Amid the maturation of the consumer wearables market, demand for its products saw a peak this past January but has since experienced a slowing of that growth. Consumer expectations are pushing the market far, and not all companies in the field may be ready to keep pace with their ideals.
According a recent report from Argus Insights, the last 18 months for the market have seen a lot of changes. In January 2013, consumers reportedly lost some interest in wearable devices, but found their verve once again in the 2014 holiday season. Sales reached their peak in January 2015, and subsequently dropped as they had done a year earlier.
Many newcomers to the field, however, are trying to get consumers interested once again. First, it was the initial announcement of the Apple (News - Alert) Watch that really captured attention in September 2014. Then Fitbit was able to capitalize on waning public interest in the Apple device upon the release of the smartwatch’s specifications. The two brands have engaged in a trade of sorts where interest in devices has fluctuated alongside their immediate antithesis regarding consumer satisfaction.
Put plainly, Argus found that Fitbit gained a lot of consumer interest in its products but lost some satisfaction. On the other hand, Apple may have lost prospective customer interest, but it gained current customer happiness. John Feland, the CEO and founder of Argus, commented that this trend has arisen from changing consumer preferences which now expects wearables to do more than just count steps.
“Our analysis of review volume for the wearables market correlates directly with unit sales volume, and we have seen a significant slowing in consumer demand for both wearables in general and fitness bands in particular,” Feland said. “Consumers expect their wearables to do more than simply count steps, just as they expect to do more than just make phone calls with their handsets. It is clear that as the Apple Watch, the Moto 360, and the LG Watch Urbane outperform fitness bands in the hearts of consumers. Fitbit and others in this category will need to add more to their offerings to keep consumers engaged and coming back for more.”
Consumers are finding that the Apple Watch and similar advanced products can deliver more than just basic fitness statistics. They can connect to smartphones, deliver notifications from social media, and even make calls as part of voice commands. Wearables have definitely come a long way, and consumers are pushing the envelope with their desires.
The next generation of devices will have to do everything under the sun to remain relevant. This could be the biggest challenge yet for fitness-focused companies such as Fitbit, because they will want to keep brand identity consistent while also doubling down the efforts that Apple and others are making. Not every smartwatch or fitness band can be everything to all people, but consumer expectation may drive companies to try to achieve exactly that.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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