Waggener Edstrom Study Says ‘Wearables’ Are Here to Stay

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We’re still not quite sure what to make of wearable technology. Many tech companies and their firms want to tell us that it’s the next big thing, and we feel like we should probably get some sort of fitness tracker when we plan our New Year’s resolutions. But doubts remain: last week, investors had a minor freakout over Google founder Sergey Brin’s decision to appear at a “red carpet event” without a bulky camera on his face.

A new study from Waggener Edstrom, however, tells us that the wearable tech market is just getting started. One research firm predicts that it will be ten times as large in 2018 as it was last year.

You can click here to download the full paper, and we have some takeaways after the jump.

  • Awareness of “wearable technology” is high: 75 percent of consumers have heard of it
  • Familiarity, on the other hand, is low: only 44 percent call themselves “familiar” with the trend

Wearables still face some considerable hurdles: a full 50 percent of respondents say they currently “have no need” for such products. And fashion doesn’t much factor into their adoption:

  • Only 8 percent of participants said that wearables make their owner “look cool”
  • Only 6 percent said fashion concerns would play a part in their decision to buy such products

What’s the biggest reason Americans have yet to jump on board? Price.

Tech companies and their PR firms need to position wearables as something that the average consumer needs for practical reasons rather than the latest shiny toy for early adopters (who are more likely to live in the Deep South or the Midwest than our own New York City, by the way):

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Waggener’s research suggests pairing the products with big-name celebrities and fashion brands. That movement has already begun: our sister site AgencySpy recently spoke with representatives from fashion giant Kenneth Cole and digital agency Ready Set Rocket about “Man Up for Mankind,” created in collaboration with Men’s Health and hailed as the very first ad/marketing campaign to make prominent use of Google Glass.

Today, Ready Set Rocket Technical Director Gareth Price gave us his thoughts on the Waggener Edstrom study and the “wearables” trend in general:

The report matches our findings with wearable technology, in that there is a general fascination with the devices that is beginning to permeate the culture — but the devices do not provide a significant amount of utility to the majority of people yet. The report makes the assumption that success will come as devices become “more fashionable,” but it is our opinion that invisibility and subtlety will prove more important for adoption.

Visible wearables align the user with “tech culture,” which makes a strong statement about the values of the user that does not align with the values of average consumers, outside of the (relatively small) world of tech influencers. Where wearables have found market success so far – primarily in the fitness sector – they have made efforts to align more closely as expressions of belonging to a “fitness culture” and not a “tech culture.

We recommend that device makers focus on aligning with their target culture and focus on benefits of devices rather than features.

What do we think? Do we side with Price or Waggener Edstrom?