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Research finds falling consumer interest in wearables

Research by Argus Insights suggests that consumer interest in smart wearables has dropped off sharply since the 2014 holiday season.

Published onAugust 28, 2015

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The wearables market hasn’t quite taken off in quite the way that many manufacturers were likely hoping for and research from Argus Insights suggests that consumers have become increasingly apathetic towards the market this year. Before we delve any deeper, we should point out that the research doesn’t use actual sales data, but instead infers trends through the collation of user product reviews and social media conversations.

To summarise the findings, wearables enjoyed their strongest levels of consumer interest just before the end of 2014, with many brands seeing a boost in popularity around the holiday season. However, since then interest growth has dropped off sharply. See the graph below.

Consumer Demand for Wearables

The big release at the end of last year was the Apple Watch, and there was a lot of pressure on the device to break current trends and push wearables into the mainstream. Indeed, interest in wearables rose greatly around the launch of Apple’s smartwatch, but consumer YoY demand has since faded quickly from this peak and interest is actually lower than it was last year.

We can surmise either that broader consumers are still on the fence about the whole wearables market, despite new products, or that customers are happy with products they have already bought and aren’t in a hurry to upgrade to new technologies. Either way, it’s not great news for companies looking to push that breakthrough smartwatch.

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Argus Insights suggests that although the Apple Watch grabbed the majority of consumer attention around launch time, interest has returned to more basic devices like the Fitbit. However, the research does highlight increasing levels of satisfaction with smartwatches when compared to fitness trackers, with Motorola and LG products gaining notable mention. Satisfaction levels with fitness bands are apparently dropping, while consumers are said to be more “delighted” with smartwatches these days, due to their richer set of features.

“It is clear that as the Apple Watch, the Moto 360, and the LG Watch Urbane out-perform fitness bands in the hearts of consumers, Fitbit and others in this category will need to add more to their offerings to keep consumers engaged and coming back for more.” – John Feland, CEO and founder, Argus Insights

In the future, the company expects that fitness trackers are going to have to offer consumers additional features in order to remain competitive with more powerful smartwatches. While it’s already true that smartwatches can do more, the low cost aspect of fitness trackers is also likely a major part of their appeal, which smartwatches may struggle to address.

We will have to see if new products this year can revitalize consumer interest in wearables come the 2015 holiday period. Do you agree with the research about smartwatches and fitness trackers?

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