Fitness monitoring a major draw for wearables








Activity tracker: technology before sports brands

At IFA Berlin last week, vendors introduced a number of wearable devices. Of course, most are not available immediately but it’s a signal of things to come when wearables start getting nearly as much attention as smartphones. In fact, wearables are riding on the success and pervasiveness of smartphones.

According to a recent GfK survey in China, South Korea, Germany, the UK and the US, wearable devices are creating an even closer relationship between humans and technology, with innovations such computer-supported watches, fitness armbands and data glasses, which are generally used in conjunction with a smartphone.

Fitness monitoring is the most important area of application for consumers in Germany, the UK and the US, whereas recording health data is regarded as a priority in China. A detailed breakdown of personal statistics on fitness, health and sleep is ranked as the priority by South Korean consumers.

Opinions in the surveyed countries also differed with regard to the most important criteria behind making a purchase. In China, compatibility is  the most commonly named factor (19 percent), followed by accuracy (17 percent). However, brand is also seen as the decisive factor in the purchase decision for 16 percent of Chinese consumers. In South Korea, compatibility is viewed as the most important factor (19 percent), while there is a tie for second place between price and user-friendliness (both 17 percent).

Activity trackers are manufactured by companies operating in a range of sectors and the study found that well-known technology companies have the greatest sales potential in all countries surveyed. In South Korea, 69 percent of consumers say that such companies would be their first choice for any potential purchase, as do 54 percent in China.

However, the popularity of sports brands is particularly widespread among younger target groups. According to the study, the sales potential of activity trackers from specialised technology brands, fashion companies and luxury brands is only very limited.

In comparison to activity trackers, smartwatches offer a wider range of applications. Depending on the model, it may be possible to use these watches for telephone calls and navigation services, while some also enable users to search the internet and record data on sporting activity and health. According to the GfK study, this is considered the main area of application for smartwatches by consumers in all surveyed countries, which makes smartwatches a genuine competitor for pure activity trackers.

For Chinese consumers, the ability to monitor activity is a certain winner in this category, at 35 percent, followed by the telephone function (16 percent) and the GPS in third place (11 percent). Respondents in South Korea are also primarily motivated by the ability to monitor activity (27 percent), with the telephone function second (21 percent) and the use of apps coming third (11 percent) in the ranking.

Well-known technology companies are named as the preferred supplier of smartwatches by respondents in all countries. They are considerably ahead of sports brands in second place. The Chinese market, above all, holds potential for luxury brands from the fashion and watch industries.