As of March 2016, more than one in ten consumers in the US own either a fitness band or smartwatch (12.2%), nearly double the penetration in the EU4 (6.6%), according to the inaugural release of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s Wearable service. Europe’s big four markets (EU4) include Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy.
Fitness bands dominate the US market, with three out of four “wrist wearable” devices owned falling in this category.
“For both smartwatch and fitness band buyers — brand, ease of use, and functionality are the top drivers of purchase, outweighing both design and cost,” Shannon Conway, wearable tech analyst for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said in a statement. “Fitbit established itself as an early market leader, capturing 61.7% of the US installed base by communicating a clear and simple value proposition to consumers. Apple accounts for 6.8% of the total number of fitness bands and smartwatches owned in the US.”
Of the combined fitness band and smartwatch base, Fitbit remains the most-owned brand at 18.5%, but Apple and Samsung follow closely with 14% and 11.6%, respectively.
Despite the rise of smartwatches, fitness bands have yet to show signs of wavering popularity among recent US-based owners. Gifting plays a larger role for the less expensive fitness bands, 43.1% vs. 33.3% for smartwatches in the US; but, smartwatches are well-positioned to threaten timepiece watches, with 31.9% of all smartwatches and 43% of Apple Watches replacing a traditional watch.
In EU4, the battle with traditional watches intensifies, with 39% of all smartwatches purchased to replace a timepiece, increasing to 49.6% among Apple and 41.5% for Samsung. Great Britain most closely mirrors the US market, with a slight majority of fitness trackers (54.3%) over smartwatches (45.7%).
Another recent study, conducted by Tractica, suggests that wearable device shipments will hit 560 million units annually by 2021.