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UK Insights

Smartwatches fare better than fitness bands in Europe

Lauren Guenveur

Global Mobile Analyst, ComTech

Mobile 25.01.2017 / 13:00

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Wearable device data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

Wearable device data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows that, as of December 2016, in Europe's four big markets (Great Britain, Germany, France, and Italy), wearables penetration continued to lag that of the US (15.6%) at 9.2%, with the smartwatch portion of the category at 3.8%.

In the EU4, smartwatches fared better than fitness bands, taking 38% of wearables sales in the fourth quarter of 2016, led by Great Britain, where nearly 45% of wearables purchased were smartwatches. The lowest penetration for smartwatches was in France, where 70% of those who bought a wearable opted for a fitness band. Apple remained the top smartwatch brand sold in EU4 at 37% in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to Samsung’s 16%. Fitbit captured 50% of fitness band sales in EU4, with a more competitive Garmin reaching 23%. In Germany, Garmin surpassed Fitbit as the largest fitness band brand at 36% vs. 31%, respectively. 

Beyond Apple and Fitbit, manufacturers have struggled to convince consumers to purchase wearables, once considered ‘the next big thing’ in tech. In the US, among non-owners surveyed in December 2016, just 8% planned to buy a wearable device in the next 12 months, while 76% did not intend to purchase. Price remains the largest barrier (46%), while 33% cited ‘functionalities are not useful,’ and 30% said they did not want to wear a watch.

Despite lower penetration in the EU4, future intent to purchase a wearable is higher than in the US, with 12.1% planning to buy in the next year. Of those planning to purchase, 39% said they would buy a smartwatch, more than those intending to purchase a fitness tracker at 31%. Nearly a third said they were unsure of what they would do.

For some vendors, this market weakness has had consequences, with Lenovo’s Moto and Microsoft both announcing in late 2016 that they would stop production of their wearables. Jawbone ceased production in May 2016, and early-riser Pebble was acquired by Fitbit. The Vector Watch software platform and team were also snapped up by Fitbit at the end of the year.

CES 2017 generated some cautious optimism in the wearables space. Start-ups were attempting to differentiate themselves from traditional fitness bands and watches with more specialized and specific use cases such as serious health tracking, stress and emotion monitoring, and exercise form evaluation. And these were not all wrist-wearables. Other emerging applications included smart clothing, hearables, stick-on trackers, rings, and a wearable breast pump.

An old saying may apply here – ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ It is a fitting metaphor for the current state of the wearables market, but for consumers looking for a specific use case instead of general functionality, the future holds some promise.

Source : Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's Notes

This data is based on research extracted from the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global consumer panel. ComTech is the largest continuous consumer research/mobile phone tracking panel of its kind in the world, conducting over one million interviews per year in Europe alone. All consumer data in this release excludes enterprise sales.

For more information, or to interview one of our wearable expert, please contact us.

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