4 million smartwatches and fitness bands sold in 2017

Whether to measure their steps, monitor their workouts or make mobile payments, British consumers are increasingly joining the smartwatch and fitness band movement.

According to a new report from Mintel, their rising popularity helped drive sales of smartwatches and fitness bands to an estimated four million devices in the UK in 2017, up 18% on the previous year.

Fitness trackers are still dominating over smartwatches, but the gap is closing with the smartwatch sector experiencing a greater sales growth (up 26%) than the activity band space (up 16%) in 2016.

Now, more Brits (32%) would consider purchasing a smartwatch than a fitness band (29%) and just 19% of those surveyed would be interested in combining fashion and technology with smart jewellery. Interestingly, also 19% of consumers are interested in smart clothing, said the report.

The decline in fitness trackers coincides with news at the end of last year that Adidas will stop making wearable devices to focus instead on its apps.

“Fitness tracker growth is estimated to have slowed as consumers begin to demand more functionality from their devices. In contrast, smartwatch sales are estimated to have grown in part due to the entry of fashion brands into the smartwatch market. Looking ahead, smartwatch ownership is likely to overtake basic fitness trackers,” commented Andrew Moss, Technology Analyst at Mintel.



That doesn’t mean consumers are done tracking their steps. In fact, 38% of consumers are interested in using wearable tech for health and wellness tracking, followed by 27% for sports and training monitoring. Meanwhile, 21% would like to use them for security and access control, and 19% for mobile payments.

Notably, 38% of parents of under-16s are interested in devices which monitor and track kids, including location and sleep monitoring.

But whilst Brits are increasingly relying on smartwatches and fitness bands, only 28% of consumers would leave their smartphone at home if a wearable device could offer the same functionality, such as calls, messaging, music and websearch. The younger generation is more prepared to forego their smartphone, with 36% of 16-24-year-olds and 40% of 25-34-year-olds saying they would take a good smartwatch instead.

“Whether consumers will actually leave their phone at home whilst out and about remains to be seen. Smartphones are now more commonly used than desktop or laptop computers for many digital activities, so connected smartwatches must seamlessly offer the smartphone functions most important to consumers,” said Moss.

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