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UK Wearable Technology market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of Black Friday, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • The term ‘wearable technology’ (also referred to as ‘wearable devices’ or ‘wearables’) in this Report refers to a category of technology devices that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as items of clothing.
  • Generally, wearable technology products can perform some of the same computing tasks as smartphones and have the ability to connect to the internet, which enables data exchange. In addition, they can provide sensory and scanning features such as biometrics and tracking of physiological functions and allow for real-time access to this information.
  • As far as this Report is concerned, the definition encompasses smartwatches, fitness bands, GPS watches, wearable cameras, smart clothing, smart jewellery and smart glasses/ headsets. Although Virtual Reality (VR) headsets could be considered items of wearable technology, they are not included in the definition for this Report, being rather covered in their own, separate Report, Virtual Reality – UK, December 2017.
  • The terms ‘fitness bands’ and ‘fitness trackers’ are used interchangeably, and refer to wrist-worn devices without smart functionality (this is defined as the ability to download third party apps or interact with information from a smartphone).
  • Mintel market size estimates only cover fitness bands and smartwatches.
  • This Report only covers the UK consumer market for wearable technology: B2B (business-to-business) sales are excluded from market data, and analysis refers only to trends in consumer markets unless specifically stated

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Andrew Moss, Mintel's Technology Analyst, his knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers in particular are becoming increasingly advanced, and the value of these devices is becoming clearer to consumers. Technology for managing health and wellbeing will continue to appeal, whilst functionality such as cellular connectivity will promote these devices as potential stand-alone devices for adults and children alike. Andrew Moss
Technology Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Sales of wrist-worn wearables approach 4 million in 2017
              • Figure 1: Estimated unit sales of wrist-worn wearable devices, by product category, 2016-17
            • Worldwide volumes buoyed by low price offerings in Asian markets
              • Smartwatches offer an avenue for new app revenue
                • Cheap body-worn cameras prompt strong worldwide growth
                  • Child-friendly smartwatches provide an entry-level device before smartphones
                    • Wearables in healthcare
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Apple joins companies offering smartwatches with LTE
                          • New sensors for measuring stress
                            • The consumer
                              • The gap is closing between fitness bands and smartwatches
                                • Figure 2: Ownership of portable devices, September 2017
                              • Consumers consider smartwatches over fitness trackers
                                • Heart rate sensor accuracy is important to consumers
                                  • Figure 3: Wearable devices that consumers are considering purchasing, September 2017
                                • Health and wellness monitoring the most popular use case
                                  • Connected home compatibility trumps sports tracking for tech enthusiasts
                                    • Figure 4: Interest in uses of wearable technology, September 2017
                                  • Smartwatches unlikely to replace mobiles except in specific circumstances
                                    • Figure 5: Consumer attitudes towards wearable technology, September 2017
                                  • The majority of consumers want ‘normal’ looking smartwatches
                                    • Data collection and sharing
                                      • Features of smartwatches aren’t attractive enough yet
                                        • Figure 6: Consumer perceptions of the benefits of wearable technology, September 2017
                                      • Consumers are hopeful about the future of wearable technology
                                        • Data sharing must be approached cautiously
                                          • What we think
                                          • Issues and Insights

                                            • Broader healthcare tracking options appeal to consumers
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                  • Moving beyond the early-adopter market
                                                    • The facts
                                                      • The implications
                                                      • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                        • Wrist-worn wearables show steady UK growth in 2017
                                                          • Smartwatches stretch past fitness trackers
                                                            • Worldwide shipments of fitness trackers bolstered by Asian markets
                                                              • Smartwatches focus on sport, whilst fitness trackers add smart functionality
                                                                • Healthcare tracking a key driver for wearable technology
                                                                  • A smartwatch market for children is developing
                                                                  • Market Size and Segmentation

