NPD: Activity Trackers Lead Market, Smartwatches Gaining

While activity tracker sales are growing, the smartwatch is becoming increasingly popular with fitness focused consumers looking to monitor more advanced activities, according to The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Activity Trackers and Sports report.

The report looked at wearable technology choices among different exercise consumer groups and, while the activity tracker still leads in the majority of exercise categories, the gap is beginning to narrow.

According to NPD, runners are the first group to show a slightly higher number of smartwatch owners/users, with 22% reporting that they run on a regular basis, compared to 21% of activity tracker users.

“Activity tracker ownership continues to grow rapidly with more than double the smartwatch base,” said Eddie Hold, president, NPD Group Connected Intelligence. “While we are seeing that some forms of exercise are more likely to be impacted by the smartwatch, there are still a number of consumers that are planning to purchase activity trackers to monitor their fitness. Of folks that report they exercise several times a week, 47% are planning to purchase an activity tracker soon.”

According to NPD, as the smartwatch moves out of the early adopter phase and becomes more mainstream, the focus on fitness-related activities has grown. When asked how important health/fitness was, 17% of smartwatch users considered it a passion, as compared to 13% of activity tracker users.

“The activity tracker became the device of choice for the middle-aged consumer looking to get in better shape by starting an exercise routine. But that’s not where the story has to end,” said Hold. “Claims that the smartwatch would lead to the death of the activity tracker have so far proved unfounded. With a longer battery life, activity trackers have a strong target audience and are continuing to evolve. That said, activity tracker companies must continue to broaden their portfolios to satisfy more exercise-focused consumers, combining specialist functions with generalist capabilities.”

As products evolve to include more exercise and sports-focused capabilities, the need for additional smart sensors is on the rise, NPD noted. According to the report, one in four consumers would be interested in purchasing active wear with built-in sensors. However, price is very much a consideration as four in five of those individuals said the price would need to be not considerably higher than clothing without sensors in order to purchase.