Kantar Worldpanel has released its first-ever quarterly report on the state of the smart wearables market in the U.S. and the four largest economies in the European Union – Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. One of the interesting findings of the study is that as of March, 2016, around 12.2% of Americans own either a fitness band or a smartwatch, as opposed to just 6.6% of the combined population of the four aforementioned European countries. However, even as more Americans are opting to try out smart wearables, most of them seem to be testing the waters with fitness bands, which are comparatively less expensive than smartwatches. That being the case, prominent fitness tracker vendor, Fitbit, is the largest smart wearable vendor in the U.S., while fancied competitors like Apple languish with single-digit market share.
Fitness bands continue to be more popular than smartwatches among U.S. consumers, even as the later come with more advanced health, fitness and communication capabilities. According to Ms. Shannon Conway, wearable tech analyst for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, it is likely that the “value proposition” presented by smart wristbands is what’s responsible for their growing popularity. Speaking on the agency’s findings, she said, “For both smartwatch and fitness band buyers – brand, ease of use, and functionality are the top drivers of purchase, outweighing both design and cost”. Fitbit leads the US market with a whopping 61.7% market share, which is understandable, as the company’s Charge HR was one of the best-reviewed wearables from last year. Trying to explain the overwhelming success of Fitbit where many others have failed, Ms. Conway pointed out that the company has been able to establish itself at the top of the heap thanks to the “clear and simple value proposition” it represents.
Meanwhile, the Apple Watch only accounts for about 6.8% of the American smart wearables market currently. That isn’t so surprising seeing as only 22.9% of the U.S. smart wearables market belongs to smartwatches with the rest taken up by more pocket-friendly fitness bands. What’s interesting is how different the European market is from the American one at these early stages of the expected smart wearables revolution. While the U..S has a larger share of its population adopting smart wearables, most Americans seem to prefer cost-effective fitness brands over more expensive smartwatches. Over in Europe, however, the lion’s share of the market – 55.2% to be precise – belongs to smartwatches, although, Fitbit continues to rule the roost with 18.5% market share. Apple and Samsung come in at numbers two and three with 14% and 11.6% market share respectively. Meanwhile, in the UK, 54.3% of all wearables sold during Q1, 2016 were fitness trackers while the rest were smartwatches.