Wearable Tech Familiarity and Consideration on the Rise

NEW YORK, N.Y. – In comparison to two years ago, Americans are increasingly likely to have at least heard of wearable tech (83%, vs. 63% in 2013) and to say they’re either very or somewhat familiar with the category (53%, up from 30%). Similarly, Nielsen’s Connected Life Report – a bi-annual study of consumer needs, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors around new and emerging technologies related to connected cars, homes, and wearables – finds 82% of household decision makers say they’ve at least heard the term and nearly half (46%) say they know what it does.

Clearly familiarity isn’t breeding contempt, as Americans are also increasingly likely to indicate that they’ll consider purchasing a wearable tech device when it drops to a price they think is reasonable (27%, up from 17%). An additional one in ten (10%, up slightly from 7%) say they’ll consider a purchase when they read or hear positive feedback from people using such devices.

What’s more, there’s been a dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans who believe wearable tech devices are the next step to enhancing people’s lives (52%, up from 37%), along with a notable drop in the percentage who simply don’t understand the need for such devices (51%, down from 59%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,273 adults surveyed online between July 15 and 20, 2015.

  • Two-thirds of Millennials (68%) are familiar with these devices, as are a smaller majority of Gen Xers (56%), while just over four in ten Baby Boomers (43%) and three in ten matures (30%) say the same.
    • Additionally, Millennials (35%) and Gen Xers (31%) are more likely than their elders (22% Baby Boomers, 15% Matures) to say they’ll consider a wearable tech purchase when the price drops to a level they perceive as reasonable. Meanwhile, Matures (35%) and Baby Boomers (33%) are more likely than their younger counterparts (15% Gen Xers, 9% Millennials) to say they’ll never consider such a purchase.
  • Six in ten men (59%) are familiar with the category, as are just under half of women (47%).

Perceived benefits getting stronger

When asked what benefits wearable tech could have on their lives, roughly two-thirds of Americans (66%) – up from 54% in 2013 – believe such devices could benefit them in at least one way. This includes an overwhelming majority of Millennials (84%) roughly three-fourths of Gen Xers (74%), just over half of Baby Boomers (52%) and over four in ten Matures (43%). Some of the top benefits Americans believe this technology could have on their lives include:

  • Keeping them informed (42% of Americans, up from 26% in 2013),
  • Making them healthier (32%, up from 14%),
  • Making them more productive (27%, up from 18%), and
  • Making them feel more connected (26%, up from 18%).

Perceived benefits are consistently called out more among younger generations, while men are more likely than women to call out wearable tech’s potential to keep them more informed (46% vs. 38%).

Echoing some of these perceived benefits, over six in ten Americans believe wearable tech devices will make a major impact in the fitness (63%) and healthcare (61%) industries.

A majority of Americans (54%, up from 48%) indicate they’d like to be able to access smartphone functions without having to dig in their pocket or bag, but clearly this matters a lot more to some than to others. More specifically, Millennials (69%) are especially likely to feel a need for this level of convenience; Gen Xers (55%) are in turn more likely than Baby Boomers (45%) and Matures (42%) to agree with this sentiment.

Concerns also on the rise

On the other hand, when asked about their biggest concerns with wearable tech devices only 14% of Americans say they don’t have any concerns, while 86% (up from 76% in 2013) have at least one:

  • The top concern is price, with a 57% majority (up from 41% in 2013) concerned that they’ll be too expensive.
  • Privacy and lack of unique features are the next strongest concerns, with 37% each (up from 28% each in 2013) indicating that such devices will make it too easy for others to access personal information and that they don’t do anything consumers can’t already do on a device they already have.
    • Adding to privacy concerns, nearly six in ten Americans (58%, unchanged from 2013) indicate that they want wearable tech devices with cameras to be clearly visible.
    • Further driving home the need for wearable tech to distinguish itself from devices consumers might already have, seven in ten Americans (70%, up from 63% in 2013) say that wearable tech devices must meet their needs better than current technology for them to use such products.
  • Roughly one-fourth (24%, up from 10% in 2013) believe they’ll be too small to easily use, while two in ten (20%, up from 14%) believe they’ll be too complex to use.

While the percentage of Americans concerned that wearable tech devices will make them look silly has held steady at 15%, an increasing percentage believe wearable tech can be stylish (55%, up from 43%).

As seen in 2013, Millennials are more likely than their elders to confirm most of these concerns. Matures, on the other hand, are the generation most concerned that the devices will be too complex to use (30% vs. 22% Baby Boomers, 14% Gen Xers, 17% Millennials).

Factoring in form

Six in ten Americans are at least a little interested (61%, up from 46%) in owning a watch or wristband type device, with over four in ten specifying being very or somewhat interested (43%, up from 27%). Fewer are interested in owning a device from the headset/glasses category (43% at least a little, 27% very/somewhat – up from 36% and 20%, respectively), while a majority say there’s some other type of wearable tech they’re interested in (58% at least a little, 34% very/somewhat – up from 46% and 26%).

