This post is in partnership with Entrepreneur. The article below was originally published at Entrepreneur.com.
By Kim Lachance Shandrow, Entrepreneur.com
Just as smartphones have forever altered our daily lives, the revolutionizing impact of connected gadgets made for us to don on our bods will ripple well beyond our wrists, waists and faces, according to a report out today from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The gist of the 50-page The Wearable Future report: Wearables will be “the next big thing,” with some 130 million wearable devices expected to ship by 2018 — and the wearables industry on the whole forecast to gross nearly $6 billion, also by 2018. This, of course, offers a “competitive opportunity” that companies should have a game plan for by now.
“Businesses must evolve their existing mobile-first strategy to now include the wearable revolution and deliver perceived value to the consumer in an experiential manner,” says Deborah Bothun, PwC’s U.S. entertainment, media and communications leader.
If your business is in one of the following six industries PwC says is best poised to take advantage of the wearables trend, it’s time to up your game:
Companies that fall in this broad category are likely in the best position to benefit from the burgeoning wearables movement, PwC reports. “Basically, where there’s a screen, there’s an opportunity,” the report posits.
Of PwC’s 1,000 survey participants — which included consumers, wearable technology influencers and business executives — 73 percent expect wearable technology to make media and entertainment experiences “more immersive and fun.” They’re not looking to wearables “to create new genres of communication and entertainment–but rather to improve those already in existence,” according to the report.
Of those polled, millennials were the most open to trying branded wearables offered by media and entertainment companies. No surprise there.
2. Social media
PwC found that consumers want even more on-the-go access to their favorite social networks via wearables. This is especially true of always-on millennials, who were three times as likely as the general population, PwC says, to name real-time social-media updates as a key benefit of wearables.
Ninety-seven percent of American children ages 12 to 17 play an average of at least one hour of video games per day — games that wearables could render more visually and physically engaging. Of the consumers ages 18 to 24 that PwC polled, 64 percent say they would be “motivated by” wearable-integrated gaming.
In other words, the future of gaming will not be televised. It will be worn. Think literally on-your-face, 3-D virtual reality gaming via Oculus Rift and you’re there.
More wearable screens equal more places for marketers to — you guessed it — advertise. After all, wearables are portable “blank canvases for highly targeted message placements, especially in the form of content with greater relevancy and context to the user.”
Advertisers are already pouncing on wearables, devising new, clever ways to deliver personalized marketing messages directly to people who don Google Glass, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets and you name it. If you can wear it and stare at it, the advertisers will come.
A fast-growing crop of wearables already help health-conscious people monitor everything from calories consumed and burned to steps taken to sleep and more. Now, forward-thinking companies in the $2.8 trillion U.S. health-care industry are exploring ways to drive engagement and, yes, derive profits from the data all those wearables in the wild capture. It was just a matter of time.
PwC highlights Walgreens as emerging leader in this new, yet already hotly competitive space. The company is funnelling wearable-sourced data from more than one million customers (using Fitbit, iHealth and Jawbone trackers) in exchange for points that can be used like cash in its stores and on its website. The big idea: Make healthy choices, give us your data and we’ll give you rewards. So far, it’s working.
Expect a slew of additional health- and wellness-focused companies to follow suit. In the years ahead, PwC sees many offering a variety of wearable-related incentive programs, and consumers being largely receptive to them.
Wearables will soon play a central role in our everyday retail experiences. Unfortunately they’ll likely also be as haunted by privacy and data breach threats and concerns as all other things digital these days.
In PwC’s research, millennials expressed more interest in wearable-enhanced retail interactions than others surveyed. Busy parents want in, too, with 76 percent saying they’d like to use wearable tech for more “pleasant, efficient” shopping experiences — from pre-store and in-store product and deal research and comparison, all the way to the checkout.
While still only in its nascent stages, the wearables market is expected to explode. Many say wearables will forever change the way we live, work and do business. To remain competitive, your company might have to adopt a competitive wearables-integrated edge. Are you ready?
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