In the early years of wearables, most growth occurred in the low-priced fitness tracker market. More recently, devices such as smartwatches, hearables, smart clothing and a new generation of smart glasses are gaining share and attracting new audiences.
What is the size of the wearables market? Roughly a quarter of US adults, 56.7 million, will use a wearable device at least once a month in 2019. Just over half of those will use a smartwatch. An additional 3.8 million US children and teens will have a wearable device.
Who’s buying wearables and why? Wearables have appealed mostly to younger people. In 2015, 24.0% of those ages 25 to 34 had a wearable device, while 6.5% of those ages 55 to 64 had one. In 2019, young consumers will still be the largest group of wearable users, with penetration among the 25-to-34 cohort jumping to 38.0%. But user penetration for the older consumers will also increase substantially to 13.2%. Apple clearly has an eye on the older age groups with the health features in its latest Apple Watch.
Which types of wearables are expected to have a strong 2019? Shipments of smartwatches should grow strong, while sales of simpler fitness trackers will stagnate. We estimate that about half of adult wearable users (50.6%) regularly wear a smartwatch. At the same time, hearables may be one of the biggest growth areas beyond smartwatches.
How should marketers think about wearables? Advertising on wearables is still rare, but using the devices to enhance branded experiences makes sense. Companies as varied as American Express, Walgreens and Nike use wearables to enhance their brand message, either as a sponsor of an experience or event, or as a way to display brand values.
WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report presents our wearables forecast and puts it in context of broader consumer trends in the wearable tech sector.
KEY STAT: Growth in the number of users of wearables is moderate.