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TABLE 1

FAMILIARITY WITH WEARABLE TECH – by Generation, Gender & Adopter Status

 “How familiar are you, if at all, with wearable tech devices?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Adopter Status

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

Early Adopters

Mid Adopters

Late Adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

At least heard the term (NET)

63

83

90

86

82

62

85

82

97

89

72

Very/Somewhat familiar (NET)

30

53

68

56

43

30

59

47

84

61

33

          Very familiar

6

13

21

15

9

2

18

9

51

14

5

          Somewhat familiar

24

39

48

41

34

28

41

37

32

47

28

I’ve heard the term, but don’t know anything more about them

33

31

21

30

40

33

26

35

14

28

38

Not at all familiar

37

17

10

14

18

38

15

18

3

11

28

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

* indicates less than 0.5% selected this response; — indicates this response was not selected.

 

TABLE 2a

WHEN WILL CONSIDER PURCHASING A WEARABLE TECH DEVICE – by Generation & Gender

 “As you may know, wearable tech devices are small electronic devices that are carried or worn by people, either under, on top of, or as part of their clothing. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re not considering Bluetooth headsets, smartphones, or standalone mp3 players to be wearable tech devices. Which of the following best describes at what point, if ever, you will be likely to consider purchasing a wearable tech device?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-49)

Baby Boomers (50-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

When it drops to a price I think is reasonable.

17

27

35

31

22

15

29

26

When I read or hear positive feedback from people using them.

7

10

16

6

6

10

10

9

When I believe the “bugs” have been worked out.

9

7

6

12

5

4

8

6

When they include features I can’t get anywhere else.

7

6

7

7

6

4

7

6

When my favorite tech manufacturer offers them.

2

1

2

1

*

*

1

1

I will never consider buying a wearable tech device.

19

21

9

15

33

35

20

22

Not sure.

36

21

18

21

23

27

19

24

I already have a wearable tech device.

3

6

8

8

5

4

6

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

* indicates that less than 0.5% selected this response; — indicates this response was not selected.

 

 

TABLE 2b

WHEN WILL CONSIDER PURCHASING A WEARABLE TECH DEVICE – by Familiarity & Adopter Status

“As you may know, wearable tech devices are small electronic devices that are carried or worn by people, either under, on top of, or as part of their clothing. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re not considering Bluetooth headsets, smartphones, or standalone mp3 players to be wearable tech devices. Which of the following best describes at what point, if ever, you will be likely to consider purchasing a wearable tech device?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2013

2015

 

2013 Total

2015 Total

Familiarity w/ Wearable Tech

Adopter Status

Somewhat/ Very Familiar

Heard of it Only

Not at all Familiar

Early Adopters

Mid Adopters

Late Adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

When it drops to a price I think is reasonable.

17

27

33

26

10

28

32

19

When I read or hear positive feedback from people using them.

7

10

12

7

5

26

10

7

When I believe the “bugs” have been worked out.

9

7

8

6

6

5

8

5

When they include features I can’t get anywhere else.

7

6

9

5

1

7

8

4

When my favorite tech manufacturer offers them.

2

1

2

*

*

5

1

*

I will never consider buying a wearable tech device.

19

21

11

27

42

3

13

37

Not sure.

36

21

14

27

34

6

21

25

I already have a wearable tech device.

3

6

11

1

2

20

7

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

* indicates that less than 0.5% selected this response; — indicates this response was not selected.

 

 

TABLE 3a

INTEREST IN WEARABLE TECH

Summary Table

“As you may know, ‘wearable tech’ refers to small, wearable computer devices. Currently the most common types of existing or prototype devices are watches, wristbands, headsets or glasses. Please describe your interest in owning such a device.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

At Least a Little Interested (NET)

Very or Somewhat Interested (NET)

Very interested

Somewhat interested

A little interested

Not at all interested

Own something like this already

Watch or wristband type wearable tech

%

61

43

22

21

18

33

5

Headset or glasses type wearable tech

%

43

27

11

15

17

54

2

Some other type of wearable tech

%

58

34

11

22

24

39

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

 


 

TABLE 3b

INTEREST IN WEARABLE TECH – by Generation & Gender

Summary of “At least a little interested (NET)” & “Very/Somewhat Interested (NET)”

Base: U.S. Adults

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Watch or wristband type wearable tech

At least a little interested

46

61

74

63

52

50

62

61

Very/Somewhat interested

27

43

58

48

31

29

45

42

Headset or glasses type wearable tech

At least a little interested

36

43

61

47

31

23

50

38

Very/Somewhat interested

20

27

43

29

16

10

32

22

Some other type of wearable tech

At least a little interested

46

58

70

66

47

41

60

56

Very/Somewhat interested

26

34

46

41

23

19

38

30

 

 

TABLE 3c

INTEREST IN WEARABLE TECH – by Income

Summary of “At least a little interested (NET)” by Income & Parental Status

Base: U.S. Adults

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Annual HH Income

<$35k

$35k-$49.9k

$50k-$74.9k

$75k-$99.9k

$100k+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Watch or wristband type wearable tech

At least a little interested

46

61

58

60

59

64

64

Very/Somewhat interested

27

43

42

40

41

43

47

Headset or glasses type wearable tech

At least a little interested

36

43

46

35

44

47

44

Very/Somewhat interested

20

27

30

20

29

23

28

Some other type of wearable tech

At least a little interested

46

58

55

50

59

61

62

Very/Somewhat interested

26

34

33

27

32

31

41

 

 

TABLE 4

BENEFITS WEARABLE TECH DEVICES COULD HAVE ON YOUR LIFE

By Generation & Gender

 “What benefits, if any, could wearable tech devices have on your life? Please select all that apply.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Any benefits (NET)

54

66

84

74

52

43

67

65

Keep me more informed.

