Are wearables just for the kids?

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Jul 19, 2016
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Jeff Berry, Editor-in-Chief of COLLOQUY and Senior Director of Research and Development at LoyaltyOne

Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of a study from COLLOQUY, provider of loyalty-marketing publishing, education and research since 1990.

A COLLOQUY survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found 58 percent saying they would like to use a wearable device, but felt that they were too old.

The finding was one in the study, “Weighing in on Wearables,” that showed that the jury is still out on just how far consumers are willing to follow the wearable technology trend.

Indeed, the survey showed mixed signals in how influential the style has become. Encouragingly, 33 percent said wearable devices make a fashion-forward statement. More than a third, 35 percent, find people who use wearables nerdy — but “cool nerdy.”

On the other hand, 35 percent said people who use wearables are just trying to show off, 22 percent said those who use wearables seem to be obsessed with technology, and 21 percent felt wearing the technology all day, every day “is just too much.”

From a functional standpoint, however, older generations appear to value wearables more. Those 36 and older, for example, were twice as likely as Millennials to use their wearable device if it helps them measure themselves against others in reaching a specific goal. Again, though, a full 61 percent of people who would buy a wearable for health and fitness reasons, for example, said they consider themselves too old for the technology.

Overall, simple awareness remains a major hurdle. Just over one out of every two Americans, 52 percent, say they don’t know enough about wearables and don’t understand them.

Most, however, are pretty familiar with Fitbit and or other interactive health and fitness wristbands, and have more recently learned about smartwatches. But wearables are popping up everywhere with new functions being tested constantly.

Nevertheless, only 18 percent of those surveyed find “the functions (wearables) offer are not something I would use.” People apparently see the benefit, but more education is needed. In fact, those who were shown how a product is used, through a demonstration, video or the like, were found to be twice as likely to be highly engaged with their wearable devices — 41 percent engagement, up from 20 percent.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think growth in the wearables market will be driven more by function or fashion? What will it take to sell older generations on wearables along with younger ones?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"We are living in a time in which age is but a number and it is the individual that decides what is too old or too childish."
"Old, smold! Boomers don’t wear wearables because they don’t fit into the fashion statement we were brought up with."
"Wearable use will be driven by function. Fashion changes quickly but function is everlasting."

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15 Comments on "Are wearables just for the kids?"


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Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Remember when Boomers were considered “too old” to use Facebook? Now they have invaded Instagram and their children/grandchildren are complaining that they have no place left to hide online! Wearables are perhaps a bit different in that they require the adaptation and display of a visible device — something that makes a much more public statement than our online proclivities. But if my 50-something spouse is any beacon of the future, she has been using her MotoActiv for over five years now, we will adapt — as always.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Among the older generations the adoption of wearables will be driven mostly by function, but some small percentage in that same demographic still want to be with the times and they will see wearables as a functional fashion statement. We are living in a time in which age is but a number and it is the individual that decides what is too old or too childish. I bet that most twenty-somethings can’t dance the cha-cha-cha as well as most 70-year-olds.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Make no mistake, wearables are transforming healthcare and extending far beyond fitness trackers. I do not believe this to be a fad that will be casually adopted by a handful of demographic segments.

Even the FDA is seeing the viability of these advancements through its Center for Devices and Radiological Health currently examining the convergence of medical devices with connectivity and consumer technology. Just days ago the FDA approved a new drug delivery wearable for delivery of a monthly dose of a cholesterol-lowering drug, Repatha®.

The ubiquity of wearables will be rapid, transformative and far-reaching.

Robert DiPietro
Guest

Wearable use will be driven by function. Fashion changes quickly but function is everlasting. Age isn’t a factor in function for wearables but education is a factor. No difference than using portable GPS a while back or setting up a personal email. As the useful function can be explained and demonstrated age adoption will follow.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Old, smold! Boomers don’t wear wearables because they don’t fit into the fashion statement we were brought up with. You don’t wear a clunky watch after the age of five. There are clothes for different events and the clunky watch that measures your workout goes only with your workout clothes. But many of us can’t afford to keep separate outfits anymore so the clunky watch doesn’t get bought.

As more and more areas find ways to provide services through wearables, like the fitness industry has, more and more folks will be wearing them.

