Industry Buzz: The Future of Wearables

ACSM recently released its worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2016, and wearables landed at the top. However, what impact have wearables truly had on American consumers?

According to research conducted by Endeavour Partners, despite a booming wearables market, the verdict is still out, especially when you take into consideration the abandonment rate of wearable tech users. “While the abandonment rates are improving … as of June 2014, about a third of owners of smart wearables still abandon these devices after six months,” the research states.

So, why are wearable devices being adopted at such a fast rate? According to Endeavour Partners, there are three main reasons.

  1. Wearables are very visible. They get attention from the media, and because they promise better health and fitness, are attractive to the consumer.
  2. Wearables are easily accessible. They can be found in both brick-and-mortar stores and online.
  3. Wearables are giftable. Their price point, novelty and perceived value make them popular gifts.

But ultimately, the wearables market is still young. To succeed, Endeavour Partners predicts future wearables will need to do some of the following:

  • Improve the fundamental consumer proposition.
  • Improve and offer diverse style and design aesthetics.
  • Carve out new and importance niches.
  • Expand the ecosystem (emergence of new business models).
  • Improve the underlying technology.

The bottom line is that wearables do provide a great opportunity for American consumers to improve their fitness. However, there’s still a factor involved that’s uncontrollable to an extent — the human factor. Just because a person wears a fitness tracker, that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be healthier. Habits must be changed.

So, as a health club with dozens, if not hundreds, of members with wearable devices, is there anything you can do to ensure wearables reach their potential to have a positive impact on the consumer? Yes, by inserting accountability where you can.

According to a New York Times article, “Assessing the Fitness of Wearable Tech,” researchers at Penn’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics are conducting clinical trials to determine what strategies can best sustain changes in health behaviors induced by fitness trackers.

The team suggested users “form teams that provide peer support and promote a sense of accountability [to maintain the new behavior], perhaps aiming for everyone to achieve a minimum amount of activity rather than simply rewarding the power walkers.”

What better way to do that than in a fitness center?

Consider creating a fitness challenge in your club tracked by wearables. Some clubs have even incorporated them into their personal training.

And, remember to keep an eye on the wearable market for new trends and influences. As Endeavour Partners states, the market is still young, and full of future possibilities.

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