Wearable Technology Users Want Style, Functionality

A recent survey revealed that a majority of fitness band buyers said the ability to self-monitor was a major factor, along with concern for their health.

What do consumers most want in a wearable device? When choosing such a device, they look for special features to fit their needs and match their style, according to Nielsen's latest Connected Life Report.

Smartwatch users find functionality (81 percent) and comfort (79 percent) of the utmost importance, while fitness band owners rank accuracy (70 percent) and battery life (64 percent) as the most important attributes, the report found.

The survey, conducted in November 2013, used information gathered from the general population of adults 18 years or older (3,956 respondents) who are either current users or non-users with high interest in connected life technologies.

The survey found that 70 percent of consumers are already aware of wearable device technology like smartwatches and Google Glass, and about one in six (15 percent) of them currently use wearable tech in their daily lives.

Nearly half of Americans surveyed expressed their interest in purchasing wearable tech in the near future, but cost will likely be a limiting factor—72 percent of users said they wish wearables were less expensive.

Another barrier to entry could be fashion, as 62 percent said they wish wearables came in forms besides wristbands and watches, and 53 percent wanted wearable devices that look more like jewelry.

"This market will likely continue evolving—consumers are already looking for new form factors in wearable designs, including smart glasses and textiles, for their future purchases," the report projected.

Smartwatch owners say the top reason they purchased was for convenience, and more than a third (35 percent) said the purchase was to supplement their smartphone addiction, suggesting what motivates consumers to purchase wearable tech depends largely on the type of device and the benefits each offers for their everyday lives.

For example, according to the survey, a majority (57 percent) of fitness band buyers said the ability to self-monitor was a major factor, along with concern for their health.

Durability of wearable devices was also critical to owners of smartwatches (82 percent) and fitness bands (73 percent).

Fitness and health devices are mostly composed of activity monitors, pedometers and consumer heart-rate monitors, and may take the form of a fob or wristband, or embedded in a wristwatch, in clothing or in wearable accessories, such as shoes, hats and chest straps. The apps and services for these wearable electronics are typically provided free for use with the devices.

The majority of wearables owners are young, with nearly half (48 percent) between 18-34 years old, and men and women are equally likely to don wearable tech.

Perhaps not surprisingly, three-quarters of wearables owners consider themselves "early adopters" of technology (while only 25 percent consider themselves "mainstream").

To support their love of the latest devices, these digital trendsetters typically have more disposable income, with 29 percent making more than $100,000.

Among wearable tech owners, fitness bands were the most popular devices (61 percent), followed by smartwatches (45 percent) and mobile health devices (17 percent).