I will bet my 2 cents on that!

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

A wearable isn’t about fashion and cool. Sometimes it’s about function. Philips Lifeline — the wearable where the elderly person says, “I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up!” is a matter of function, not fashion. People are sporting wearables to monitor their heart rate and pulse, remind them when to take medicine and more. That’s just for the healthcare industry. The function of wearables is in its infancy. There will always be a cool watch, ring, bracelet, etc. that is just cool to have. But that won’t sustain the industry. It will be function over fashion and, personally, I’m excited about what’s coming soon.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

That was Steve Urkel in Family Matters …

Roger Saunders
Guest
Millennials are addressing the question of the usage of wearable technology in a fashion sense, as they are already more likely to have an appreciation of the function. Younger Boomers (born between 1956 and 1964) are more attuned to the function. And both segments of the population have to be educated and persuaded as to the value they will receive from wearable technology. Based on the Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Survey, Millennials have the greater curiosity in regards to these devices. When asked their level of interest about wearables on a scale of one to five, of the 1887 Millennials surveyed in April, 45.2 percent expressed somewhat/very interested in activity trackers, 37.7 percent felt that way about smartwatches, 31 percent were had interest in action camcorders, 28.8 percent of them were keen on healthcare devices and 26.1 percent had an interest in wearables for pets. Younger Boomers (sample size of 1049) need to be educated on the value — that is likely going to come from function. While 22.7 percent of younger Boomers… Read more »
Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Most wearables are more like luggables since they still require a mobile phone to truly be efficient. As the mobile world becomes fully focused on our smartphones, the better question might be why do you need a wearable when your phone does everything which your wearable does and more? This is why wearables haven’t been the success they were supposed to be over the last three years.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Fashion has a short lifespan. Function will drive lasting adoption. Currently, if I have to have a phone to fully utilize my watch, why do I need the watch? Just gimme the darn phone. For the young or the old, function rules the game.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Strategy Architect – Digital Place-based Media
2 years 11 months ago

The Personal Information Device, ideally wearable or at least handy while we navigate our world has just been barely born compared to what the current generation will use in our lifetime. Is the mobile phone (our third arm) handy? NO. Does it add to our on-location experience? Yes, it can and does. Do the ever-present earbuds increase our pleasure? Yes. Is audio exploited for on-location experience? No, hardly. Can eyeglasses with heads-up display add to our experience? Yes, so let’s improve the form factor. Iris and galvanic response detectors which trigger messaging … now that is shopper engagement.

When we want product information on our path to purchase, and it is of greatest influence to convert us at the point of purchase, wearable technologies will increasingly serve our purpose and that of brands. Most people will take mobile connectivity and data storage in the most convenient form-factor every time. Wearables make sense.

Naomi Shapiro
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

Function rules the game, as Ralph Jacobson and others already states. I’d like to add another “f” to the list — “Follow.” After we older persons see enough young people using the devices (as we did with iPhone, Facebook, etc., etc.), we will follow and adopt and use them. It has nothing to do with fashion, a lot to do with function, and finally adoption without looking back has to do with “following.”

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest

Whoever says wearables are only for the young is obviously missing an important cultural shift. I know a highly respected trauma surgeon who swears it keeps him in contact with his patients, here and abroad. If wearables are mostly worn for frivolous purposes, it is because more serious apps have yet to be developed … but they will.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

If function were the ONLY important thing, we would have all been wearing Timex digital watches when they came out. After all, they were more accurate from a technical perspective plus had nifty alarms built in! Fashion does play a part in the wearable equation — many of the wearables morph from a basic functional aesthetic (think the original Pebble) to something mixed with a bit more fashion (like Pebble Steel). But clearly it is a mix of both (and perhaps someday getting beyond having to be tethered to a phone).

Arie Shpanya
Guest

A bit both of both but primarily function. The key to growing adoption (regardless if it’s among older generations or younger ones) is education — age is less relevant in the long run. I think if the value and use cases are communicated better to the general public, adoption with rise across the generations.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"We are living in a time in which age is but a number and it is the individual that decides what is too old or too childish."
"Old, smold! Boomers don’t wear wearables because they don’t fit into the fashion statement we were brought up with."
"Wearable use will be driven by function. Fashion changes quickly but function is everlasting."

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