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Digital innovation drives loyalty and retention in the sports & leisure industry

Alan Martin
25th March 2015

Plus trends from Mobile World Congress 2015.

Mobile World Congress has been and gone once again, but it's always worth marketers keeping an eye on it.

While some of the technology on show in Barcelona will not be available for months or even years, it’s an insight into where things are headed and certainly worth considering for long-term content marketing plans.

Yes, undoubtedly things were simpler before the days of smartphones: when Internet browsing on mobile devices was something only considered as a last resort. But nowadays, any company designing purely for desktop visitors is dead before the site is even live. MWC is a great way of getting an insight into these trends before they arrive, and ensuring your content marketing strategy isn’t a dodo walking.

The top line stuff that gets the mainstream headlines is fairly predictable for anyone with even a passing interest in the industry: new handsets from HTC and Samsung (the M9 and S6 respectively) suggests more evolution than revolution, and even a little stagnation. Big screens are here to stay, but the handsets are faster than ever, which we imagine means people will be more glued to the small screen than ever before. As such, mobile optimised websites remain essential, meaning beautifully sculpted, web-based user interfaces are only to be applauded if they also work in a small(er) screen environment.

War of the wearables

With the growth of wearable tech gaining momentum and the launch of the Apple Watch just around the corner, manufacturers are quietly delighted that the company that made iPods synonymous with mp3 players has vindicated their design choices.

Sure enough, there were more wearables on display at MWC, and these followed the two trends that have made a successful wearable to date: effective fitness tracking, and looking stylish – like a traditional watch, and not a computer on the wrist. In the former camp, HTC showed off their partnership with Under Armour to present the HTC Grip fitness band, while in the latter, LG showed off the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei offered up the Huawei Watch – a wearable containing 3 ounces of 24 carat gold, and a rumoured price tag of $1,000.

Wearables are suddenly very big business indeed, and with Android Wear and Apple Watch allowing notifications to the wrist based on location and interests, the possibilities for marketers are pretty varied. Fitness tracking apps can offer their own rewards too. Early players like Bounts offer vouchers for steps taken with the likes of Fitbit and Runkeeper. I personally have earned £20 in Amazon vouchers purely for running and walking as I always have – for me, this is a very welcome kind of marketing.

A brave new world

Finally, there’s virtual reality (VR). Google Glass may have gone extinct, in part because it failed to blend in with fashion as smartwatches are learning to, but VR is everywhere. The Oculus Rift is one thing (and we helped Merrell use this in a virtual reality hike campaign with great effect earlier this year). but with HTC teaming up with games company Valve for the HTC Vive, and with Samsung and Sony offering their own headsets, this is a brave new world worth paying attention to. Even Google are secretly getting in on the act, according to Forbes.

For the here and now, smartphones remain the best, safe bet. But just as the apps gold-rush is over now, and the big beneficiaries were those smart and brave enough to jump in early, so wearables and VR offer great opportunities. Are you feeling brave enough to try something new? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

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