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Three future directions of wearables

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Digital 12.06.2015 / 11:55

Chalk hand full

TNS China analyzes three future directions of wearables: Healthy enabling responder, portable wireless entertainment, and family security monitor. They have different levels of potentials for brands to tap into.

Healthy enabling responder: Core battlefield

Xiaomi Wristband Full

Xiaomi smart wristband 79 yuan

Jenny begins her daily morning jogging at 7:30 am. Her smart wristband records her route and speed. She arrives at TNS Shanghai office at 9:30 am and starts to work. Her smart watch reminds her once every hour to either get up from her seat for some exercise or drink water. At 10:30 pm, when Jenny goes to bed, the smart wristband activates sleep monitoring mode to track the sleep phases to help improve her sleep quality.

Jenny is a typical user of wearable devices, for whom "healthy enabling responder" is one of the key purposes. TNS China's World of Convergence research has found that smart phone and wearable devices have decently fulfilled most of consumers' demand in this aspect. Between the two, wearables significantly outscored smart phones in "monitoring body condition, reminding me of potential health issues" and "improving sleep quality".

TNS China has noticed the potential market size of healthy enabling responder is very large. Generally speaking, existing wearable devices are far from perfect, such as battery life and accuracy of data collected. Consumers are eagerly waiting for better products to emerge.

Portable wireless entertainment: Potential market

Beats Wireless Black

Beats Studio Wireless US$590

Steve is a big fan of music. Music gives him energy and inspiration. However, he is often frustrated by the fact that to listen to music, besides a heavy headset, he has to carry a smart phone all the time, and the earphone cable and data cable which always tangle into a big mess no matter how hard he has tried to separate them.

Entertainment such as listening to music is one of consumers' most common jobs done on digital devices. However, the function of existing music listening gadgets, such as smart phones and MP3, MP4 players, depends on the availability of Internet connection and data cables. Wearables could be the answer to wipe out these pain points. Chris Bonsi, TNS Asia Pacific Chief Client and Insights Officer, said: "Next generation of wearables will focus on getting rid of data cables as well as ensuring they can function normally without smart phones and Internet connection."

Family security monitor: Next big thing

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360 Children Guard Smart Watch 3 (Talk version) 399 yuan

Susan's child is in Grade Two this year. News reports about stolen children always worry her. She has bought a child security wristband to remotely monitor the condition and whereabouts of her child. The embedded GSM module also enables her to have brief conversations with her child when they need to talk.

Just like Susan, we all care about the safety of our family members, especially children and seniors. If wearables can run security and first-aid apps, they can become very attractive to help consumers to achieve these jobs digitally.

However, consumers' concern over privacy has prevented them from purchasing such devices. TNS China's World of Convergence research has found that wearable devices performed poorly when compared with smart phones on "I don't feel it will invade my privacy and I feel safe". Brands need to strike the balance between consumers' demands for privacy protection and monitoring for security reasons.

Take-away message: Serve core requirements better, focus on clearly defined segments

Currently consumers' complaints/jokes about wearable focus on basic functions, such as "hello, I just bought a US$10,000 golden Apple Watch. It's so cool! Hey, wait, the battery is out again …"

These basic functions reflect consumers' core requirements, which are almost every consumers' expectation on every digital device under all scenarios. TNS China's World of Convergence research has found that the core requirements for technology products include product safety, battery life, speed, durability and connectivity. A quick review of all existing wearable devices has shown that they are far from ideal in these aspects. For example, smart watches with screens have short battery life; smart wristbands have to try several times before they can match a smart phone; smart watches will become slow or inaccurate during exercise because of sweat.

This means that the next generation of wearables need to improve their performances in meeting consumers' core requirements, including battery life, responsive speed and connectivity.

To put in a nutshell, the key to the success of wearable devices lies in two aspects: because it is "wearable", consumers will take them everywhere; also because it is "wearable", these gadgets will connect human beings with digital devices unprecedentedly close together and collect data through digital methods. The combination of both is the true value of wearables.

Consumers are buying wearables not for the devices themselves, they are, just as TNS China's World of Convergence research has pointed out, using these devices to achieve certain digital jobs-to-be-done. For brands, the starting place is to identify those basic yet unfulfilled needs, and then focus on clearly defined segments with strong potential, such as choose to launch a 100% perfect healthy enabling responder.

Source: Kantar TNS

Editor's notes

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of opportunities in China's digital market or the research World of Convergence, please contact us.

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