Survey: Americans wants smartwatches; Europe, not so much

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By: RickFerguson |

Posted on February 5, 2016

Wondering if smartwatches will ever become a viable marketing platform? A new survey from Kentico Software suggests that U.S. consumers will lead adoption: While consumer interest in smartwatches is high in the US (nearly 60% would like to eventually own one�36% within the next year), the figures for Europe and the UK are more conservative (under one third of brits want to own one�22% in the next year). Cost and reasons for ownership are serious barriers to adoption. But what about the device�s viability as a marketing platform?

The eventual mass adoption of smartwatches presents digital marketers with yet another way to provide content, however attitudes to opt-in and privacy vary. 48% of Brits believe they will be okay with at least some advertising served up on the smartwatch (against 71% in US). While the majority of British, 52%, would prefer to totally block ads (against 29% in US).

A total of 1,000 US, UK, Australian, German, Dutch, and French Internet users 18 years old and over participated in Kentico�s Smartwatch Survey, conducted online during the month of December 2015. Other key findings from the survey:

  • Europeans are open to a smartwatch test drive. In a more positive show of consumer interest, 75% of Europeans express being possibly open to test driving a smartwatch to experience it for themselves. Surprisingly, 78% believe their use of the smartwatch will mostly be limited to personal matters, while 19% believe it could assist them both personally and professionally. Only 3% view the smartwatch as a work-only device.
  • Awareness of smartwatches is much lower in Europe. Half as many Europeans than Americans know friends or colleagues with a smartwatch (22% in Europe, 44% in the US). Similarly, just 41% of Brits consider themselves early tech adopters, against 65% in the US. One reason for these large differences can be explained by lack of education and/or knowledge. When asked how much they know about smartwatch functionality, only 38% of Europeans said �a lot� or �moderate� amount, against 55% in the US.
  • Cost is the biggest barrier to adoption. While 75% of people in the US and 60% of Europeans blame cost, the next biggest purchase barrier is lack of compelling reason to buy � one third in the US and 44% in Europe. Although many experts predict an increase in adoption as more consumers identify the need.
  • Communication leads smartwatch capabilities. When presented with a list of possible smartwatch capabilities, 46% of Europeans cited the ability to email and text without having to pull out their phone as the most intriguing, while 37% favoured getting directions. The next most popular features are Voice and video calling (32%), Safety monitoring (27%), Real-time alerts such as those from an airline, bank or social network (24%) and Tracking diet and exercise (21%).

The Bullet Point: Much like mobile payments, smart watch technology has often seemed like a solution in search of a problem. While the Kentico survey reveals some pent-up interest�particularly in the US�the lack of a compelling narrative for why consumers need another device means that smartwatches will remain a niche play for affluent consumers with plenty of disposable income.

You can view the Kentico report here.

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