Every Step You Take – Smartphone Step-Trackers (TUPdate)

Every Step You Take – Smartphone Step-Trackers – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, March 24, 2017

Baby steps count, as long as they’re in the right direction.  Digital health promises positive outcomes for a wide range of people. However, like gym memberships and home treadmills, they don’t do much unless people use them. A first step for many is to use what’s handy. Most Smartphones can track a user’s steps, and many are being used for that purpose, although use isn’t as widespread as Fitness Trackers or Smartwatches.

Phone Home or Walk Home?

Using one’s Smartphone to track steps is a regular activity for 25 million, or 1 in 9, US adults. There are other ways to track one’s health. Electronics activity trackers, such as the FitBit, are being actively used by 39.6 million, or 18% of US adults.

Also, Smartwatches are in active use by 36 million adults, or 17% of all U.S. Connected Adults.

Plans to Buy a Fitness Tracker

The strongest plans to purchase a fitness tracker are among adults who are already actively counting their steps. One-sixth (16%) of adults who are currently tracking their steps using a Smartphone are planning to buy a Fitness Tracker in the next 12 months. Fitness Tracker purchase plans are much smaller among Smartphone users who aren’t already using it to track their steps. Purchase plans are even smaller among adults who do not currently use a Smartphone.

Active Usage and Plans to Buy a Fitness Tracker – Age-related (in part)

The highest usage rates for electronic activity trackers is among older millennials, age 28-35, with nearly one-third (32%) actively using one. The shouldering cohorts have lower user rates that are identical with each other – 20%. Each older age group has a lower usage rate.

The pattern is different for tracking steps using a Smartphone. Younger adults, especially Younger Millennials, have the highest usage rates. Nearly one-in-five (19%) of Younger Millennials (age 18-27) use a Smartphone to track their steps. Slightly fewer (15%) of Older Millennials (age 28-35) do, and even fewer (11%) of GenX (age 36-51) do.

Purchase plans follow a similar pattern of being age-related, with younger adults having stronger plans than older adults.

There are many reasons for the difference in age interest between Fitness Trackers and Smartphones. One factor is the persistent wobbliness between BOB and SAK in tech. BOB means Best of Breed, which includes focused-function devices or services which focus on being the best in their class for a narrow set of capabilities. SAK refers to the Swiss Army Knife approach, integrating a broad range of adequate capabilities into a device or service. Over the last three decades of tech research, our research shows a constantly shifting balance between the adoption of BOB versus SAK, and for all kinds of technology products and services.

Separate wearables dedicated to fitness have the charm of being stylish accessories, of more appeal to younger adults. Also, any adults more athletic than their older counterparts will value the accuracy of dedicated fitness tracker, whether that additional accuracy is actual or perceived. Cost is a factor to some extent, as these younger adults don’t have the financial means of the next-older age cohort. Younger Millennials have the highest unemployment rates (10%), student rates (30%), and part-time employment rates (19%) of any of the age cohorts. Their full-time employment rate (29%) is nearly half that of Older Millennials (56%).

Looking ahead

Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches, although both Wearables, are not exactly in the same category. Fitness tracker makers would argue they are different in accuracy, health tracking beyond steps such as pulse rates, lower cost, or with design that’s more clearly oriented towards fitness. Purchase plans are similar, though, with 6% of U.S. Connected Adults planning by buy a Fitness Tracker in the coming 12 months, and 7% planning to buy a Smartwatch. What’s interesting is that the majority of those planning to acquire either type of device are employed full-time or part-time.

Perhaps some savvy marketers will join forces with employers oriented towards supporting their employee’s health, and support the many with healthy intentions. Whether supported or not, we expect digital health to reach further into the lives of Connected Adults, as an increasing number of devices offer metrics that matter.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.
This TUPdate was based on results in the TUP Chapter – Consumer Electronics, Section WEAR/Wearables, Hearables, Listening and Speaking.

Related MetaFAQs

The following related MetaFAQs address questions included in this TUPdate.

mq0118 Who is already wearing wearable technology? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [120 DRxWEAR] Respondent Demographics
mq0124 Is there an age skew for using a Smartwatch? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A4-AGE/Age Ranges  Tables: [480 CExAGE] Consumer Electronics
mq0132 Is there an age skew for those using a Smartphone to track their steps? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A4-AGE/Age Ranges  Tables: [480 CExAGE] Consumer Electronics
mq0169 Is there an age skew for using wearable activity trackers, such as a FitBit? Chapter: A User Profile  Section: A4-AGE/Age Ranges  Tables: [480 CExAGE] Consumer Electronics
mq0260 Are tech wearers bigger or lower tech spenders? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [790 SPENDxWEAR] Tech Spending
mq0335 Are tech wearers more or less socially active? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [230 SNSxWEAR] Social Networkers
mq0374 Are tech wearers earlier Desktop, Notebook, or Smartphone adopters? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [160 ADOPTxWEAR] Technology Adoption
mq0375 Are tech wearers early adopters? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [160 ADOPTxWEAR] Technology Adoption
mq0393 Do technology wearers use more or fewer CE products? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [480 CExWEAR] Consumer Electronics
mq0395 Do technology wearers use more or fewer connected devices? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [490 UNITSxWEAR] Units
mq0424 Are tech wearers more or less active with their devices than others? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [540 ACTxWEAR] Activities
mq0425 Are tech wearers using more-mobile tech products? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I1-WEAR/Wearable Technology  Tables: [250 DEV_KEYxWEAR] Key Device Metrics
mq0710 Do Smartwatch users use voice assistants at a higher rate than average? Chapter: I Wearables, Hearables, Listening & Speaking  Section: I3-VOICEASST/Voice Assistance  Tables: [480 CExVOICEASST] Consumer Electronics

 

 

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Filed under Demographics & Econographics, Fitness Trackers, Market Research, Personal and Productivity, Smartphones, Smartwatches, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

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