Brands taking tech into their own hands

tesco hudl tabletIt was only a few weeks ago that Tesco launched its Hudl tablet (pictured) and Argos has just launched MyTablet this week. It’s fair to say that everyone wants a piece of the tech pie. And the pie is not just for the tech giants. We are set to see more and more brands outside the tech sphere develop their own consumer electronics as an effective way to keep consumers close.

Amazon was one of the first brands to take tech into its own hands with the Kindle. Even Amazon has admitted that it makes little profit from the devices themselves but providing a medium to consumers that can help deliver Amazon’s online content – such as books and video – which have much higher profit margins, is clearly the strategy here. By offering consumers a device that costs as little as possible (which consumers will likely only buy once) to then purchase the company’s own online content over and over, Amazon is making a strategic move in both customer acquisition and retention.

And how about Nike? It has been laser-focused on developing consumer electronics, pushing the boundaries of what we’d expect of a sports brand that is known globally for its trainers and sports apparel. The brand is fuelling the appetite for quantified self, with Nike+ FuelBand. The electronic bracelet tracks athletic performance and with Fuel, a proprietary metric, measures movement relative to a person’s age and body type. Nike already uses the data it collects from its Nike+ system to design products and build its brand strategy. For example, when the company found that Nike+ users were running on trails more than paved roads, Nike expanded its trail-running merchandise offerings.

Nissan Europe also recently unveiled its own new smart watch for Nissan Nismo drivers. Unlike most other smartwatches that just sync to a person’s mobile phone, the planned Nismo Watch will also connect to a sports car to provide data on its performance in real-time. Through the Nismo Watch, users will be able to check their average speed and fuel efficiency. It will also keep a log of all this data to compare with current info or share with friends online. If the app detects that the car is due for some maintenance, the watch will display a warning message.

Tesco have been very vocal in implementing digital strategies to stay ahead of the curve in the retail. Tesco’s foray into this new market of technology is a significant step in its data-driven business and will enable the supermarket giant to significantly add to its giant data pool with the behaviour and insights of more than 16m regular loyalty card holders already on its files. Argos is in the throes of implementing its 5 year digital strategy, in which it is expecting internet sales to make up three quarters of its sales by 2016, many of which will be through own-brand products such as MyTablet in order to beat off online competition.

These brands are not waiting around to see how they can fit into the ever-changing digital marketplace, they are embedding digital change at the heart of their business to respond to consumers’ needs. Brands need to pay heed, otherwise they will be left behind in the digital age.

Peter Veash is CEO of The BIO Agency. Follow them on Twitter @theBIOagency.