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It’s official, wearable tech is poised to become
mainstream in 2015. With smart phones owned
by 8 in 10 respondents, and nearly 9 out of 10
of these respondents using their smart phones
every day, there’s a clear case to be argued that
the market is ready for the next‘big thing’.
Indeed, of the 1000 UK consumers
we interviewed 1 in 10 already
own a piece of wearable tech
and nearly one third are planning
to buy some form of wearable
tech in the next two years.
That’s a significant number
who will be looking increasingly
closely at what’s available or
coming up on the market. So
there’s going to be a lot of
pressure and high expectations
on manufacturers to bring the
right product to market.
Of those who already own a wearable tech
device, age proves to be a significant factor, with
popularity amongst 26-35 year olds double that
of any other age group.
Income is also important: nearly a third of
those earning over £100K own a smart
watch and a quarter own a smart wristband,
which is significantly higher than the other
Gender though is of little relevance,
with negligible difference in the
male and female ownership levels
across all ages and incomes.
Currently the most popular wearable
tech is smart wristbands and smart
watches with 58% of smart watch
owners and 47% of smart wristband
owners using them every day.
However, despite this even split in current
ownership it’s smart watches which are the
most sought after pieces of wearable tech with
over a third of male respondents and almost a
quarter of female respondents intending to buy
one in the next two years.
The good news for manufacturers is that 9 out
of 10 of current owners say their wearable
tech device is important to their lives with
almost half going even further to say that
it is vitally important to their lives. This bodes well
for future sales as our research shows that 9 out
of 10 of those planning to buy an item of
wearable tech believe that it will play an
important role in their life.
When considering whether to buy wearable tech,
the ability to perform multiple tasks is the most
important factor for nearly a fifth of respondents.
Conversely almost the same number see the
ability to perform a single dedicated practical task
as most important, so manufacturers are going to
struggle to please everyone.
With such high smart phone ownership, users are
undoubtedly accustomed to internet connectivity
and they want the same for their wearable tech.
Over three quarters of respondents see
the ability to connect to the internet as
important with 17% seeing it as the most
important factor. Just under 9 in 10 respondents
feel that an item of wearable technology should
have internet connectivity, and the majority
expect wireless connectivity while out and about.
Interestingly when smart phones already offer this
functionality and most current wearable tech is
an‘add-on’rather than a replacement to the smart
phone, access to email and internet connectivity
are the two capabilities that are most likely to
encourage a respondent to buy a wearable tech
device. The other sought-after functions are also
all available on smart phones. Despite this half of
respondents would be encouraged to buy if the
device told the time, and slightly less than half
would be encouraged to buy if the device had an
in-built camera and could store and play music.
That said, there are some high
expectations for wearable tech from
those planning to buy. 8 out of 10
respondents believe that wearable
tech could help them in their
day-to-day life and 45% feel it can
do this by helping to organise
their lives. 44% expect internet
searches to be not only faster
but also more accurate and around
a third see wearable tech as a way
to better entertain themselves,
a figure which rises to 2/5 in 18-25
Despite major press coverage and rising
ownership of wearable tech, it’s surprising that
the research shows marginally more respondents
still see this technology as just a fad than those
It’s not difficult to track where this scepticism
might originate when wearable tech giants such
as Google appear to be retreating. Only recently
Google announced that mainstream sale of
Google Glass to consumers would cease and,
although they say the project isn’t dead, it does
mean that one of the most ambitious wearable
tech projects has just taken a step back.
Looking at other challenges to
wearable tech ownership we
discovered a couple of rather
predictable aspects: expense
and battery life.
These are areas that will both improve as time and
adoption increases, though in the short term at
50% and 40% respectively highlighting these as
challenges, these are issues that manufacturers
need to address, particularly as around a third of
respondents feel that smart phones can already
do everything they need anyway. If wearable
tech is to be anything more than an add-on or
enhancement to technology already being
widely used, it’s going to need to beat the
smart phone at its own game.
In terms of battery life, there are some practical
considerations to consider – if people’s wardrobes
are going to start filling up with wearable tech,
how are they going to keep them all charged
without having piles of clothing sitting by plug
points? This might seem a minor point, but 25%
of respondents highlighted keeping multiple
items charged as a concern, so it shouldn’t be
We noted earlier that a significant number of
respondents expect their device to be connected
to the internet, even when they are out and
about. So it’s not surprising that 40% are
worried about hackers stealing their
Indeed, security of the data produced
by wearable tech, which can be very
personal data, is a major concern with
nearly three quarters of respondents
worried about it.
Around 4 out of 10 highlighted various
concerns with how the data is stored
particularly, with the use of cloud ever increasing,
the worry that they may not know the physical
location of where the data is stored.
It’s clear therefore that there needs to be
transparency as to where the data is being stored
and what the data is being used for, otherwise
there are going to be trust issues.
With nearly 6 out of 10 respondents also
worried that wearable tech makes it easier
for companies to spy on them, data security is
definitely a concern that needs to be addressed.
But by who? Over half see the security of the
data generated by wearable tech as the joint
responsibility of the manufacturer and the user,
compared with over a third that see it as mainly
the manufacturer’s responsibility and a minority
of 9% who see it as the user’s duty to ensure
With fashion and status undeniably important
in the smart phone market, it’s understandable
why a growing number of wearable tech
manufacturers are collaborating with fashion
houses and startups are focusing on design first.
But is it what the wearable tech consumer
Apparently not just yet. Despite wearable tech
being arguably the most personal technology
we’ve seen to date (after all you put it on, you
don’t just carry it about), it’s not yet a fashion
statement for our respondents with only half
rating the device being fashionable as an
important factor in their purchase decision and
more than two thirds instead wanting their
device to blend in with everyday clothing.
Furthermore, a massive 8 out of 10 are
concerned with comfort, and two thirds
think a good or flattering fit is important
but perhaps surprisingly, given the innovative
and gadget-like nature of these devices, only
just over half want their wearable tech to
look like advanced technology.
Could this be because to date most wearable
tech devices have had a health and fitness focus,
therefore restricting it to niche market status?
Certainly, if you believe the hype then wearable
tech has the ability to turn us all into fitness
fanatics and the potential market for fitness tech
is undoubtedly there. Two thirds of respondents
currently do less than 8 hours of physical activity
a week, and around 4 in 10 do less than 4 hours
Furthermore, nearly two thirds of respondents
agree that wearable tech is an easy method to
help them improve their health and fitness and
nearly a third believe that wearable tech can
help them get fitter with heart rate monitoring,
physical fitness trackers and calorie
monitoring seen as the most practical
However, only around half see a
fitness-related function as important
when considering whether to buy
Perhaps then the future mass-market success of
wearable tech lies in what other functionality
these devices can provide. As major players such
as Intel and Apple enter the market and with the
much-anticipated Apple Watch due to hit the
shelves by April of this year, will this be the
catalyst to take wearable tech beyond fitness
users to the mainstream? With Apple’s track record
in digital music, smartphones and tablets there’s
certainly a strong evidence to suggest it will.
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Survey conducted in November 2014 by
Vanson Bourne. Respondents were 1000
consumers in the UK.