The Prospects for Indian Wearable Market
The biggest hurdle for wearable providers is to overcome consumer perception as the devices do not offer a compelling value proposition
The Indian wearable market is emerging extensively with new trends and innovations every year but experiences a back foot in strengthening a position amid the costumers. Many companies entered into this arena in the recent years whilst the usage of these gadgets devices seems limited. People have started abandoning these devices and categorizing them as not-so-useful and boring devices.
In a recent survey by Gartner, the abandon rate for smartwatch is 29% and a fitness tracker is 30%. The main reason for this phase of abandonment is said to be the experience of using apps on wrist-mounted devices as they normally don’t live up to the expectation and instead feel more like an imposition. In order to be more useful, smartwatch should provide more compelling value and have a distinct usage from smartphones.
The 2016 Gartner Personal Technologies Study surveyed 9,592 online respondents from Australia, U.S and U.K between June and August. The surveyor asked respondents about their attitude towards wearables and studied their buying behavior for smartwatches, fitness trackers and Virtual Reality (VR) glasses to gain a better understanding of customers. As per the results, the abandon rate is much higher than the usage rate.
According to the survey, the adoption of smartwatch is still in the early stages (10%) whereas fitness tracker has reached early mainstream (19%) and only 8% customers have used VR glasses. The survey found that people mainly buy these wearable devices for their personal use in which 26% of smartwatch and 34% of fitness tracker are received as gifts.
“Continued growth in the adoption of smartwatches and fitness trackers will now be from mainstream customers instead of early technology adopters,” said Angela Mclntyre, Research Director at Gartner. “The greatest hurdle for fitness tracker and smartwatch providers is to overcome customer perception that the devices do not offer a compelling enough value proposition.”
Customers believe that the prices of such devices are too high, given the usefulness. According to Gartner, it would be difficult for the wearable providers who do not have a strong brand name to compete with the wellknown brands. It is advisable to lower the margin and provide the alternative price lower than top brands and at the same time maintain quality. Wearable makers need to engage with the customers and provide innovation as well as gamification.
Customers are also not very happy with the designs of wearable devices. 29% respondents find fitness trackers unappealing as these devices are neither fashionable nor attractive. Gartner recommends the wearable providers to partner with other companies that designs, market and distribute watches and fashion accessories as they have an ample experience in this domain.
“More fitness trackers will be sold as replacement devices rather than first-time purchases from now until the middle of 2017,” said Mikako Kitagawa, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner. “It is important for providers to market low-priced fitness trackers to the elder user segments, especially to older women.” Smartwatch usage is clearly higher among people 44 years old and younger. More than half of people who use a smartwatch (58%) use it every day, and those who don’t (33%) use it at least several times a week.
Among the different countries, U.S leads the smartwatch market by 12% followed by U.K with 9% and Australia by 7%. The survey also suggested that young people tend to think that a smartphone can do everything they need and potential costumers (aged around 45 years) believe that these devices are too expensive for the value.
Though wearable market is still considered to be in its initial years of industry branding, it is expected to gain a lot of potential customers with new and attractive marketing as well as operational strategies. These devices can be enhanced, optimized and tweaked to become a new wave of growth for wearable tech companies.
The bottom line here too is that if we can use technology to gain health and cut down on medical expenses, it is a step in the right direction. The money saved on medical care worldwide can be channelized towards food for the poor. A healthy humanity is a better bet for all spheres of life and can enhance the quality of life. So if smartwatches and fitness trackers become more user-friendly and appealing to the aesthetics, their sales could trigger a health wave and in return help raise the quality of life.