More than three million wearable devices, including fitness bands and smartwatches, are estimated to have been sold in the UK in 2015.
Research from marketing intelligence agency Mintel found that in the 12 months to September 2015, sales of wearables increased 118 per cent, compared with the same period in 2014, which saw 1.4m sold.
Fitness bands outstripped smartwatch sales by almost two-to-one. In 2015, 63 per cent of wearables sold were fitness bands, compared with 37 per cent of smart watches.
However, smartwatches gained in popularity as they only accounted for nine per cent of sales in 2014, compared with 91 per cent of fitness bands. The number of consumers now intending to purchase a smartwatch is almost on par with fitness bands.
Almost one in 10 (nine per cent) of Brits said they planned to buy or upgrade to a new fitness band within the next 12 months, compared with eight per cent who said the same of smartwatches.
Sara Ballaben, technology analyst at Mintel, said: “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. Fitness bands monitor and help to improve their performance, while eliminating the need to carry around bulkier devices while training. While important product launches have and will certainly continue to accelerate consumer demand for smartwatches, their expected popularity 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.”
When it comes to features, consumers said battery life was the most important (39 per cent), followed by waterproof protection (22 per cent) and appearance and design (21 per cent).
Security was a common concern among wearable users, with three in five (59 per cent) saying they would worry about the security of their personal data if stored on a wearable device. Just over half (51 per cent) say they didn’t see how wearables could add value to their daily routine and two in five (39 per cent) said wearable technology represented an invasion of privacy.
Despite this, 60 per cent of consumers said they would be interested in receiving at least one type of information alert via wearable devices. One quarter (26 per cent) would be interested in receiving weekly summaries of their health and the same proportion would be interested in receiving incoming emails, texts, calls and calendar reminders.
Ms Ballaben added: “The gap between overall interest in receiving alerts through wearables and specific interest in each type of information alert suggests that there is significant variability among consumer preferences and no one-size-fits-all solution can be successful. As a result, it is fundamental that wearables do not overload users with information and, instead, filter what information is disseminated. 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.”