Nielsen: More fitness devices purchased in-store than online

By Aditi Pai

misfit shine t-shirtOnly 15 percent of consumers use a nutrition-tracking website or mobile app to stay healthy, according to a Nielsen survey of 471 respondents called the Health and Wellness survey conducted in February 2014.

The post from Nielsen combines insights from not only the Health and Wellness Survey, but also the Connected Life Report, which MobiHealthNews covered at the end of March. This report surveyed 3,956 respondents last November.

According to Nielsen, 13 percent of consumers use a fitness game on a mobile devices or game console to stay in shape. Social interaction is a big motivator for consumers who want to get healthy -- 49 percent of respondents said their family and friends were the most helpful for staying motivated. This could explain why the social aspect of health programs such as Weight Watchers are more popular than other features.

When shopping for a fitness device, 48 percent of fitness band owners and 54 percent of health device owners did research on what device to buy online. The top source of information, after online research, was recommendations from friends and family -- 36 percent of fitness band owners and 25 percent of mobile health device owners asked their peers for advice before purchasing a device. Thirty percent of both fitness band owners and mobile health device owners shopped in stores for their fitness devices. Nielsen explained that the "mobile health" devices include pedometers.

While online shopping yielded the highest results for researching devices, 33 percent purchased the device online through the brand’s website and 27 percent purchased their device online through a third party. More consumers, 37 percent, purchased their device in stores and Nielsen noted that "manufacturers of fitness bands in particular should take note of the sway that a hands-on experience can provide".

Once they purchased their devices, 62 percent of fitness device owners were most interested in tracking miles traveled and calories burned. Nearly half of fitness device owners used their device to monitor their heart rate.

Nielsen found that 62 percent of fitness device owners used their device daily and 29 percent of this group used their device multiple times a day. Of course, another recent survey from Endeavor Partners noted that one-third of consumers who own a wearable device stopped using it within six months. Still, according to Nielsen, the number of smartphone owners who used a fitness device increased 18 percent from January 2013, when there were 39 million users, to January 2014, when there were 45.8 million consumers.

Only 28 percent of fitness band users say their device was worth the price. People were most concerned with the device's level of privacy and the lack of unique features. For 30 percent of consumers, the privacy issue was important because they believed their devices would make it "too easy" for others to access personal information. Twenty eight percent of consumers wanted more unique features because they felt like they could have used a device they already own, likely their smartphone, to do what their fitness device does.

Apps with fitness tracking features, such as Moves by ProtoGeo, have been advertising for a while now that the software on a smartphone could be just as effective as a fitness device. Most recently, Jason Jacobs, CEO of RunKeeper, said that dedicated trackers are on the “road to nowhere.” He went on to compare these fitness trackers to cameras and music players, which were swallowed by the smartphone.

For those consumers that don't already own devices, 17 percent said they would consider purchasing a device when it drops to "a reasonable price" and 9 percent would consider purchasing a device when the bugs have been worked out.

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