Despite excitement at major industry events from CES to Retail Week, it appears that wearables haven’t truly caught on with consumers — at least, not yet.
According to an eMarketer report based on polling from AYTM Market Research, approximately 75 percent of internet users over the age of 18 have never purchased smart clothing or wearable devices. Comparatively, 18 percent own one device, and only 8 percent own multiple.
With the wearables market having fallen somewhat short of projections, does this mean that what was set to be a mass industry is merely a fad unlikely to gain traction? Not necessarily. It simply means that industry excitement may still be ahead of consumer readiness.
Here’s what we do know: Of the consumers who do own wearable devices, over 83 percent said they purchased them for the purpose of fitness/health tracking, indicating that certain categories of the wearables market are farther along than others — something marketers should be aware of when planning. For example, Walgreens tested a program in which customers could earn balance rewards points in exchange for steps by syncing up their fitness wearables; this worked because it catered to a category that early wearables adopters are passionate about — taking advantage of ingrained behavior rather than forcing it, like sending coupons to a smartwatch, for example.
Secondly, both consumer and retailer spending in the IoT category is still set to increase over the next five years. Nearly half of AYTM survey respondents who hadn’t purchased wearables said they planned or expected to in the next five years. Additionally, Zebra Technologies’ 2017 Retail Vision study found that 70 percent of retailers are investing in IoT technologies in a bid to improve the in-store shopping experience.
“Every inch of the retail industry is changing,” said Jeff Schmitz, CMO at Zebra. “Retailers [must be] poised to meet and exceed customer expectations with new levels of personalization, speed and convenience.”