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Technology, sport, or fashion brands - where do consumers turn to for their wearables?

by Anselme Laubier , 09.09.2014

From activity trackers to data glasses to smart watches, wearable technology is heralded by many as the next big thing. As a result the market is not only becoming crowded but extremely competitive as brands from a range of sectors fight it out for a piece of this big business. But do consumers want to buy their wearables from technology, sport or fashion brands? And does this differ by country?

Our new global study* exploring people’s views on wearable technology in China, Germany, South Korea, the UK and the US gives us a unique insight into the brands people trust to buy from. Taking activity trackers, although they are manufactured by companies operating in a range of sectors, the study found that well-known technology companies have the greatest appeal in all countries surveyed. This is the case for seven in 10 South Koreans (69%), just over half of the Chinese (54%), half (51%) of Germans, 47% of people in the UK and 42% of Americans.

Sports brands follow in second place, but by quite a margin. The largest appetite is amongst UK and US consumers, with around a third stating a preference for sports brands. They appeal to just under 30% of consumers in China and Germany, but only 17% of South Koreans. In general we see sports brands performing best among younger target groups.

One thing the study does suggest however is that the sales potential of activity trackers from very specialized technology brands, fashion companies and luxury brands is likely to be more limited for now, highlighting an importance of investing in educating consumers.

Activity trackers don’t just measure sporting activity. They can also monitor and display health and fitness variables such as heart rate and quality of sleep. The survey shows that fitness monitoring is the most important area of application for consumers in Germany, the UK and the USA, whereas recording health data is regarded as a priority by Chinese. South Koreans prefer a detailed breakdown of personal statistics on fitness, health and sleep.

Evidently, any brands looking to enter this market need to consider creating devices that are multi-functional if they are to appeal to a truly global marketplace. In addition, recognizing how your brand is perceived in the market is critical – currently technology brands appear to be the first choice.

*Study conducted in August 2014 interviewing online 5000 smartphone owners in China, Germany, South Korea, the UK and the US. Download the full report here.

Extended study

We’ve planned a multi-client research study exploring how to raise consumer interest in smartwatches. Learn more about the project and how you can take part.

Anselme Laubier is Account Manager at GfK’s Media & Technology. He can be reached at anselme.laubier@gfk.com.