UK Wearable Technology market report
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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Wearable Technology market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.
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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?
Covered in this report
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 (Global Positioning System) watches, wearable cameras, smart clothing, smart jewellery, and smart glasses/headsets. Although VR (Virtual Reality) headsets could be considered items of wearable technology, they are not included in the definition for this Report; rather they are covered in their own, separate Mintel Virtual Reality – UK, December 2018 Report.
- 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.
What you need to know
Ownership of smartwatches has remained static recently but the market is set for further growth, with strong intent to buy and a range of new releases from major brands. Apple launched its Series 4 Apple Watch in September 2018 with the focus firmly on health and fitness. The flagship device included an ECG (Electrocardiogram) to help monitor heart health and provide vital notifications. However, the use of the technology has as yet only been approved in the US (United States) and not the UK (United Kingdom). Besides a slightly larger watch face and smaller bezel, the rest of the upgrades to the device are fairly incremental. Samsung also released a new smartwatch in September 2018, bringing its latest device under the Galaxy brand instead of a linear successor to the Gear Watch 3. With Garmin and Fitbit also launching new smartwatches in 2018, the lines between fitness trackers and smartwatches are increasingly blurred.
Consumers re prioritising battery life and cellular service when it comes to smartwatches, with many of the functions requiring the device to be worn for long periods of time. While Samsung’s Galaxy Watch offers several days of use, the latest Apple Watch still has a relatively short battery life, requiring daily charging based on standard usage. Battery life is increasingly important due to the focus on health. Smartwatch users rate fitness tracking as the most frequent use of the device, while most people put health and wellbeing as their main interest for using wearable technology in general.
Smartwatches are still deemed too expensive by most consumers, although prices of previous generation models are beginning to come down and increased competition from network providers will help boost sales moving forward. Style and design will remain an issue however, despite launches from many fashion labels such as Armani Exchange, Skagen, and Hugo Boss. The size of smartwatch screens makes it difficult to replicate the styles of many traditional women’s watches, with many choosing to rely on fitness bands and sports watches as supplementary items. This does bode well for the smart jewellery market, with products such as the Oura ring being able to offer health tracking in a more subtle and stylish form. However, intent to buy wearable technology across the watch, clothing, headphone, and jewellery markets is still higher among men.
Expert analysis from a specialist in the field
Written by Adrian Reynolds, a leading analyst in the Technology sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.
Smartwatch sales are beginning to overtake those of fitness bands and sports watches as lines between the devices blur. Consumers are seeing real health benefits in the data collection and analysis such devices can provide, with many motivated to exercise more. While wearable technology brands continue to innovative across the jewellery, clothing and headphone markets, smartwatches will remain the primary focus, driven by annual launches from the major smartphone manufacturers
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