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Consumers want wearable benefits but don’t like wearables

Friday January 16, 2015 at 1:31pm
UK consumers want all of the benefits which can be best delivered by wearable devices, but are less in love with the devices themselves, according to a new report. Many have yet to be convinced that wearable devices offer any additional useful functionality above and beyond what can be provided by smartphones. The report has been published by Clicked Research, which argues that most existing consumer attitude studies are US-focused and that there is a need to explore what UK citizens think about wearable technology. Steve Mellor, managing director and founder of Clicked, says: “We wanted to provide a reality check on consumer attitudes, benefits and barriers to buying wearable technology in the UK. A lot has been said about the myriad permutations of wearable technology but little is known about its potential application in consumers’ lives, from the consumers’ perspective.” Clicked’s research suggests that 20% of the UK population is ‘highly likely’ to purchase wearable technology. The greatest growth potential is for smartwatches, with a total UK market of circa 6m users. Mellor observes that in such a new market, with 67% of users owning their device for less than six months, it is still quite early to gauge mass market potential. However, early adopter reactions to owning wearable devices are overwhelmingly positive so far (more than 90% of owners endorse their products). Significantly, given Google’s announcement that it is to stop selling Google Glass, one of the most surprising findings concerns smartglasses. While smart glasses, such as Google Glass or the Epson Moverio (pictured), emerge as the most unlikely wearable technology product for UK consumers to adopt, some of the most desirable wearable benefits are most effectively delivered via Smart glasses. So Smart glasses provide the best solution to delivering the benefits consumers most want, but are the kind of devices they say they are least likely to buy. Clicked’s report suggests that those who currently wear normal glasses will be much more likely to adopt the technology than those who do not, especially when the new technology can be added into prescription glasses. Another irony for wearable tech is found when the market is segmented. The most lucrative target market with the biggest potential for this category is the over 54s. This age group would gain the most benefit from wearable technology for health reasons and scored highly on wanting these benefits; yet they are the least likely to purchase. Clicked’s research suggests that this is due to concerns about privacy and sharing data. Wearable tech cannot deliver the desired benefits unless it shares statistics, for example, to monitor health; but the older generation is uncomfortable with this. Older UK consumers are unlikely to buy wearable tech unless manufacturers reinforce data security. Smartphone ownership continues to be a barrier to mass-market wearable technology purchase. Mellor comments: “Wearable tech benefits must be significant for consumers to even contemplate replacing their existing devices.” Clicked identifies the top four business sectors to benefit from wearable technology as: Heath, Retail, Media and Communication. Health and exercise measurement emerges as the most appealing driver of ownership, with a significant sub-set saying that the competitiveness and community sharing of exercise stats is highly appealing. The functional benefits of retail price comparison and hands-free navigation, best delivered by Smart glasses, also appear in the top five reasons to own, according to the report. Mellor adds: “Researching a new category can deliver skewed results as potential consumers struggle to imagine whether they would or wouldn’t use a new product or service. To ensure robust results, we took 1,000 potential users through the daily routine of a person using wearable tech at work, home, on the go and socially. We noticed a higher propensity to own once they understood the potential benefits and applied them to their own routines.”
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