Strong Holiday Season Ahead For Wearables As Fitness Device Awareness Doubles, According to The NPD Group

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Fitness Apps Provide Opportunity and Threat to the Devices

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We expect to see a number of new devices hit the market helping to drive higher demand higher for the category but also price drops on some of the older devices – creating even more appeal for the holiday season

In less than a year, awareness of wearable fitness devices among U.S. consumers has doubled, going from 30 percent last November to 70 percent at the end of July, according to new the NPD Connected Intelligence Consumers and Wearables Report. This increased awareness will help shape a strong holiday season.

“Activity trackers are going to be a hot-selling item this holiday season” says Eddie Hold, vice president of Connected Intelligence at The NPD Group. “We expect to see a number of new devices hit the market helping to drive higher demand higher for the category but also price drops on some of the older devices – creating even more appeal for the holiday season.”

Ownership of fitness activity trackers in the U.S. has also doubled, now at 10 percent which has helped propel the use of standalone smartphone fitness apps. Just over 25 percent of U.S. consumers say they have used a fitness app on their smartphone at least once, and many of these do not require a wearable device to work, instead leveraging the sensors in the smartphone.

“It is easy to look at the adoption of standalone fitness apps and declare that the wearable activity tracker is superfluous, and that the smartphone app will ensure that the wearable device has a short-lived run, but it’s too narrow a view of the landscape,” said Hold. “We expect to see initial use of the smartphone apps drive consumers to adopt wearable technology that is better suited to activity tracking than the smartphone. As such, the smartphone apps help to expand awareness and the need for the activity trackers over time.”

There is, however, a final word of caution with regards to early wearable devices. Just over 40 percent of activity tracker owners no longer wear the device. “This highlights a significant disconnect between what the consumer is hoping to achieve and what the initial products actually deliver,” noted Hold. “As such, the devices need to improve quickly in order to better meet the needs of the consumers.”

How are smartwatches fairing in the wearables market? Find out more in Eddie’s blog.

NPD’s new wearables advisory service includes consumer panel-based reporting, qualitative reports, U.S. point-of-sale data, and unique analysis from NPD’s leading industry experts.
Consumer and Wearables Report

The Connected Intelligence Consumers and Wearables Report is based on results from an online survey of 5,800 U.S. consumers who were surveyed in July 2014. The ownership results are calibrated against NPD’s Retail Tracking Service wearables data, as well as secondary survey sources.

About Connected Intelligence
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: Follow Connected Intelligence on Twitter: @npdci.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions. By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth. Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food / foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, and video games. For more information, visit and Follow us on Twitter: @npdtech and @npdgroup.

Sarah Bogaty
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