Wearable technology gets a lot of media attention, but when it comes to grabbing big chunks of the market, it is still very much in the “slow burn” phase. If the future is to be wearable as some would claim, then it is consumer attitudes that will drive the all-important take-up rates.
Two new studies into those attitudes have hit the digital shelves and their conclusions reveal a bright future for wearables. The surveys both indicate that acceptance of the technology is rising and increases in “adoption rates” will follow the upward trend.
A US national survey by Wearables.com and The Center for Generational Kinetics found that more and more Americans now believe wearables are here to stay. The study – The Unexpected State of Consumer Wearable Technology – describes wearables as an “untapped opportunity available for brands and technology providers to develop wearables that benefit users both in their personal and work life.”
Consumers, the research discovered, are open to the concept of wearable and smart technology. However, for actual demand to increase, they need to be offered a better user experience. When it comes to the willingness to share personal information such as geolocation details, barriers are slowly being broken down and it is the younger generations, especially the “Millennials,” who will be most willing to buy into the concept that sharing is one of the core functional benefits of wearable technology.
Among the key findings were:
• 18% of those surveyed would provide information to receive notifications about local events, concerts, stores or restaurants they might enjoy, while 15% would give that information to learn the real-time location of their friends or gain entry to an event without having to show an ID or ticket.
• 60% of Americans would be comfortable providing information about themselves anonymously to their favorite stores, 56% to a product brand, or 46% to an app.
• Millennials would be more likely than non-millennials to feel comfortable sharing their information anonymously with the government (40% vs. 25%), anyone on the Internet (35% vs. 20%), or their employer (30% vs. 16%).
In other key findings, the survey discovered that almost two-thirds of Americans would consider a wearable technology purchase, with men being more willing than women if it “made them appear to be smarter or more attractive.” More than a third of social media users would be happy to share their purchasing history, such as the stores they visit and their online buying habits. The report also shows that branding will be an essential part of wearable marketing as consumers seem keen to have a branded wearable product by the likes of Nike, Ray Ban, Canon or Rolex – if those were available.
Meanwhile, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has produced its own survey results. In The Wearable Future report of 1,000 US consumers, PwC points out that many current wearables have “under-delivered” so far and that a third of those who had bought a wearable device in the past year no longer, or rarely, used it. The main problems seen by those who took part were “price, privacy, security, and the lack of “actionable” and inconsistent information from the devices.” More than 80% were also concerned about privacy implications and possible security breaches.
On the plus side, PwC found that more than half of the respondents were excited about the future of wearables. Among the most influential potential benefits were:
• Improved safety: 90% of consumers thought the ability for parents to keep children safe via wearable technology was important.
• Healthier living: More than 80% of consumers listed eating healthier, exercising smarter and accessing more convenient medical care as important potential benefits.
• Simplicity & ease of use: 83% of respondents saw simplification and improved ease of technology as key benefits of the new technology.
In essence, this survey shows that the potential buyer of wearable technology will demand the products provide a simplified user experience, embrace seamless interconnection with the Internet of Things and smart devices, and give them a means of achieving their personal goals more easily.
PwC sees the results as proving that wearables present industry with a massive opportunity for advancement and growth, particularly in the entertainment, media and communications (EMC) sector. “Where there’s a screen, there’s an opportunity” they claim.
With over 90% of US children aged 12 to 17 playing at least an hour of video games a day, this is another potential gold-mine for the wearable market. The technology could also provide the advertising industry with a whole new target market.
Both these surveys will give comfort to those companies who have invested heavily in wearables. If they can address the privacy concerns and expand the appeal beyond the “Millennial” generation, the future may indeed be wearable.