Wearable tech brands forge a valuable league of their own
We've witnessed technology go from big and cumbersome to neat and portable. Now things have got so small, we're able to wear our technology, providing unique opportunities and challenges for the brands clamouring for attention in that space.
Graham Hales: global chief marketing officer, Interband London
And the technology brands that understand aesthetics are only likely to win further.
Mobile handsets have traversed the markets of technology, fashion and jewellery for some time. Relieving the phone from your pocket doesn’t just make you comfortable, the reveal says much about you.
Many younger age groups no longer feel the need for a watch so the mobile handset really does become the principle item of "jewellery" for many. Tech brands are trying to tackle this head on. Samsung recently launched Galaxy Gear, rumours are flying around about the launch of the iWatch and Google recently acquired smart watch maker WIMM.
Smart watches will be an attractive category for the brands to move into. As technology became smaller, the market increasingly focused on how to make it as portable as possible.
Google Glass is an early example of this, but whilst most phones comfortably fit in a pocket, attaching your technology to your wrist is even easier and potentially more valuable to the brands.
We already acknowledge that our brand selection of a smart phone makes a statement about the individual. This makes the role that the brand plays in driving choice important.
Somewhere between 30% to 50% of our reason for choosing a smart phone is down to brand. But in the watch market it increases still further. The role of brand in the luxury watch sector can be as high as 75%.
Rolex, IWC, Cartier, Breitling, TAGHeuer and their numerous stable mates have become valuable brands as a result of this and they will understandably be increasingly nervous about the tech brands encroaching on "their" category.
Whilst the tech brands may lack the hundreds of years it took to build luxury watch heritage under the old economy’s market conventions, Apple, Samsung and Google have their own abilities to drive demand and can deliver overt functionality that will establish the wearer to be tech-savvy as well as have umpteen megabits of computer processing power on their wrist.
That’s clearly a compelling proposition that promises to disrupt the watch category as we know it and make tech brands still more valuable. After all, if the brands can successfully extend themselves into categories with a high role of brand, as well as enjoying the clear commercial benefits, the tech brands will prosper from their increased value and become even more powerful.
So the technology brands we’re comfortable to "wear" are the technology brands that will win in this emerging sector. It’s not just about feeling comfortable to be adorned by the brand on a t-shirt or a piece of merchandise.
It’s about design. Take Apple, its cool simplistic design has always been one of the brand’s principle attributes and whilst this may have been questioned in the post-Jobs era, they’ve now employed former Yves Saint Laurent CEO, Paul Deneve, as Vice President of Special Projects.
I have no idea what Paul’s "special projects" are, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t connected to technology we’re comfortable to wear whilst restoring the brand’s sense of superiority in aesthetic design.
And that would seem a great way to increase the brand’s value above and beyond the $76.5 bn that Interbrand valued it to be in 2012.
Graham Hales is global chief marketing officer, Interband London
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