26

42

59

40

32

29

46

38

Make me healthier.

14

32

43

34

25

17

33

31

Make me more productive.

18

27

47

31

12

9

28

27

Make me feel more connected.

18

26

38

26

19

10

28

24

Make me more intelligent.

6

9

17

9

4

2

12

6

Improve my social life.

5

9

22

4

3

*

12

6

Improve my self-confidence.

4

7

13

5

4

1

8

6

Other

5

3

2

4

3

2

2

4

It won’t have any benefits

46

34

16

26

48

57

33

35

* indicates that less than 0.5% selected this response; — indicates this response was not selected.

 

 

TABLE 5

BIGGEST CONCERNS WITH WEARABLE TECH DEVICES

By Generation & Gender

“What, if any, are your biggest concerns with wearable tech devices? Please select all that apply.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Any concerns (NET)

76

86

90

85

86

80

87

86

They will be too expensive.

41

57

66

56

54

47

53

61

They will make it too easy for others to access my personal information.

28

37

43

35

33

38

38

37

They don’t do anything that I can’t already do on a device I already have.

28

37

41

33

36

31

37

36

They will be too small to easily use.

10

24

20

21

27

27

25

22

They will be too complex to use.

14

20

17

14

22

30

17

22

The information tracked won’t be accurate.

9

16

21

17

13

9

19

14

They will make me look silly.

15

15

22

15

11

8

19

12

Other.

6

4

2

7

4

5

4

5

I don’t have any concerns.

24

14

10

15

14

20

13

14

 

 

TABLE 6a

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH WEARABLE TECH DEVICE STATEMENTS

Summary Table

“How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not at all sure

Wearable tech devices must meet my needs better than current technology for me to use them.

%

70

41

29

20

9

11

10

I believe wearable tech devices will make a major impact in the fitness industry.

%

63

27

36

26

14

12

11

I believe wearable tech devices will make a major impact in the healthcare industry.

%

61

24

37

27

16

11

12

I want wearable tech devices to be clearly visible if they have a camera.

%

58

31

26

28

14

14

14

I think wearable tech can be stylish.

 

55

19

37

35

18

17

10

I’d like to be able to access smartphone functions without having to dig in my pocket or bag.

%

54

22

32

37

18

19

8

Wearable tech devices are the next step to enhancing people’s lives.

%

52

17

35

37

20

17

11

I don’t understand the need for wearable tech devices.

%

51

27

23

42

26

16

7

I think wearable tech is just a fad.

%

50

21

28

41

26

14

9

I would be more likely to use a wearable tech device if it couldn’t be seen.

%

43

14

29

46

24

22

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 6b

AGREE WITH WEARABLE TECH DEVICE STATEMENTS

By Generation & Gender

“How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2013

2015

2013 Total

2015 Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Wearable tech devices must meet my needs better than current technology for me to use them.

63

70

76

71

66

69

73

68

I believe wearable tech devices will make a major impact in the fitness industry.

NA

63

75

68

54

47

63

63

I believe wearable tech devices will make a major impact in the healthcare industry.

NA

61

69

62

58

48

62

60

I want wearable tech devices to be clearly visible if they have a camera.

58

58

62

58

56

52

60

56

I think wearable tech can be stylish.

43

55

71

56

46

37

60

51

I’d like to be able to access smartphone functions without having to dig in my pocket or bag.

48

54

69

55

45

42

56

53

Wearable tech devices are the next step to enhancing people’s lives.

37

52

63

50

46

39

53

50

I don’t understand the need for wearable tech devices.

59

51

45

46

55

63

50

51

I think wearable tech is just a fad.

49

50

49

49

50

54

48

51

I would be more likely to use a wearable tech device if it couldn’t be seen.

43

43

52

45

35

36

45

41

 

 

TABLE 7

ADOPTER STATUS

Summary Table

“Which statement best describes you?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2015 Total

%

I’m always the first to buy new technology products regardless of price and whether it is proven.

6

 
I tend to wait to buy new technology products until someone like me has bought it and endorses it.

26

 
I typically wait to purchase new technology products until many of the people I know are using it.

32

 
I am one of the last to buy new technology products.

36

 

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between July 15 and 20, 2015 among 2,273 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

Connected Life Methodology

Connected Life provides manufacturers, developers, carriers, content providers and advertisers with an understanding of consumer needs, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors around new and emerging technologies related to connected cars, homes, and wearables. The Connected Life study is conducted online twice per year using a sample of 5,000 adults age 18+ who either currently use or are interested in at least one of the three connected life technologies: connected home, car and/or wearable technology.  

 

The Harris Poll® #59, September 30, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll