The Internet of Things and How It Will Affect Marketing
Britton Lorentzen
Designer, marketer, and owner.

Published: April 17th, 2017

Burger King came out with an advertisement recently that used Google Home as a way to talk about their product. Instead of the spokesperson talking about the burger for fifteen seconds, he opted to ask the Google Home what a Whopper burger was. While the advertisement royally angered owners of the Google Home, other folks praised Burger King for how creative they were in using a different method of advertising their food. The advertisement eventually lead Google to disable the advertisement from being able to trigger the device. However, the bigger idea behind Burger King’s latest advertisement is how methods like this can have an affect on how we can market to folks that have products connected to the ‘Internet of Things’. For anyone unfamiliar with the internet of things, it’s the concept of transforming everyday products into digitally connected products that are supposed to make our lives easier. The drawback of having everything in your house connected to the internet leads to people feelings like big brother is always watching them. Amazon recently had their own debacle around people feeling like the CIA is hijacking Alexa to snoop on conversations. However, there are positive and negative aspects to allowing marketers the ability to use digitally connected home products to market products to folks.

Is It Really Necessary?

Having everything in your house connected to the internet is completely unnecessary. There isn’t a need for someone to have a fridge or toaster that can talk to the internet. However, one benefit to having things connected to the internet is the ability to notify someone of a perceived problem before it comes up. For example, let’s imagine that you have a fridge that is connected to the internet. You’re able to set up your fridge through an app that recognizes everything that’s in it. This could be achieved either through RFID tags built into the food packaging or sensors that are able to recognize when something is in a certain section. Once a section or certain product is missing from the fridge, a notification could be pushed to your phone allowing you to see when you’re out of a certain product. This isn’t a necessary feature for anybody. However, the convenience this feature creates is highly marketable and people will eventually embrace the idea as a way to make trips to the grocery store easier.

What This Means For Business

The internet of things has an interesting way it can help businesses market their products more effectively. When we look at capitalism from a very basic perspective, it's the concept of someone selling goods or services to people that have a problem. This problem could be something like the person is hungry, they need to go from one place to another, or they need to communicate with someone. There are times that someone needs the help of an intermediary to solve their problem. In this case, an internet-connected device could easily be the intermediary a person uses to solve their problem. If we jump back into our fridge example from earlier, we can see how the fridge can serve as an intermediary for someone shopping at the store. Let’s imagine that someone is trying to figure out whether or not they have cheese at home. They may pull their phone out, open up the app connected to their fridge, and see that they’re out of cheese based on what the sensors say back home. At this exact moment, a problem has been identified and the customer will more than likely start finding a solution to their problem. This would be a perfect time for someone like Tillamook to push a coupon to the user’s email, phone, or application letting them know they can get a deal on a package of cheese. The reason something like this is possible is because the fridge is serving as an intermediary. Not only is it working to notify you of absent products, it’s also working to help you find ways to fill in those absent spots. As more devices become connected to the internet, it will be essential for businesses to figure out what a customer’s intermediaries are and find ways to push notifications to those products. Hopefully, it’s to offer a solution to the customer instead of forcing a customer to listen to some spiel on Wikipedia.

There are many aspects to the internet of things. This post only scratches the surface on how the internet of things can potentially affect people. What do you think about the internet of things and how it’ll affect you in the future? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me a message on Twitter.

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