Knowledge Center

eMarketer: How Fancy Do Consumers Want Their Wearables?

Originally posted on

Wearable device awareness is high, but ownership—and purchase intent—remain low. Indeed, May 2015 polling by Altimeter Group found that just 7% of US internet users owned a wearable, and a March 2015 study by DigitasLBi put wearables penetration among internet users worldwide at 17%.

most desirable wearable device features

What could urge consumers to take the plunge? When April 2015 polling by Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB)—which found that six in 10 US smartphone owners were familiar to some extent with wearables—asked about the most desirable features, respondents stuck with three categories: fundamentals, health and point-of-sale payments—in other words, nothing overly fancy.

Basic features including touchscreens, GPS and water resistance were desired most. Consumers have already shown interest in using wearables to track fitness and health, so it comes as little surprise that calorie trackers, pedometers, and heart rate and blood pressure monitors were highly in demand as well.

Nearly four in 10 smartphone owners wanted mobile wallets, too, though all respondents in the pool had used a mobile wallet on their phone in the past six months, so they’re likely more interested in this than the general public. May 2015 polling by Avangate found that 29.4% of US digital buyers were comfortable purchasing products via wearable technology. On the flipside, 35.4% weren’t at all comfortable. And in April 2015 research by PowerReviews, 22% of US smartphone owners were interested in using touchless/one-click payments on wearables while shopping.

However, other research suggests consumers may not know what they want from wearables, so CMB’s results are just one example of in-demand features.

In research released in June 2015, International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated that wearable device shipments worldwide totaled 26.4 million in 2014 and forecast they would rise 173.3% this year to 72.1 million. IDC projected that in 2019, global wearables shipments would reach 155.7 million. Meanwhile, in May 2015 research, TECHnalysis Research estimated that wearable device shipments worldwide totaled 23 million last year and forecast this would hit 175 million in 2020.