Technology can, without a doubt, be both a blessing and a curse. It gives us largely unhindered access to vast amounts of information literally at our fingertips. It can connect us to others in the world in a way that combats loneliness and helps us realize how interconnected we are. Of course, there are downsides to technology as well. We won’t go into the darkest downsides of technology, but we will dedicate our page space today to discussing one of the unfortunate negatives of the rapid pace with which technology advances and its latest manifestation, wearable technology, in particular. The proliferation of the dilemma of addictive consumerism and “stuff.”
First, A Quick Revisit to the Upgrade Consumerism of Technology
While we’ll be talking primarily about wearable technology in this article, we wanted to call your attention to this article from our 37 Common Marketing Traps to Be Aware Of series, Upgrade Marketing Traps. The upgrade marketing trap is the realm of technology more so than any other. We’ll be talking about other ways in which wearable technology plays to the very core of addictive consumerism, but we are pointing you in the direction of what we think is a great article refresher before we go on.
Now, Let’s Make Sure We’re All Talking About the Same Kind of Technology
So what is wearable technology? You probably know it best as the iWatch and the various competitors of the iWatch. The ill-fated Google Glass would be another example, but we all try to forget the Google Glass era, don’t we? Go-Pro cameras would be another example. Essentially, wearable technology is anything that takes your smartphone and transitions it from something that you carry around with you to something that you physically wear. In many cases, the wearable technology can do things that the body-separate technology couldn’t such as monitor your steps or activity level for you. We know what you’re thinking. Implanting chips in people is just a heartbeat away. You may be right. It’s even possible that by the time we publish this article (we write some things a few months in advance) the chips will be a reality. But for today we’re talking about wearable technology that at present comes mostly in the form of smartphone watches.
Was Creating This Technology Done To Make Your Life Better?
The first thing you may think when you encounter wearable technology is how “awesome” it is. Think of all of the information, task management, social connectivity and even leisure that is now available right at your fingertips! And think how nice it is not to have to carry it around. It’s making your life better, right? Maybe. Maybe it is – depending on a lot of factors including how you use it. But that’s not why wearable technology was developed. Sure, there may have been some visionary in the room who thought that wearable technology could take society to a “next level,” but the bigger motivation was to expand or create a product line. For larger companies like Apple or Google, who already had products and customers, wearables were created to give brand advocates and fans another item to purchase after they already had a laptop, phone and accessories. For companies like GoPro or even FitBit as an example, the wearable technology was created to generate a revenue stream for a new company. So the first thing that you need to know is that the very creation of wearable technology was mostly designed to feed consumption by creating more “stuff.”
Is It Stuff That You Need?
We’re going to go ahead and answer this for you: No. Now, with that said, we strongly advocate that every individual needs to find his or her own comfort spot on the spectrum of consumerism, and this technology may be something that you want. It’s okay to want something. It’s okay to buy something just because you want it (within reason). What’s not okay is to buy something because you think that you need it when you really, in fact, do not need it. This is what marketers want, to convince you that you need something that you really only want and therefore put pressure on you to buy it. Do you want to have the latest wearable technology? Sure. Do you need to be able to check your email on your watch or videotape what your dog does during the day from his perspective? No. But the way that wearable technology is marketed, you’ll believe that you need to do both of those things. You may want to, but you don’t need to. Don’t let marketing professionals (like us, so we know) convince you otherwise.
The Upgrade Game is Certainly at Play with Wearables
The most noticeable way that wearable technology plays into addictive consumerism, however, is by using the upgrade marketing tactics that we referred you to above. This is generally true of every type of consumer technology, but wearables in a short time have shown that they are set to release upgrades frequently. In fact, one of the most informative pieces of content about this is this article about GoPro. Essentially what happened was that GoPro released only one model. And when enough people had bought that model so that the market for it was saturated, there was no way for them to keep making money. The answer? Of course it’s an upgraded model! Technology companies can’t make money unless they keep giving you new things to buy. Just consider whether you truly need the new versions or not. We think that you already know what our opinion on this is.
Wearable technology isn’t the devil. In fact, it may well be the future. But don’t let yourself be bullied by savvy technology marketers into thinking that you don’t have options or need to purchase your wearable tech right now. Neither of these things is true!
Did we miss a way that wearable technology is increasing the reach of addictive consumerism? If so, tell us about it on the social media channels below.
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Photo Credit: Troy Nachtigall via Flickr