PwC survey finds parents are more likely to own wearables

By Jonah Comstock

PricewaterhouseCooper’s latest report looks at consumer attitudes and behaviors around wearables, and they’ve discovered one group that’s significantly more likely to own wearables: parents. 

Forty-nine percent of parents with a child at home own multiple wearable devices, compared to just 24 percent of non-parents. Furthermore, 20 percent of parents sought out a wearable device for health-related reasons, whereas nonparents were most likely to get their first wearable as a gift. 

Millenials were also more likely than other age groups to own a wearable, but, interestingly, they weren't the most likely to own a smartwatch. Instead, 35 to 49-year-olds were the most likely smartwatch owners.

In general, PwC found that 49 percent of their 1,000 US online survey respondents own at least one device, up from 21 percent when they conducted this same survey two years ago. Thirty-six percent owned more than one. Fitness bands were the most popular wearable, with 45 percent reporting owning one, followed by smartwatches (27 percent), smart glasses (15 percent), and smart clothing (12 percent).

Across the board, health was the number one reason for purchasing a wearable. 

“Fitness wearables paved the way for wearable technology’s popularity today,” PwC wrote in the report. “…Our survey echoed this pattern, with the majority of adoption taking place within the past year. And while this, too, held true for fitness devices, their head start has paid off—more of them were purchased over a year ago than any other type of device.”

PwC looked at wearable attrition as well — the tendency of people to abandon their wearables after a short period of use. They found that not all wearables had the same degree of attrition: 33 percent of smart clothing users dropped off, compared with 16 percent of smart glasses users. Fitness bands and smartwatches, at 18 percent and 22 percent respectively, fell in the middle.

They also looked at why customers buy — and don’t buy — wearables in the first place. Money was a big one. Respondents named price as their biggest reason for not buying a wearable and affordability as the biggest reason for buying one. The number two reason to not buy a wearable was the notion that they might not actually use it. 

“Ultimately, consumers are telling us they have to perceive real value before they can invest in a wearable,” the report says. “For companies, the message is clear: Provide an irrefutable use case that clearly establishes the value of your wearable— especially one with a lofty price tag—for the consumer.”

Interestingly, fashion was close to the bottom of the list, with just 14 percent of respondents saying it was their reason for buying a wearable. Privacy concerns were listed as the number four or five reason not to buy most wearables, but came in third for fitness bands.

Among the most interesting findings was that since the 2014 survey, consumers have become a lot more optimistic about the effects wearables will have on society. In 2014, 45 percent thought wearables could decrease obesity; this year it was up to 63 percent. The study saw similar jumps when respondents were asked about the potential of wearables to extend life expectancy (70 percent compared to 56 percent) and to lower insurance premiums (62 percent up from 53 percent.)