UK smartwatch penetration trebled to 3pc

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Figures from Kantar WorldPanel show Apple took almost a third of smartwatch share during 2015

Smartwatch penetration in the UK has almost trebled in the last year to three per cent, driven by strong sales of the Apple Watch, according to exclusive figures from Kantar WorldPanel.

Just one per cent of UK adults owned a smartwatch In April 2015, but by the end of the year, this had surpassed three per cent, with Apple’s timepiece taking the lions share of sales – 33 per cent.

image004Despite the growth of the market, Kantar’s latest figures highlighted that desire for the devices remains flat, with just three per cent of UK residents saying they plan to buy a smartwatch – the same as April.

The primary reason given by those choosing not to buy a smartwatch is functionality. 18 per cent of Kantar’s 15,000 strong panel said their smartphone already performs the same functions a wearable offers. This was down from 41 per cent in April.

Price was another major barrier in April, with more than half of people saying smartwatches were too expensive, but this had fallen to just 13 per cent in Kantar’s latest figures.

Kantar WorldPanel consumer insights director Imran Choudhary claimed this shows consumers are warming to smartwatches, but manufacturers still need to make a clear use case for the devices.

“In April, 20 per said they didn’t understand the technology of smartwatches and now that number has dropped to nine per cent so consumers are being made aware of how smartwatches work,” Choudhary said.

Imran Choudhary“Only 10 per cent think the features are of no use at all with one in four stating this was the case last time April – further evidence things are moving in the right direction but not enough to bring more into the market, or to start considering a purchase any time soon.  Perhaps once more use cases are clearly shown in conjunction with a more price-competitive lower end of the market; we will see an a greater portion of the population willing to buy into this new category.

“The challenge vendors face is how to let customers get their hands on the products and try them out. Beyond Apple, very few have a wide retail footprint so it is a lot more difficult for a manufacturer to sell a use case to the consumer.”

For fitness bands, UK penetration hit four per cent by the end of last year, double the previous year. Fitbit is way out in front in this market, taking up a 59 per cent share last year.

Just two per cent of those asked said they plan to buy a smartband in the near future, but Kantar found that a quarter of those looking to buy one wanted a Fitbit.

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