Customers get bored quickly — leaving today’s hot new item in the dust of tomorrow’s must-have. And though attention spans are collectively shorter than ever, consumer adaptation still lags when it comes to embracing new technology.
Take wearables, for example, particularly fitness trackers such as Apple’s smartwatch or any of FitBit’s many armbands. A recent survey conducted by Gartner revealed that smartwatches have a 29 percent abandonment rate while fitness trackers have a 30 percent rate.
Here, Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, discusses some of the best practices that wearable companies might want to adopt to bolster product use and longevity.
WWD: How can brands enhance the wearable-user experience in order to curb the current drop-off rate?
Angela McIntyre: People stop using their smartwatch or fitness tracker after deciding it was not useful or they got bored of using it. Consumers are used to reaching for their phones, and wearables are accessories to smartphones. Wearables need to offer more convenience and features enabling people to use them independently from the phone or instead of an app on their phone.
Virtual personal assistants (VPA) like Siri, Alexa, Google Now enable people to use voice on their smartwatch in ways that are more convenient than tapping icons on the small screen. Through VPAs, wearers can get weather information, control music, adjust the lights at home, send texts, add to their shopping list and more. Voice interaction makes using smartwatches easier for a wider range of uses and will let people leave their phone in their bag or charging on the kitchen counter more often.
WWD: What gamification efforts might brands consider integrating into the next wave of products?
A.M.: Smartwatches may include alerts from games – like Pokémon Go – that wearers may otherwise have missed.
WWD: How has Pokémon Go affected consumers’ perspective on wearables?
A.M.: For many people, Pokémon Go was their first experience with augmented reality (AR). Now that consumers are more familiar with AR they may look for games that include AR and other mixed-reality experiences.
WWD: With the traditional spike in gym activity following the new year, how can wearable companies maximize on this opportunity in order to build connections with their customers for the rest of the year?
A.M.: Fitness clubs are using fitness bands and smartwatches to enhance the customer experience at the gym. They may have their own fitness app and loyalty program. Customers can get credit for more types of exercise that they do at the gym.
Fitness bands can also be used to alert members when it is their turn to use a type of equipment or to join a class. In addition, exercise outside of the gym can be counted in the app, enabling fitness clubs to have their customers engage more with their brand and with their personal trainers.
Personal trainers can gain insights about their clients’ exercise between visits and thus give them better advice. Personal trainers can offer enhanced services that include sending motivating messages to their clients through smartwatches or sports watches during exercise at home or during events like marathons.
WWD: In your opinion, why is adaptation of smartwatches falling behind other wearable products?
A.M.: Smartwatches generally have a higher price than fitness bands and consumers need to feel they would use the additional features that smartwatches have.