No, I’m not talking about clothes, but actually the latest tech gadgets!
As Christmas fast approaches, the hype around this year's trendy new toys has exploded. Leading the way, as usual, is Apple. But not with a new iPad or the iPhone 6; no, the latest and greatest new tech gadget is the iWatch.
The war of the 'wearables'
Who is going to win? And are they a long term opportunity for companies?
According to recent research, this Christmas will be a watershed for wearables, "Samsung is forecasting that in the UK, more than £100m will be spent on wearables this Christmas, with more than a million units sold." Communications firm Zeno predicts that by September 2015 6 million people in the UK will own one. This comes despite widespread data privacy concerns from consumers.
The most popular gadgets in this market are linked to fitness, with Nike, Adidas and Fitbit leading the way with various offerings. These differentiate from the iWatch on price and utility and represent the fastest growing segment of the market. However, the wearables market is not just for the trendy professionals. The Kidizoom smartwatch fom VTech is predicted to be one of the top selling gifts this Christmas - so there is clearly a childeren's niche in the market too.
Life changing tech?
But will the iWatch and other similar gadgets have the same profound impact our lives as the iPod and iPad have both had?
Research from the US indicates that the glamour of wearables wanes fast with user numbers falling rapidly following purchase. According to Wired, "more than half of US consumers who have owned an activity tracker no longer use it. A third of them took less than six months from unboxing the device to shoving it in a drawer or fobbing it off on a relative".
So is there a genuine consumer demand for wearables?
According to Wired, these companies haven't even identified the right niche in the market, let alone designed a product to meet a consumer need. They argue that the real untapped segment of the market is healthcare – diabetes or obesity, for example. In the US, 45% of adults are dealing with at least one chronic condition, according to a Pew Foundation survey. They go on to point out that these consumers track their health indicators far more than anyone else and that this year $2.8 billion has been spent on wearable medical devices, which is expected to grow to $8.3 billion in the next five years.
It seems that this is a classic case of gadget hype and Christmas gift envy.
The most successful businesses understand customer needs before jumping on the latest bandwagon. For a product or service to be repeatedly used and not just a flash in the pan, it needs to meet a need and have features that customers value. Smartwatches and wearables may well be a part of our future, but if you want to really take advantage of the opportunity and maximise your sales, then you need to identify the best target market and create a product that meets a need.
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