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Fitbit, Apple Tops in Wearables

February 17, 2017 By Steve Senne in

Fitness trackers have been proving themselves to be popular among smartphone users, and a bright spot in what has otherwise been slower than anticipated consumer uptake and use of connected wearables. When it comes to wearable brand recognition, Fitbit and Apple are ahead of the pack, according to new research from ReportLinker.                  

Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed by ReportLinker said they had a tracker app of one sort or another on their smartphones. Mentioned by 21 percent of respondents, health apps were the most popular. Sport trackers and weight loss apps followed: 11 percent mentioned each. The latter was particularly popular among women, who mentioned them 16 percent of the time.

Wearable Brand Recognition

In ReportLinker’s research, Americans mentioned Fitbit 47 percent of the time without any suggestions or assistance, according to ReportLinker’s report. That rose to 78 percent overall when aid was provided. The corresponding figures for Apple were 15 percent and 73 percent, respectively. 

As you might expect, overall percentages were higher among young adult Millennials. No figures were provided for Fitbit, but the overall percentage of Millennial generation survey respondents who mentioned Apple as a connected wearables vendor came in at 80 percent.

Similarly, just 4 percent of the all respondents mentioned Nike as a wearables brand when unaided. That rose to 39 percent with aid. Among Millennials, the corresponding figure was 51 percent.

Nike ran third to Fitbit and Apple, according to ReportLinker’s survey. Samsung and Garmin followed, tying for fourth place with overall brand recognition percentages of 33 percent.

Rounding out the top six wearables brands in terms of consumer recognition were LG (18% overall) and Sony (15%).

More broadly, 57 percent of survey respondents said they were familiar with wearable trackers – 36 percent somewhat so and 21 percent very familiar.

Four in 10 (41%) said they own a fitness tracker. That falls in line with sales data, which reveals that fitness trackers appear to be outselling smartwatches almost 2:1. In ReportLinker’s survey, 26 percent of respondents mentioned fitness trackers as compared to 12 percent for smart watches.

In terms of brands, 77 percent said they own a Fitbit or Apple fitness tracker. More than half said they own a Fitbit while 1 in 4 said they own an Apple Watch.

Illustrating the dominant positions that Fitbit and Apple Watch hold in their respective connected wearable market niches, 61 percent of smart watch owners said they own an Apple Watch. Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) of fitness tracker owners said they use a Fitbit device.

Intent to Purchase

All that said, it appears that Fitbit, Apple and all the others vying to gain a large slice of the connected wearables market pie have their work cut out for them. Less than 40 percent of respondents who said they don’t own any such device said they would be interested in buying either a fitness tracker or a smart watch.

Some respondents explained that they simply didn’t see the need to buy a wearable device – 60 percent as it turns out. Another 20 percent said smartphone apps provided all the health-related features they needed.

According to the U.S. Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the popularity of fitness activity trackers will help boost unit sales of all wearables to nearly 48 million units in 2016, a projected year-over-year gain of 39 percent.

Fitness activity tracker volumes will total 28 million units in 2016 – a 60 percent increase from 2015 – with revenues reaching $2.2 billion, up 62 percent annually, CTA forecast in July.

In contrast, CTA said smartwatch unit sales growth was slowing after posting a strong gain in 2016. Smart watch revenue, the industry association added, would decline on an annual basis for the first time. 2016 smart watch unit sales would increase 15 percent above 2015’s level to 12.2 million, but revenue would drop to $2.8 billion in revenue, down 8 percent from 2015, according to CTA.