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Wearable tech still far too expensive for mass adoption

New research by GfK on wearable technology shows that although awareness is high, products like Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear are priced out of reach from those they appeal to most. However, awareness of products including Sony Smartwatch, Nike Fuelband, Pebble and Fitbit is relatively high – in some instances as high as 50 per cent, particularly amongst men and the under 45s.

But at only 6 per cent for the general population, ownership of wearable tech is low. The figure is slightly higher for 16-24 year olds at 7 per cent, but still disappointedly low. Yet six in ten 16-24 year olds find the idea of a ‘connected’ smartwatch appealing, and four out of ten like the concept of Google Glasses (not surprisingly, twice as many 16-24 year olds are prepared to try out the futuristic specs compared to those over aged 45).

At the moment price is a major barrier for mass take-up of wearable tech. In GfK’s research, once respondents saw the cost of a connected Smartwatch (£150-£200), purchase intention halved from 24 per cent to 12 per cent. For Google Glasses (currently priced at £400-£600), purchase intention dropped even further from 16 per cent to 7 per cent. Purchase intention dropped the most for 16-24 year olds, by almost two thirds to 10 per cent for the connected smartwatch.

“To get the market moving manufacturers need to communicate tangible lifestyle benefits and offer a sleek design – but even then, any wearable tech device will only succeed if it’s priced right,” said Johanna Martin of GfK. “Our research suggests that the current price points are a barrier, restricting wearable tech to an older, more affluent audience. So while consumer awareness and interest is definitely there, we are still waiting for the launch of that ‘must-have’ wearable tech device for Christmas 2013.”

Martin adds that challenges with the current positioning – from product, price and the promotion – suggests that manufacturers need to work harder to communicate the capabilities and appeal of the wearable tech devices that are available now, as well as in the future. Perhaps Apple is wise to stay out of this market for the time being?

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