Commentary

U.S. Consumer Wearables Usage Drops 21% To 14% Since Last Year

There could be trouble in wearables land.

Plenty of wearables are being made and shipped into the market and plenty of consumers have bought them.

Trouble is, the number of consumers who use one has declined from 21% last year to 14% this year, according to a new study by Forrester Research.

More consumers report that they have used a wearable device in the past than today, according to the latest State of Consumer and Technology Benchmark study.

The study is based on an online survey of 60,000 adults in the U.S. and 6,000 in Canada.

The most early adopters and highest users of wearables are those 28 to 36 years old, or Gen Y.

The bad news for makers and marketers of wearables is that many in that group seem to be losing interest.

Two-thirds (74%) of Gen Yers have used a wearable device, with more than a third (35%) using one last year. This year, that number is down to 28%.

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The younger group of Gen Z, those 18 to 27 years old, is pretty much in the same situation. While a quarter (26%) of them have used a wearable in the past, only 15% do now, according to the Forrester study.

“Younger consumers tend to have the highest expectations for technology and for companies,” said Gina Fleming, who leads Forrester’s marketing data science team.

“They tried these devices, and oftentimes it didn't meet their expectations in their current use case. Young consumers tend to be early adopters, but are also fast to move on if they're not satisfied.”

As in every relevant study I’ve seen, Fitbit retains the top spot in wearables. Of those who use a wearable device, here are the top devices used:

  • 40% -- Fitbit
  • 32% -- Apple watch
  • 27% -- Samsung Galaxy Gear
  • 21% -- Microsoft Band
  • 19% -- Sony SmartBand
  • 17% -- Pebble Smart Watch
  • 14% -- Jawbone
  • 12% -- Misfit device

Interestingly, all of the older groups, those being anyone older than 36, have increased in use of wearables today compared to the past.

This may look like good news for marketers of wearables, even though the past percentages of usage are relatively low compared to the younger consumers.

The difference, at least for now, looks like anyone over 36 years old may be a longer-term target for wearables while those younger may be in the high-churn group. They may give wearables a shot among some, but many are not likely to stick with it.

 

4 comments about "U.S. Consumer Wearables Usage Drops 21% To 14% Since Last Year".
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  1. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , August 25, 2016 at 10:34 a.m.

    F.A.D.     means  "For-a-Day"

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, August 25, 2016 at 10:39 a.m.

    But the units being shipped along with device improvements may also impact the future market. The researcher on the report is optimistic about the growth of wearables in the future.

  3. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, August 25, 2016 at 11:34 a.m.

    People dismissed the Palm Pilot, the Apple Newton, etc at the time. But the only meaningful lesson we can draw from it is that those specific devices didn't deliver sufficient value at that specific moment. I expect in the short term we will see a lot of examples of "The Internet of Disappointing Things" as everybody clambers up the learning curve.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, August 25, 2016 at 11:47 a.m.

    Right, Tim, as product development and marketing catch up to consumer expectations. The wearables market already is starting to shake out.

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