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More than Half of China's Urbanites Own a Smart Wristband

But sales for smart watches declined in 2016

March 17, 2017 | Mobile

In spite of all of the hype they’ve received, wearable devices have yet to spark a fire among consumers that is comparable to the one seen for smartphones. In China, that might be because less than one-third (32%) of urban internet users consider wearables to be fashionable, according to a survey conducted by marketing research firm Mintel in Q1 2017.

Smart Wristband and Smart Watch Ownership Among Urban Internet Users in China, Q1 2017 (% of respondents)

However, one bright spot for wearables in China may lie with smart wristbands. Mintel found that more than half (52%) of the city dwellers it surveyed owned a smart wristband—significantly more than the 42% who owned a smart watch.

Smart wristbands may hold greater appeal than watches among this group thanks to their lower prices and slimmer profiles. The devices also appeal to the fitness-conscious, according to Mintel. The firm found that 53% of urban internet users were interested in wearables’ health monitoring features.

All of that adds up to sharply increased demand for smart wristbands among consumers in China. Mintel estimates sales of the device grew 109% between 2015 and 2016. By comparison, sales of smart watches dropped 37% over the same timeframe. But demand for smart wristbands has been so strong that combined sales of both devices grew an estimated 66.8% in China last year.

Unsurprisingly, younger people were more interested in wearables than older folks. Mintel found that 48% of 20- to 24-year-olds said they would buy a device for themselves, compared with 43% of total consumers.

In spite of possible flagging interest in smart watches, the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates overall wearable device shipments in China will grow 29.0% this year to hit 50.0 million.

Rahul Chadha

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