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Digital Execs Questioned by AnswerLab See Wearable Devices Reaching Mass Market Adoption in the Next 36 Months

Survey Hints Marketplace Might Not Be Optimally Prepared for
Expected Popularity of Wearables

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – March 6, 2014  An overwhelming majority (89%) of digital executives questioned by AnswerLab, the leading digital insights company, believe that Wearables – those futuristic devices beginning to adorn the wrists and spectacles of some early tech adopters – will gain mass-market adoption in the next three years.  And, while more than half (52%) of that same group saw relevant applications for wearable devices in their own business in the same time period, only 27% said their companies were integrating wearables in the short-term, underscoring a need for a range of industries to better prepare for how wearables could impact their own businesses.

Devices thought to have the most staying power were led by fitness monitors, with 89% of those questioned pointing to Nike+ FuelBand and FitBit Flex (78%) as most likely to gain mass market traction.  In addition, 67% of participants envisioned Google Glass as gaining broad adoption, followed by The Samsung Smartwatch (41%).

In the survey, AnswerLab queried digital executives who are driving product development, marketing and research at companies – ranging from well-known Fortune 500 brands to start ups – about the future for wearables (defined in the query as “always-on, sensor-based or interactive digital devices” that some early adopters of technology are beginning to make part of their everyday lives).

“Many top digital business minds seem to agree:  wearables are quickly evolving from a niche to mass market.  Whether they’re designed as bracelets or eyewear, these devices are a major trend to watch and something to inform future digital plans,” said AnswerLab CEO Amy Buckner Chowdhry.  “But as we listen to the marketplace, it appears there is a big gap in what businesses see as a growth category versus actual investment in a strategy to meet demand or opportunities provided by what is expected to be a boom in wearables.  Ultimately, the devices that offer the best customer experience will win hearts, minds and dollars.   With broader market penetration right around the corner, it’s time for businesses to develop strategies that anticipate and support the wearables market.  We’re excited to be working with clients to help them offer the best possible customer experience in applications for wearable concepts, both for consumer-facing products as well as for driving more efficient business operations.”

More than half of the executives (52%) who participated believe that wearables will be relevant to their own business within a 3 year time frame. Respondents felt that wearables have the most potential in the Fitness (96%), Medical (85%), Gaming (56%), Entertainment (56%), and Lifestyle (52%) arenas.  But only 27% were aware of plans to integrate wearables into their own businesses.

Those surveyed cited key benefits of applying wearable device technology for their ease of use and their ability to gather and transfer delivery of data between user and device.  Respondents had the following to say about the potential benefits of wearables:

  • “It becomes a part of the normal routine of a person, rather than something “extra” they put on for a special occasion.”
  • “ Wearables can also help to recover from pain/injury by allowing more accurate diagnosis of conditions, and monitoring progress in returning to health.”
  • “Continuous interaction with decreasing interference of outside forces.”
  • “[Makes it]… easier to set goals and track progress against them.”
  • “…wearables allow a continuous, passive interaction between the system and the end user.  This passivity is great for medical and biometric data. “
  • “…these devices will allow for a more immersive experience and will stimulate new frontiers in game design.”

According to those questioned, current challenges in the wearable category today include the need to improve battery life, a high price point, data accuracy and addressing consumer concern about privacy and security,”

  • “..how many will a user want to wear at a time? Eventually the different technologies should be combined into one.”
  • “’creepy’ factor of collecting/storing/using one’s very personal data.”
  • “They are often clunky, and unattractive. Also, using the displays for very complex activities (communications, creating content and publishing to the Internet) they are not ideal. Wearables are better for collecting and transmitting information automatically.”

More details about the survey are available in this blog post.

How The Survey Was Conducted

The findings are based on an online survey conducted last month of senior-level professionals who are directly involved in the strategy, design, development or marketing of digital products or services.  AnswerLab promoted the survey to its database of digital experience professionals.

About AnswerLab

AnswerLab delivers trusted customer insights that help the world’s leading brands build outstanding digital products and services. The company focuses exclusively on user experience research to understand what people see, do, think and feel when using web sites, mobile applications, and other digital products. AnswerLab’s clients depend on their recommendations about product concepts, features, design and messaging to create more engaging digital experiences that drive results. Global market leaders select AnswerLab as their user experience research partner, including PayPal, Facebook, Amazon.com, Walmart, Honda, Microsoft, Intuit, ESPN, FedEx, Genentech, eBay, and Harley Davidson. For more information about AnswerLab, please visit http://www.answerlab.com.