alike.

What does this mean for marketers and comms professionals?

Health and technology is going to continue to be a huge topic of conversation. On one side, we’ve seen the government discussing how to tackle national health issues long-term and on the other, brands launch products and services to help improve people’s health. Next year, these two sides will come together and brands that incentivise long-term health commitment will be part of the bigger health discussion.

No doubt this will all play out in the media and the social media arena. Companies that either have health offerings themselves or encourages their staff to exploit the technologies available are sure to benefit.

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