Are wearables on the way out?
With the success of FitBit and the advent of the Apple Watch, the tech press seems to have taken it as a foregone conclusion that wearable devices are on their way to the same ubiquity as the smartphone before them. But retailers might want to be wary about adopting this conventional wisdom. According to a new study, wearables aren’t trending upwards in popularity the way they were just a year ago.
The rate at which consumers are using wearables is down seven percent from it was last year, according to a new study by Forrester Research, cited by MediaPost. The study, which polled 60,000 adults in the U.S. and 6,000 in Canada, noted that while 35 percent of the biggest segment of wearable users, 28 to 36 year olds, used a wearable last year, only 28 percent reported using one this year. The next younger generation down reported an even greater drop.
The study drives home the fact that no one can really determine the lifecycle of a given device’s popularity. The wearable world has already seen its share of devices that were expected to be big but didn’t quite make the cut with consumers. Most notably Google Glass, which despite the name behind it and the promise of an Augmented Reality experience that fully integrated web usage with daily activity, ended up more of a joke than a must-have piece of technology.
Given the study’s findings, it is not out of the realm of possibility that wearables have reached a saturation point or that certain demographics are finding them less useful than they once did. That’s not to say, though, that wearables are over. Even if the dip in usage by younger users continues and isn’t a one-time anomaly, the Forrester study indicates, according to MediaPost, that users older than 36 are actually using wearables more than in the recent past.
While it has seemed obvious that wearable technology should be aimed at more tech-savvy, younger generations, it might benefit both brands and retailers to give more thought to how wearable technology can address the unique needs of an aging population.
- U.S. Consumer Wearables Usage Drops 21% To 14% Since Last Year – MediaPost
- Announcing Our Annual Benchmark On The State Of US Consumers And Technology In 2016 – Forrester Research
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have retailers and brands overemphasized the importance of wearable technology? How seriously should retailers entertain the notion that wearables will be more popular for older people than younger people as the technology progresses?