Nice to know you...
How well did you sleep last night? Is your heart rate behaving normally? Did you make those 10,000 steps during yesterday’s run? And how have last night’s tequila shots affected today’s blood glucose levels?
A decade ago, these were questions we would never have even thought about. Today they can be answered in real-time thanks to smart devices and the biometric data they record. Wearables are now providing incredible anatomical insights and as their accuracy improves we can expect to learn even more about ourselves; metabolic rates, mood analysis, even how well individual organs are functioning. Yes, soon we will all be do-it-yourself doctors.
In saying this, the ‘Quantified Self’ is a concept that’s been around for a while now but until recently, it’s only been applicable to early adopters, tech enthusiasts, and people working for Samsung with a gun held to their head. That’s all changing now as wearable tech and smartphones become mainstream.
The biggest development, mind you, isn’t for users themselves – as they aren’t the only ones benefiting from all this exciting new data. The race is now on for brands to capitalise on the self-tracking movement, which is set to spark a marketing revolution of hyper-personalised communications.
The return of brand loyalty
In the near future brands will have the information to know what we are doing and when we are doing it – at any given point during our daily lives. In fact we may even come to expect brands to predict what we'll be doing next. And what’s more, influence what we will be doing next.
Based on your biometric data and subsequent profiling, smart brands will be equipped to intercept you with reactive messages of encouragement, suggestions on how you can increase productivity and even recommendations for events or movies you might like to attend based on your current mood; “Morning Steve, your serotonin levels seem a little low today, may I suggest some movies to lift your mood? How about The Little Mermaid? Like me to order your favourite popcorn with that?”
Hyper-personalised tech combined with brand integration could eventually become our personal assistants, helping us lead more efficient, more experientially enriched lives. So could this highly intimate brand engagement signify a new era of brand loyalty?
Technology to optimise your life
Soon we’ll all be syncing our smartphones and wearable devices to ‘lifestyle design platforms’. For example, companies like TicTrac aggregate users’ data to create tailored lifestyle improvement solutions. Their behavioural analytics are used to identify users’ holistic performances based on a range of different metrics - sleep patterns, work quantity, social events, exercise, even how much time you spend on social networks. The data is then aggregated and fed back to the user along with suggestions on how they can improve productivity, sleep, fitness and nutritional intake to best suit their aspired lifestyle.
To me, it all sounds pretty damn brilliant. How incredible would it be to know that you’re becoming a healthier, more active and efficient person every day? Your entire life will be optimised with the help of technology. But some would argue the inverse perspective. At what cost will we be relinquishing all of our biometric data? Whilst we will be given an incredibly insightful ‘birds eye view’ of our lives, this precious information will simultaneously be brokered to brands that can intercept us with hyper personalised messages.
As an example, say you got caught in back to back meetings and had to skip lunch. Gatorade could identify that your afternoon blood glucose levels are low and that you’re less likely to make your routine gym session after work. Gatorade could then send you a personalised message saying ‘Hi Jim, we noticed you’re running on empty (insert blood glucose reading), tap your phone on the vending machine in your office foyer for 50% off Gatorade!’
Perhaps this is a push in the right direction, but maybe your body just needed a rest. The question is, does a brand really have the right to decide that for you? And biometric insight driven data won’t stop there either. It’s inevitable that scientific and technological advances will soon allow brands to delve even further.
Branding on a molecular level
Scientists recently discovered that the bacteria in our gut changes throughout the year to match the food we eat seasonally, and subsequently our immune systems change during these times of fluctuation. Professor Stephen Nutt, at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne points out that "It is also clear that our mood, our physical activity, metabolism, our appetite and even our sex lives are also seasonal,"
It’s these sorts of scientific insights that will allow brands to start marketing on a molecular level. Tapping into the details of our circadian rhythms will mean brands could have access to our chronobiological data, revealing how and when is the most influential time of day, month or year to communicate certain messages – all based on our physiological and emotional state.
Scary or scarily good? The answer lies on which side of the fence you sit on. The plus side for consumers is that they will begin to receive less and less branded messages that aren’t relevant to them, but now it’s in the hands of marketers to use this new power of hyper personalisation responsibly. So play nice people.
Charles Grant is a senior art director at integrated media and advertising agency Affinity.