The smartwatch revolution is taking its time.
Just 3 percent of consumers age 16 and up own a smartwatch or smartband (i.e., fitness tracker), according to a new survey from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for the group, tells JCK that, for now, smartwatches mostly appeal to “classic early adopters”: More than two-thirds of current owners are male, and one out of three are between the ages of 25 and 34.
“As much as Apple has tried to make [its watch] look beautiful, it’s still the geeks who are buying them,” Milanesi explains.
Surprisingly, smartwatch adoption was relatively low among younger consumers, ages 16–24.
“Young people live and die by their phone,” she says. “Smartwatches are still expensive gadgets. Young consumers might not work out or go to the gym. They are not that interested.”
Neither, she says, are most consumers. “It’s still a nice-to-have, but not a must-have category, so consumers aren’t going to spend that much for it,” she says. “It’s still too hard for the average consumer to understand why to buy them.”
Part of the problem is mixed messages from manufacturers. “They are either trying to make it the kitchen sink, it does everything for you, or they are too nichey,” she says.
Even so, she expects more targeted watches, especially from smaller players who aren’t Samsung or Apple. “You will see watches meant for golf players, one for swimmers, or the best watch for sleep apnea,” she says.
Milanesi does think the market will eventually grow to be as large as somewhere between the tablet and smartphone market.
The survey, conducted in August, tallied 11,000 customers.
Reasons for Not Buying Smartwatches
I don’t understand the technology 8%
Smartwatch functions aren’t useful to me 29%
Smartwatches/smartbands are too expensive 41%
My phone does everything I need 33%
I don’t understand why I need one 27%
I don’t like the way they look 13%
I’m not sure it will sync with my smartphone 2%
I don’t want to wear a watch 32%
Age of Purchasers
Source: Kanter Worldpanel ComTech