Global views vary on smartwatches

14 October 2014

NUREMBERG: Chinese and American consumers are far more open than their British and German counterparts to the functional possibilities offered by smartwatches, according to a new survey conducted in five countries.

The Chinese, in particular, see value in using smartwatches to transmit healthcare data, as travel tickets, online identification, identity cards, and payment systems. But consumers in Germany and the UK are the most sceptical about all these functions.

These are among the key findings uncovered by GfK, the global research agency, which questioned 5,000 smartphone owners – 1,000 in each market – in China, Germany, South Korea, the UK and the US.

Nearly half of those surveyed would be interested in using smartwatches to send personal healthcare data to doctors, but this ranges from 69% in China to just 25% in Germany.

This compares with half (50%) of Americans, 43% of South Koreans and about one-third of respondents in the UK.

Men are more open to the concept than women and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the willingness to share health data increases with age, the study found.

Similarly, older people are more willing to use smartwatches for online identification. Nearly half (48%) of the over-50s are interested in this function, compared to 46% of 30-49 year-olds and 42% of those aged 16-29.

Over two-thirds (68%) of Chinese respondents are happy to use a smartwatch as secure identification, but this drops to just under half (49%) of Americans, 37% of South Koreans, one-third (33%) of Britons and just one-quarter of Germans.

On whether smartwatches could be used as a form of ID, again the Chinese are the most open to the idea.

Over half (57%) say they would be happy to do so, followed by respondents in the US (41%), South Korea (33%), the UK (28%), but only one-fifth of Germans feel the same.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Chinese see potential for smartwatches as travel tickets, followed by South Korea (54%), the US (41%), the UK (32%) and Germany (31%).

Using smartwatches as a method for making payments fails to interest most consumers outside of China, the only country to record a slim majority.

Just over half (54%) of Chinese respondents would be interested in using a smartwatch at the checkout compared to a global average of just 35%.

Only 40% of US respondents would welcome the idea, dropping to 28% in South Korea, 27% in the UK and just 20% in Germany, the country that is most hesitant on all five questions.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff