Activity Trackers Continue to Lead in Fitness Tracking, Despite Smartwatches Working to Close the Gap

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Seventy-nine percent of activity tracker users exercise on a regular basis, compared to 66 percent of smartwatch users, according to NPD Connected Intelligence

While we are seeing that some forms of exercise are more likely to be impacted by the smartwatch, there are still a number of consumers that are planning to purchase activity trackers to monitor their fitness.

While activity tracker sales continue unabated, the smartwatch is becoming increasingly popular with consumers looking to monitor more advanced activities, according to The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Activity Trackers and Sports Report.

The new report looks at wearable technology choices among different exercise groups, and while the activity tracker still leads in the majority of exercise categories, the gap is beginning to narrow. Runners are the first group to show a slightly higher number of smartwatch owners/users, with 22 percent reporting that they run on a regular basis (compared to 21 percent of activity tracker users).

“Activity tracker ownership continues to grow rapidly with more than double the smartwatch base*,” said Eddie Hold, President, Connected Intelligence. “While we are seeing that some forms of exercise are more likely to be impacted by the smartwatch, there are still a number of consumers that are planning to purchase activity trackers to monitor their fitness. Of folks that report they exercise several times a week, 47 percent are planning to purchase an activity tracker soon.”

As smartwatches move out of the early adopter phase and become more mainstream, the focus on fitness-related activities has grown. When asked how important health/fitness was, 17 percent of smartwatch users considered it a passion, as compared to 13 percent of activity tracker users.

“The activity tracker became the device of choice for the middle-aged consumer looking to get in better shape by starting an exercise routine. But that’s not where the story has to end,” said Hold. “Claims that the smartwatch would lead to the death of the activity tracker have so far proved unfounded. With a longer battery life, activity trackers have a strong target audience and are continuing to evolve. That said, activity tracker companies must continue to broaden their portfolios to satisfy more exercise-focused consumers – combining specialist functions with generalist capabilities.”

As products evolve to include more exercise/sports-focused capabilities, the need for additional smart sensors is on the rise. According to the Activity Trackers and Sports Report, one in four consumers would be interested in purchasing active wear with built-in sensors. However, price is very much a consideration as four in five of those individuals said the price would need to be right (not considerably higher than clothing without sensors) in order to purchase.

*Source: Connected Intelligence Consumers & Wearables; May 2016

The results of The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Activity Trackers and Sports Report are based on consumer panel research conducted in April 2016 that reached 5,400 U.S. consumers, aged 18+. In addition, several questions in the report were fielded using Civic Science. Civic Science provides the leading intelligent polling and real-time insights platform, partnering with hundreds of premier websites to survey millions of people daily. Its proprietary technology rapidly analyzes consumer opinions, discovers real-time trends, and accurately predicts market outcomes. This service is used to examine consumer attitudes towards activity trackers and smart watches, as well as emerging wearable technology.

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:

About The NPD Group, Inc.
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