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Report Reveals Wearable Tech Future Ripe for Growth

Twenty percent of American adults already own a wearable device and the adoption rate – on par with tablets in 2012 – is quickly expected to rise, according to PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series – The Wearable Future report – an extensive U.S. research project that surveyed 1,000 consumers, wearable technology influencers and business executives, as well as monitored social media chatter, to explore the technology’s impact on society and business.
And for wearables to be most valuable to the consumer, it needs to embrace Internet of Things opportunities; transform big data into super data that not only culls, but also interprets information to deliver insights; and take a human-centered design approach, creating a simplified user experience and an easier means to achieve goals. 
As social media becomes more fundamental to the way we receive information and interact with others, consumers want wearable technology to offer anytime/anywhere access to their favorite networks. This is especially true among millennials, who were three times as likely as the general population to list real-time social media updates as an important benefit of wearables.
Additionally, wearables open up more advertising inventory – blank canvases for highly targeted message placements, especially in the form of content with greater relevancy and context to the user. But wearable devices won’t just create more ad inventory and unleash more publishing subscription revenue – they’ll provide a meaningful opportunity to drive product sales and eCommerce. 
Wearable technology will soon become an integral part of many retail experiences. It is poised to create an enhanced customer experience – better, more informed service; faster checkout; greater access to deals; and more real-time input into purchasing decisions. Rather than shopping across multiple channels – at home, on-the-go or in-store – the new consumer experience will be omni-channel, fuelled by wearable devices and comprehensive analytics. Though, the biggest concern for consumers is potential breaches of privacy and security surrounding personal data, shopping habits, increased use of payment tokens (rather than card/bank data) and recent investments to avoid brand tarnishing will attempt to address these concerns.
Seventy-two percent of people surveyed said it was very important for wearable technology to improve customer service. This was especially true among time-pressed parents, 76 percent of whom wanted wearable tech to make shopping a more pleasant, efficient experience.
Consumers, especially millennials, desire wearable technology in the retail space to reward them for being faithful customers. One in two millennials said they would be strongly motivated to wearables if it “has apps/features that reward those who frequently use it.”
In-store merchandising and promotional spending by brands is a key source of funding for retailers. With wearable tech, the tremendous potential for synergies will increasingly expand not only into advertising but also into content marketing, with brands providing content to retailers that will improve the shopping experience. 
No doubt technology stands at the epicenter of the wearables movement. As part of PwC’s The Wearable Future report, consumers were asked to rate how excited they’d be to experience a wearable technology product from a particular brand and, not surprisingly, tech brands have the edge. Wearable technology is at a crossroads, and it’s looking down a path on which IT is a driving force, directly impacting the technology industry. Wearable tech products are increasingly being designed with business applications in mind, with the promise of improving workplace productivity and the overall efficiency of organizations.
Wearables already have a strong incumbent challenger—the smartphone. For wearable products to take off, they will need to carve out a distinct value proposition. And, because the phone is such a fixture, for the short term, at least, wearable technology will need to seamlessly integrate with our existing technology. When asked if they’d need their wearable device to replace an existing piece of technology in order to justify its purchase, 76 percent of respondents said no.
With all signs pointing to wearable technology as the next big thing, businesses need to have a game plan in place to act on the competitive opportunity, while taking note of the challenges. Among the considerations to keep top of mind: 
Envision How Wearables Can Create New Business Opportunities: The rise of wearable devices will create new means for marketing, including smarter, more robust customer data collection, and stronger insights into user interaction. 
Keep Human-Centered Design at the Forefront of Your Strategy: To effectively embrace wearable technology, businesses must put the user at the center of the activity, reshaping an entire enterprise and its capabilities system around the customer or user experience. 
Instill Trust: As trust is a key concern with consumers in the wearables space, enterprises will need to be consistently transparent with what they do with data and how they use it. Trust is the foundation which needs to be established early on. 
Recognize that the Wearable Category Will Continue to Evolve: As with any digital strategy, adopting wearable technology requires taking the long view.
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