What you need to know

The wearables market is performing strongly in 2019, and Mintel’s consumer research shows an increase in ownership of all wearables compared to 2018. The biggest increase has been in the adoption of smart earbuds. More and more manufacturers are offering their versions of these wireless earphones to compete with the well-known Apple AirPods. The increasing choice for consumers is helping this part of the industry to grow.

As well as ownership of wearables increasing, there is greater intent to buy wearables in the next 12 months – indicating future success for the industry. The greater intent applies to well-known devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches but is also evident for smart clothing, smart jewellery and smart glasses.

While Apple is leading the smartwatch market ahead of Samsung, Fitbit dominates the fitness trackers and sports watch industry. However, it is arguable that consumers associate the brand more with fitness trackers and sports watches, and that has negatively affected its performance with smartwatches – which are well behind Apple and Samsung.

There have been a couple of innovative products in the wearables sector during 2019, in the Nubia Alpha, dubbed the ‘Wearable Phone’, and the Alexa-supported Amazon Echo Frames. Both of these products may have been met with some criticism or concerns but do present interesting takes on where their industries could be heading.

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • The term ‘wearable technology’ (also referred to as ‘wearable devices’ or ‘wearables’) in this Report refers to a category of technology devices that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as items of clothing.

  • Generally, wearable technology products can perform some of the same computing tasks as smartphones and have the ability to connect to the internet, which enables data exchange. In addition, they can provide sensory and scanning features such as biometrics and tracking of physiological functions and allow for real-time access to this information.

  • As far as this Report is concerned, the definition encompasses smartwatches, fitness bands, GPS watches, wearable cameras, smart clothing, smart jewellery and smart glasses/headsets. Although VR headsets could be considered items of wearable technology, they are not included in the definition for this Report. Instead, they are covered in their own, separate Mintel Virtual Reality – UK, December 2019 Report.

  • The terms ‘fitness bands’ and ‘fitness trackers’ are used interchangeably, and refer to wrist-worn devices that are focused on tracking health, wellbeing and exercise. Some ‘fitness bands’ or ‘fitness trackers’ also incorporate smart functionality, such as displaying notifications from a connected smartphone.

  • The term ‘sports watch’ refers to a device that has many similarities to ‘fitness bands’ or ‘fitness trackers’ in terms of the focus on health, although ‘sports watches’ have a circular watch face akin to a traditional watch.

  • The term ‘smartwatch’ refers to a device, which offers the features of a ‘sports watch’ but also supports app downloads.

  • Mintel market size estimates only cover fitness bands, sports watches and smartwatches.

  • This Report only covers the UK consumer market for wearable technology. B2B sales are excluded from market data, and analysis refers only to trends in consumer markets unless specifically stated.

Back to top