Fitbit Blaze

Gartner, a leading IT research and analysis company, recently released the findings of a survey diving into the longevity of wearable fitness trackers such as the Apple SmartWatch and FitBit. The results concluded that the abandonment rate for smartwatches is approximately 29 percent. Fitness trackers garnered an abandonment rate of about 30 percent.

The survey polled 9,592 individuals from Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. between June and August 2016. The survey aimed to gather insight into consumer attitudes toward the trendy devices ranging from fitness trackers to smartwatches to virtual reality glasses.

“Dropout from device usage is a serious problem for the industry,” said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner. “The abandonment rate is quite high relative to the usage rate. To offer a compelling enough value proposition, the uses for wearable devices need to be distinct from what smartphones typically provide. Wearables makers need to engage users with incentives and gamification.”

wearables, fitbit

According to the Gartner survey results, fitness trackers garnered an abandonment rate of about 30 percent. 

The results also detailed the state of consumer adaptation of various types of fitness wearables. Trackers led the bunch, landing in the early stage of mainstream acceptance. In this device category, U.S. consumers had the highest usage of all three regions surveyed — averaging 23 percent. Nineteen percent of Australian consumers use fitness trackers, landing in the second position. U.K. consumers clocked at 15 percent. The rates have increased compared to Gartner’s 2015 analysis. The good news: Most consumers who own a fitness tracker wear it daily. “An additional 26 percent of individuals wear their tracker at least several days a week,” the report said.

Though the most popular of activity wearables, fitness trackers were still found to be unappealing to 29 percent of individuals, the report concluded. “They said they would not wear them or that the designs are neither fashionable nor attractive,” said the report.

It might come down to age, however, to truly understand the acceptance of fitness trackers. “People less than 45 years old tended to think a smartphone can do everything they need. People at least 45 years old state that they do not plan to purchase a fitness tracker because they are too expensive for the value,” said the report.

While appealing band designs might help to draw certain shoppers, the extra cost will turn off others. “More fitness trackers will be sold as replacement devices rather than first-time purchases from now until the middle of 2017,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal research analyst at Gartner. “It’s important for providers to market lower-priced fitness trackers to the older user segments, especially to older women.”

wearables, smartwatches

While still in the early adaptation phase, smartwatch usage increased year-on-year.  Jose Sanchez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Smartwatches lag behind fitness trackers in consumer readiness to adapt the devices into their daily activities. According to the research, U.S. consumers lead in smartwatch usage – approximately 12 percent. The U.K. follows with usage rates at 9 percent and Australia at 7 percent. Though usage rates are lower, installing the device into the early adaptation phase, the usage percentages have increased compared year-on-year.

“The key to creating a value proposition to interest mainstream consumers is lifestyle messages around health tracking and the convenience of receiving alerts on the wrist, instead of via the phone,” said McIntyre. “The benefit will increase as these devices gain the capability to function more independently from the phone.”