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Wearable tech sales double in UK

News, 25 January 2016

LONDON: Sales of fitness bands and smartwatches more than doubled in the UK in 2015, according to new research which also highlights customised information as an important selling point.

Market intelligence agency Mintel reported that three million wearable devices were sold in the UK in the 12 months to September 2015, up 118% from the previous year.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of these devices were fitness bands, while smartwatches accounted for the remaining 37%, but Mintel predicted that "smartwatch sales are set to soar in 2016".

This is because smartwatches are gaining in popularity – they accounted for just 9% of sales in 2014 compared with the 91% share taken by fitness bands.

Furthermore, almost one-in-ten (9%) of UK consumers say they plan to buy or upgrade to a new fitness band within the next 12 months, which is almost the same proportion as those who plan to buy or upgrade to a new smartwatch (8%).

"While fitness bands are, on average, less expensive than other wearables and have been on the market for relatively longer, higher adoption rates are also a reflection of the fact that wrist-worn devices offer a compelling practical benefit to active users," said Mintel analyst Sara Ballaben.

"The expected popularity of smartwatches in the short term is also the result of continued growth of the phablet market, which creates more compelling use cases for wrist-worn watches," she added.

While 59% of consumers say they worry about the security of their personal data on a wearable device, 60% still say they would be interested in receiving at least one type of information alert.

A quarter (26%) say they would be interested in receiving a weekly summary about their health while another quarter (26%) would welcome incoming emails, texts and calls.

These findings led Mintel's Ballaben to recommend that wearable brands ensure that they do not overload users with information, but instead keep it customised.

She said: "This suggests that customisation should go beyond a device's design to allow users to personalise the use they make of their wearable, as well as the range and number of alerts they receive."

Data sourced from Mintel; additional content by Warc staff