5 Ways The Apple Watch Changes Marketing

You can do almost anything from your wrist with the new Apple Watch. Will that change the way marketers promote their products and services?

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Apple Watch

The long awaited Apple Watch is finally here. Yes, it looks amazing. Yes, it is expensive. And, yes, it’s not really a necessity, but people will buy it anyway.

As wearables go mainstream, marketers will need to adjust their marketing tactics to account for the new ways consumers will engage with this shiny new technology.

Some of these new tactics will already work with today’s smartphones, but wearables will make the technology more ubiquitous and integrated into people’s lives.

As Apple says on its website:

[blockquote]Apple Watch represents a new chapter in the relationship people have with technology. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made, because it’s the first one designed to be worn.[/blockquote]

First, let’s run down some quick facts about the new smartwatch:

  1. It’s not called the iWatch, it’s called the Apple Watch.
  2. If you want the Apple Watch to work, you’ll need a fairly new iPhone (5, 5c, 5s, or 6); and that iPhone must be nearby.
  3. There are three versions of the watch. The basic version, which starts at $350, is simply called the Apple Watch. The Apple Sport comes in two sizes and is 30% lighter than the base model. Finally, we have the 18-karat gold version called the Apple Edition. Prices for the Apple Sport and Apple Edition are not yet available.
  4. All models have built-in sensors that measure things like heart rate, running distance, and overall heart health.
  5. NFC (Near Field Communication) allows for wireless payments via Apple Pay, Apple’s wireless payment system.
  6. The Apple Watch will be available early 2015.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the new devices, let’s talk about the five ways the new Apple Watch will change the way you market your product or service.

1. Apps

Procurement teams should get ready to review proposals from developers eager to build new Apple Watch apps. That means that in the next six months, marketers will need to figure out how to not only market their iPhone and Android apps, but how to get users to download their smartwatch apps as well.

Apple Watch Digital Crown

It will be tempting for developers to try and port existing phone apps to the watch, but they must be careful. Although the Apple Watch has new functionality (NFC, health sensors, etc.) it also has limitations (tiny screen, no camera and no keyboard).

The watch requires an iPhone to be nearby in order to work, so marketers should look to extend their mobile apps to the watch; the phone can be used for displaying video, typing or long-form reading while the watch app receives notifications, plays music and receives short, pre-selected input from the user.

In essence, your smartphone and smartwatch apps will be companion apps, and should be marketed as such. That means new TV ads, paid search ads, website call-outs, in-app cross-promotion and updates to any marketing material that promotes your current phone apps should now mention your smartwatch app as well.

2. Payments

Retailers that have not yet upgraded their payment systems to accept NFC payments will want to get ready for a surge of young customers eager ditch their credit cards in favor of arm-waving checkouts. Apple Watch, like the iPhone, has a Passbook application, where users can store payment information as well as loyalty cards, tickets, boarding passes and coupons. For Apple Pay to work with the watch, a user will likely have to have it paired with an NFC-enabled iPhone 6 or 6+, but the company hasn’t detailed the requirements and it won’t be available until early next year.


Marketers can take advantage of this by advertising, “Apple Pay Accepted Here”on their retail store windows. This will cascade into your TV advertising, as you’ll need to show both customers checking out with traditional credit cards as well as smartwatches.

3. Social Media

It’s no secret that Apple’s target consumers for the Apple Watch are also the biggest consumers of social media content on the planet. While it’s hard to believe that their social media consumption could increase, it’s safe to say that having Twitter and Facebook always present on your wrist will lead to even more socializing.

Apple Watch Social Notification

Savvy marketers can take advantage of this future trend by creating content tailored specifically for small screens. That means short, simple communications like status updates and pictures which are much easier to engage with than videos, articles and links to websites.

The idea behind social media marketing with smartwatches is to drive up likes, retweets and +1’s through short, easy-to-consume content. It’s not going to be easy for Apple Watch users to leave comments on things, so adjust your social media strategy accordingly.

4. Geofencing/iBeacons

Marketers who live on the cutting edge will be pleased to learn Apple Watch app developers have the ability to create invisible geofences that sense when an Apple Watch user is in close proximity. Imagine what that means for retailers and dining establishments who want to alert users walking by their store.

This functionality is already available for mobile phones, but the contact is much more intimate when an alert can use haptic feedback to virtually “tap” the user on the wrist to get his or her attention.

Perhaps your shopping experience could be enhanced by seeing which stores have the best deals, newest products or largest inventory as you walk through the mall. Or it’s lunchtime in the city, and you’re walking down the street with a friend trying to decide what to have for lunch. Suddenly your watch notifies you that the restaurant you’re walking by has a 10% off coupon that expires in 15 minutes. Customers will need to decide if this is a good thing, or a creepy thing.

Marketers will need to work with their app developers to set up geofencing in each store location. Then they’ll need a system to manage the notifications and coupons they offer to customers. It won’t be a small project, but it could signal the future of retail.

5. Healthy Lifestyles

Almost any company can get behind the social cause of healthy living. Even if you make fast food, you still want consumers to think you care about their health. Why not work this health angle into your marketing efforts?

Apple Watch Health

“Brand X wants you to be healthy, so we’re giving you a 10% discount off your next purchase if you’ve worked out today. Just show us your Apple Watch results, and the discount will be taken at the register.”

Walgreens is already doing something similar with its Balance Rewards loyalty program, in which members can earn loyalty points (Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices) by doing things like weighing themselves, exercising, taking and logging their blood pressure, or measuring and recording their blood glucose levels.

The program is integrated with certain wearables already, and Walgreens has said it plans to incorporate rewards for healthy eating choices in the future.

And how about focusing that internally to encourage employees to get up and exercise?

“At Company Y, we encourage our employees to live a healthy lifestyle. To aid them, we’ve given each employee an Apple Watch Sport; any employee that reaches the company health milestone each month for the entire year receives a free gym membership and a spa day on the company. Wouldn’t you like to work for Company Y as well?”

With something like this, we’d not only be marketing our company to existing employees, but we’d also be marketing it to the industry as a great place to work.

Employees will love the fact that their employer cares about their health, finance will love that the number of health care claims and sick days is reduced, HR will love the fact that they can brag about being innovative, and Apple will love you for buying 1,000 of their new watches.

What do you think? Does Apple have a winner on their hand (or wrist)? Will the Apple Watch change the way you market your product or services? Leave some feedback in the comments.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Daniel Cristo
Daniel Cristo is the director of SEO Innovation at Group M's Catalyst, a thought leader in the organic, paid and social space. Dan has been doing SEO since 2002. An avid programmer and entrepreneur, Dan co-founded Triberr, an Influencer Marketing platform

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