Check out your wish lists from your friends and family, and there’s a good chance you might see one item appearing over and over. It might even be on your list as well: Fitness trackers are on the rise heading into the holiday season.
The wearables market increased by 3.1 percent in the past quarter, with 85 percent of those sales from fitness trackers. Popular brands like Fitbit and Polar have capitalized on the emerging market with trackers ranging from pedometers to heart-rate monitors.
The most popular form of these wearables is the simple fitness tracker. Smartwatches, on the other hand, have experienced more of a decline than industry experts expected.
While fitness trackers grew by double digits in Q3, smartwatch sales took a dive. The most popular wearable this year, the Fitbit Flex, is a small, simple band with basic step and sleep-tracking functionality. This fitness tracker sells for $100 in most retail stores, making it one of the more affordable and accessible in the market.
The simplicity of these wearables may actually be their most desirable factor. While smartwatches can connect with third-party apps to display notifications, phone calls and texts, the larger screens and tech-driven design is less likely to be worn than their sleeker, smaller counterparts.
In addition, the fitness industry has grown exponentially in recent years, leading to a wider consumer base. The community aspect and reward system of these fitness wearables is a driving factor as well, as friends and coworkers can compete in step-counting contests and achieve badges or prizes for their efforts.
Smartwatches, although expected by some to be a rising market, saw a decline in product shipments by over 50 percent. While this may be due to limited availability or smaller product launches, the drop in sales is still significant. That being said, smartwatches are still viewed as a viable option in the wearables market. Experts are reluctant to rule it out, even though the number of fitness tracker product shipments continues to rise.
One of the more recognizable smartwatches is the Apple Watch, and there have been recent reports of slumping sales. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook disputes those reports and expects to set records during the holidays.
The ease of use and the widespread accessibility of fitness trackers are also strong reasons for their success. Sold in stores across the country, these wearables can be found at almost every large retailer, such as Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s.
Kantar Worldpanel found that while only 12.2 percent of US consumers currently wear a wearable, 75 percent of those people are wearing fitness trackers as their wearable accessory. Fitbit dominates this market with 51.4 percent of market sales and has established its brand as an industry leader. The International Data Corp. expects Fitbit to continue as the leader of fitness trackers and wearables, even though other brands are emerging with new products and affordable choices.
Meanwhile, the holidays are likely to bring an even bigger boost to wearable sales, as these fitness trackers make popular gifts. Although they may not actually help with long-term weight loss, they will likely continue to cultivate a strong following from the fitness consumer base.