                                                                    • Sales of wrist-worn wearables approach 4 million in 2017
                                                                      • Figure 7: Estimated unit sales of wrist-worn wearable devices, by product category, 2016-17
                                                                    • Worldwide volumes buoyed by low price offerings in Asian markets
                                                                      • Figure 8: Forecast volume sales of wearable device worldwide (millions of units), 2016-18
                                                                    • Smartwatches offer an avenue for new app revenue
                                                                      • Body-worn cameras remain a niche device with few use cases
                                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                                        • More advanced features across the board
                                                                          • New users take advantage of discounted models
                                                                            • Child-friendly smartwatches provide an entry-level device before smartphones
                                                                              • Figure 9: The VTech Kidizoom Smart Watch takes photos and allows filters to be applied
                                                                            • Wearables in healthcare
                                                                              • Headphones getting smarter
                                                                                • Smart clothing and jewellery yet to take off
                                                                                • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                  • Traditional fashion brands adopting smartwatch technology
                                                                                    • Apple joins companies offering smartwatches with LTE
                                                                                      • Insurers add health tracking incentives to their products
                                                                                        • New sensors for measuring stress
                                                                                          • Wearables broaden their appeal
                                                                                          • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                            • Traditional watch manufacturers add Android Wear
                                                                                              • Apple watch adds cellular connectivity
                                                                                                • Fitbit enters the smartwatch market
                                                                                                  • Healthcare tracker Snap40 gets £1 million NHS funding
                                                                                                    • Vitality offers heavily discounted Apple Watch
                                                                                                      • New sensors provide stress and mindfulness tracking
                                                                                                      • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                        • Apple and Fitbit lead adspend
                                                                                                          • Sponsorship deals get wearable technology seen
                                                                                                            • Figure 10: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on smartwatches and fitness trackers, Dec 2016-Nov 2017
                                                                                                          • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                            • Smartwatch ownership continues to rise
                                                                                                              • Wearable cameras remain a niche device primarily for under-34s
                                                                                                                • Smartwatches appeal to users above other wearable technology
                                                                                                                  • Health and wellness most popular use for wearable technology
                                                                                                                    • The majority of consumers want ‘normal’ looking smartwatches
                                                                                                                      • Features of smartwatches aren’t attractive enough yet
                                                                                                                      • Ownership and Acquisition

                                                                                                                        • The gap is closing between fitness bands and smartwatches
                                                                                                                          • Figure 11: Ownership of portable devices, September 2017
                                                                                                                        • Wrist-worn device ownership peaks in 25-34-year-olds
                                                                                                                          • Figure 12: Smartwatch and fitness band/sports tracker ownership, by gender, September 2017
                                                                                                                          • Figure 13: Smartwatch ownership, by age bracket, September 2017
                                                                                                                          • Figure 14: Fitness band/sports watch ownership, by age bracket, September 2017
                                                                                                                        • Ownership of wearable cameras
                                                                                                                          • Clip-on activity trackers and heart rate monitor chest straps
                                                                                                                          • Purchasing Consideration

                                                                                                                            • Consumers consider smartwatches over fitness trackers
                                                                                                                              • Figure 15: Wearable devices that consumers are considering purchasing, September 2017
                                                                                                                            • Fitness trackers appeal to a wide age range
                                                                                                                              • Heart rate sensor accuracy is important to consumers
                                                                                                                                • Wearable cameras a popular device, but consumers don’t think their activities are worth filming
                                                                                                                                  • Smart earbuds least popular of wearable devices
                                                                                                                                    • Smartwatches and wearable cameras popular amongst those considering a single wearable device
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Proportion of users considering a wearable technology device for purchase, by the number of wearable devices selected, September 2017
                                                                                                                                  • Uses of Wearable Technology

                                                                                                                                    • Health and wellness monitoring the most popular use case
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Interest in uses of wearable technology, September 2017
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Measuring/tracking electronically and interest in measuring/tracking electronically aspects of health and lifestyles, August 2017
                                                                                                                                    • Connected home compatibility trumps sports tracking for tech enthusiasts
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Interest in possible wearable technology usage, by number of selected uses, September 2017
                                                                                                                                  • Attitudes towards Wearables

                                                                                                                                    • Smartwatches unlikely to replace mobile except in specific circumstances
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Consumer attitudes towards wearable technology, September 2017
                                                                                                                                    • The majority of consumers want ‘normal’ looking smartwatches
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 21: Preference for a smartwatch that resembles a traditional watch, by age category, September 2017
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 22: Design of the Samsung Gear s3 (left) and the Apple Watch Series 3 (Right)
                                                                                                                                    • Data collection and sharing
                                                                                                                                    • Perceived Benefits of Wearable Technology

                                                                                                                                      • Features of smartwatches aren’t attractive enough yet
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Consumer perceptions of the benefits of wearable technology, September 2017
                                                                                                                                      • Consumers are hopeful about the future of wearable technology
                                                                                                                                        • Data sharing must be approached cautiously
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                              • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Key Driver Analysis

                                                                                                                                                  • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                    • Step I. Demographic indicators:
                                                                                                                                                      • Step II. Attitudinal indicators:
                                                                                                                                                        • Interpretation of results
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Key drivers of smartwatch purchasing consideration – Key driver output, October 2017
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Key drivers of fitness band/sports watch purchasing consideration – Key driver output, October 2017
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Key drivers of smartwatch purchasing consideration, October 2017
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Key drivers of fitness band/sports watch purchasing consideration, October 2017