From IOP to IOT: Consumers, Marketers and the Connected Future

Aparna Krishnan, Associate Director of Strategic Planning, Mindshare, Malaysia

From the Internet of People (IOP) to Internet of Things (IOT): we are at the cynosure of behavioural change and technology. Asia Pacific known for its heterogeneity is a motley of sub-cultures and mind-sets, yet consumers in the region are unvaryingly relinquishing control and giving authority to technology. The screen bathing Asian consumer is appraising Connected Living as an evolution mandated by reliance on technology and the need for convenience. The numbers say so.

Within the APAC region, the adoption rates for smart technologies/connected objects have been slow yet steady. The most popular connected object being Smart TV, followed by Smart wristbands and then the Smart watch. In terms of appetite of markets towards connected objects – China leads ahead of the curve, followed by Thailand and then Japan.

sdhliush;ODQSource – Global Web Index, Q4 2016

In lieu of the profusion of data and our knowledge on adoption of smart technology, below is a realistic prophecy at APAC’s ‘smart’ future both from a Consumer and Marketer perspective.

The Consumer Perspective

The jarring digital sever at home

With the multitude of solutions that smart objects provide, more and more consumers could fall prey to the Ostrich problem – the tendency to bury their head in sand and intentionally avoid or reject information. Picture this – a family sitting around a smart dinner table not talking to one another in the real world, the parents looking at data records transmitted to the table from the kid’s shoe that monitored how the kid had been holing up and not interacting with friends!

Connected living could be constructing glass walls between individuals who can communicate with each other but instead choose not to. We could be rewiring ourselves to function better online than offline!

Return of TV time!

With Connected living freeing up more time in consumer lives there is bound to be a rise in Couch Culture, this could possibly spell the comeback of TV time in Asia. It might not be linear TV or a streaming service on the TV screen it could be content being rendered on any flat surface in a smart home. This surface agnostic content streaming could be intuitive and customized with input feeds from other smart objects such as their mood info relayed from their smart clothes.

Picture this –  In Singapore, an overworked millennial is trying to get some sleep after a long day at work, however brain activity measured predicts that sleep will be induced only 3 hours later thereby turning the ceiling into a screen streaming his favourite TV show that automatically switches off when he dozes off.

Circle of Trust will wear out

Due to the eavesdropping ability of connected objects privacy concerns in consumers will touch an all-time high. Mindfulness of consumers towards the types of data being collected and shared by connected objects will be questioned; they will empower themselves to read the labels (like wash care labels) on smart objects. Because of a chunk of responsible and mindful consumers there will emerge conversations around what kind of data can be shared and stored by smart objects. This could possibly also create room for housekeeping rules related to privacy.

Living in the moment, we are all aware that though data steers the marketing of today, it is the consumer who keeps control. This is explicit from the fact that in spite of exponential growth in mobile penetration advertising is not embraced to the same extent. In such a chaotic context, we marketers cannot be desperate for order and a rulebook – we must avoid being overwhelmed by the data and avoid a fool’s rush in mentality.

The Marketer Perspective

Real time data will deliver immediate insights

There will be a new source for observed behavioural data of consumers that could feed in as inputs enabling faster insights into product performance, consumer trends and purchase behaviour. For example, through connected vending machines, Coca-Cola reports spikes in its beverage consumption on college campuses before certain television shows air, a specific insight that not only leads to better understanding of customer demographics, but one that also presents opportunities for targeted marketing.

Diversity in devices and skills

There will be richer diversity in the ‘devices’ and ‘skills’ that can integrate with AI systems , fuelled by an open source model.

Eg: C by GE is a table lamp that incorporates the Alexa Voice Service, a microphone and a speaker, and consumers can use it without possessing an Echo – or even a smartphone.

Hyundai providing members of its My Hyundai program with the ability to start their vehicle, set the internal temperature and switch on the lights before leaving the house.

Shift in the dynamics of advertising

There will be a transformation in the way low involvement products are being purchased.

FMCGs being the key Adex contributors in the APAC region could be frontrunners and the biggest beneficiary of Smart living. The replenishment of detergents by the washing machine through e-commerce partnerships, the refrigerator ordering milk for you to pick up on your way back home etc. The categories and brands with loyalty and high frequency of purchase stand to benefit the most. It might even usher in a change in the dynamics of advertising – with marketers having to focus only on brand building efforts.

A breakthrough example of Connected objects used as a marketing tool to deliver sales is the case of Rexona Deodorant in Malaysia. We used Wearables to communicate the Motionsense technology that releases freshness withheld in capsules on moving. This was a great example of media integrating with Smart objects to deliver business results, a 2% increase in penetration!

Undoubtedly, adrenaline times are here!

As marketers in the quest to future proofing businesses in the Connected landscape, we need to win both hearts and minds; the trick is to be User first, technology second and to dwell in the possibilities.

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