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US outpaces Europe for wearables

News, 09 May 2016

NEW YORK: US consumer adoption of smartwatches and fitness wearables stands at almost double the rate found in Western Europe's four largest economies, a new report has revealed.

According to research firm Kantar Worldpanel, 12.2% of US consumers now own a fitness band or smartwatch compared to just 6.6% of their counterparts in the EU4 nations of Germany, the UK, France and Italy.

There are further differences between these two large markets because fitness bands account for three-quarters (75%) of wrist wearable devices in the US whereas European consumers prefer smartwatches.

Among European consumers who have adopted wearable devices, the majority (55.2%) have opted for a smartwatch compared to just 22.9% of US consumers.

However, while overall wearable penetration in the EU4 countries ranks lower than in the US, there remain considerable differences between them with Italy coming closest to the US in terms of adoption.

At 10.3%, this mobile consumer trend has made more inroads in Italy than in the UK (7.9%), Germany (5.4%) or France (4.6%).

Kantar's inaugural report into the wearables market also revealed another development in Europe where 39% of all smartwatches were bought to replace a timepiece, suggesting that the battle with traditional watches is intensifying.

Returning to the US wearables market, Kantar confirmed that Fitbit has firmly established itself as an early market leader.

The Californian tech firm dominates the US market with 61.7% share, compared with the 6.8% secured by Apple, and the report attributed Fitbit's success to its communication of "a clear and simple value proposition to consumers".

"For both smartwatch and fitness band buyers – brand, ease of use, and functionality are the top drivers of purchase, outweighing both design and cost," said Shannon Conway, wearable tech analyst for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel; additional content by Warc staff