Homework for wearables companies

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New Delhi | Updated: April 3, 2018 6:14:02 PM

Indian consumers have finally moved beyond exploration and are now questioning the utility of wearable devices in their lives.

wearables companies, consumersTraditionally, Indian consumers are very value conscious and carefully analyse the derived benefits from a product before even thinking of spending on it.

Indian consumers have finally moved beyond exploration and are now questioning the utility of wearable devices in their lives. On the one hand, the smartphone and personal computing devices market in India saw a rebound in 2017 but on the other, the overall wearables category surprised everyone as both basic and smart wearables saw a sluggish demand and limited single-digit growth.

So far, wearables companies were not able to appeal to masses with their focus limited on bringing in the affordable wristbands and watches. In the next few years, wearables companies must finish mandatory homework before replicating global trends in the country.

Beyond stats

Traditionally, Indian consumers are very value conscious and carefully analyse the derived benefits from a product before even thinking of spending on it. However, currently, most wearables companies are still focussing on providing key stats around calories, sleep and heart rate. While this really engages well in the initial days of the purchase, this novelty soon fades away and the tracker comes off the wrist in the absence of a critical use case. Also, since it does not impact any day-to-day work, the user forgets the device and moves on guilt-free.

More than a statistic or step/calorie count, consumers need frequent engagement and assurance that they are improving their lifestyle by wearing these gadgets. Assurance in the form of rewards and social recognition via communities is a strong motivation and leads to word-of-mouth.

A watch is not seen as a vanity product in India, anymore!

It is a fact that a watch is a fashion accessory and an emotional product. Traditional watchmakers did create a line of smartwatches; however, mostly at the premium end. The fact remains that the Indian wearables market still has a wildcard to explore in the entry-level segment, that is, the integration of aesthetic value, to sell these smartwatches.

The biggest competition is ‘Indian laziness’

A study conducted in 2017 by Stanford University researchers ranked Indians amongst the world’s laziest walkers: on an average, one person takes just 4,297 steps in a day. Wearable companies need to fight this battle together with key players from the ecosystem and adjacent markets to inflict new goals and educate masses more on a healthy lifestyle than anything else. Till now, most of these players were working in silos and only a collaborative approach can multifold the targetable market within India in the coming years.

The fear of bad health is more intuitive

Indians are raised with a belief that ‘prevention is better than cure’ but we tend to incline more on ‘cure’ than ‘prevention’ and are habitual to spend accordingly. Consequently, so far, messages have been more prompt towards having a healthy lifestyle, but it does not specify much about the actual impact it has if one does not follow it. Hence, there is a need to set the right context and allow users to think on the same lines to position the fitness category better.

Once these notions become habits, wearable companies will have a smoother ride in a diverse, value-conscious but a hard-to-ignore market like India.

The author is Jaipal Singh is Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices, IDC India.

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