Smartwatches Top Choice for Consumer Wearables

A number of key companies—including Apple—entered the smartwatch market in 2015, which in turn is driving excitement among consumers.

cta and wearables

Of the 74 percent of online American adults who are likely to purchase health and fitness technology in the next 12 months, one in three (35 percent) plan to buy a smartwatch, according to a report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The study found that consumer purchase intent in the health and fitness technology category is highest for smartwatches, followed by fitness-related apps (30 percent), dedicated wearable fitness activity trackers (27 percent), smart apparel (27 percent), and devices that track sleep patterns (23 percent).

"Consumers are driving toward both wearable fitness activity trackers and smartwatches for health purposes, and both will continue to serve important roles in enabling consumers to better track and manage their health and fitness levels and goals," Danielle Cassagnol, senior coordinator for industry communications at CTA, told eWEEK. "According to research from the Consumer Technology Association, unit sales of health and fitness activity trackers will top smartwatches in 2015. Yet, smartwatches add tremendous functionality beyond health and fitness monitoring for consumers who want additional capabilities such as apps and notifications on the wrist."

A number of key companies entered the category in 2015, which in turn is driving excitement among consumers, Cassagnol said.

The CTA projects sales of health and fitness devices—led by the popularity of activity tracking devices—will reach $1.8 billion in revenue in 2015 (an 18 percent growth year-over-year), before increasing another 10 percent in 2016.

Among online U.S. adults, consumers reported their top reason for buying a health and fitness device was to improve their health, followed by a recommendation from a friend, good reviews and having the right features for their lifestyle.

A suggestion from a friend or family member (44 percent) is the primary influence for purchasing health and fitness technology, followed by online suggestions (17 percent), a medical professional (11 percent), a corporate wellness program (4 percent) and a salesperson in-store (4 percent).

"Health and fitness technology continues to become more technologically sophisticated while at the same time becoming equally more approachable for consumers," Cassagnol said. "Consumers can do more than ever before, and it has become easier than ever. The market will continue to expand as companies develop a wider array of applications to monitor and measure … all of our diverse health and fitness needs such as sleep, impact, heart rate, and other health and fitness metrics."

We should see an extension of wearable devices that drive deeper into not only fitness activities but also medical needs that were once only available through physicians and professional medical services, she added.