Consumer interest in purchasing wearable fitness devices quadruples

Consumer interest in purchasing dedicated wearable fitness devices in the next 12 months quadrupled to 13 percent in 2013, from just three percent in 2012, making it the largest year-over-year increase for any category of fitness device, according to new research announced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Among consumers who indicate they plan to purchase a fitness technology product within the next year, the most desired products are dedicated wearable fitness devices, fitness apps, fitness video games and calorie trackers, all at 13 percent. Potential buyers of fitness technology devices expressed the most interest in capabilities such as tracking statistics like heart rate (95 percent), calories burned (94 percent) and steps taken (92 percent).

The results were based on both a quantitative Internet survey conducted among an online national sample of 1,006 U.S. adults, ages 18 and over, and qualitative one-on-one interviews conducted among 41 targeted online consumers.

CEA projects strong growth in the fitness and activity tracking devices market with U.S. shipment revenues estimated to reach $854 million in 2013, an increase of 32 percent over last year. In addition, the association predicts revenue to surpass $1 billion in 2014, a 37 percent increase over 2013.

According to CEA, dedicated wearable fitness devices tripled in ownership from 2012 (3 percent) to 2013 (9 percent). Moreover, the group found that these devices experienced the largest gain in purchase intent (10 percentage points) compared to 2012, more than quadrupling from three percent in 2012.

During 2012, wearable wireless sports and wireless vendors, such as Polar, Garmin, Nike, and Adidas, expanded their sensor offerings, and a host of start-ups came to market with their own new products. For instance, San Francisco-based startup Misfit Wearables is poised to make a dent in the fitness app marketplace with Shine, touted as one of the world's thinnest wireless activity trackers.

"The top three reasons people gave for using their wearable fitness devices include motivation (52 percent), monitoring fitness goal progress (47 percent) and monitoring physical activity levels or intensity (46 percent)," stated the announcement. "Owners of dedicated wearable fitness devices and sleep trackers are most likely to use their products on a daily basis (47 percent) compared to other fitness technology products."

Three quarters of online U.S. consumers (75 percent) now say they own a fitness technology product, up from 61 percent in 2012. 

The most important features found in a smart watch among potential buyers were fitness-focused, including health monitoring (91 percent), peak performance monitoring (90 percent) and providing workout routines (82 percent).

In June, a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers by market research firm ON World found that 40 percent of respondents were interested in purchasing a smart watch. Of those interested in smart watches, 30 percent would most like to use their smart watch for fitness, and 18 percent would use the device primarily for health applications. Twenty-nine percent of smart watch users likely would use the watch for activity tracking.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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