US consumers’ appetite for wearables continued to grow steadily heading into the 2016 holiday season, but smartwatches are failing to gain traction.
Nearly 16% of consumers in the United States owned a smartwatch or fitness band as of December according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Within the smartwatch category, adoption in the US remained low at 4.2%.
Wearables penetration in the EU4 (Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy) continued to lag at 9.2%, with the smartwatch portion of the category at 3.8%.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, just 35% of wearables purchased in the US were smartwatches, a decline from 40% in the third quarter of 2016. Apple was the top smartwatch brand in the US, capturing a 50% share vs. 24% in the third quarter of 2016. The next nearest competitor was Samsung at 17.4%, while the remainder of the market was fragmented among smaller suppliers.
Fitbit further advanced its dominance of the fitness band category, claiming 75% of sales, up from 43% of sales in the third quarter of 2016.
Garmin, its nearest competitor, captured a 12.5% share. Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were a big driver for Fitbit, with nearly all models discounted by $20 to $30, depending on the retailer. The FitBit Charge 2, released in mid-September 2016, was the top fitness band at 27%.
Manufacturers have struggled to convince consumers to purchase wearables, once considered the next big thing in tech. Among non-owners surveyed in December, just 8% planned to a wearable device in the next 12 months. Price remains the largest barrier followed by concerns over how useful the devices actually are.
For some vendors, this market weakness has had consequences, with Lenovo’s Moto and Microsoft both announcing in late 2016 that they would stop production of their wearables. Jawbone ceased production in May 2016, and early-riser Pebble was acquired by Fitbit. The Vector Watch software platform and team were also snapped up by Fitbit at the end of the year.
Source: Kantar Worldpanel