Activity Trackers Continue to Lead in Fitness Tracking, Despite Smartwatches Working to Close the Gap

Seventy-nine percent of activity tracker users exercise on a regular basis, compared to 66 percent of smartwatch users, according to NPD Connected Intelligence

Port Washington, NY, June 13, 2016 – While activity tracker sales continue unabated, the smartwatch is becoming increasingly popular with consumers looking to monitor more advanced activities, according to The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Activity Trackers and Sports Report. The new report looks at wearable technology choices among different exercise groups, and while the activity tracker still leads in the majority of exercise categories, the gap is beginning to narrow. Runners are the first group to show a slightly higher number of smartwatch owners/users, with 22 percent reporting that they run on a regular basis (compared to 21 percent of activity tracker users).

“Activity tracker ownership continues to grow rapidly with more than double the smartwatch base*,” said Eddie Hold, President, Connected Intelligence. “While we are seeing that some forms of exercise are more likely to be impacted by the smartwatch, there are still a number of consumers that are planning to purchase activity trackers to monitor their fitness. Of folks that report they exercise several times a week, 47 percent are planning to purchase an activity tracker soon.” 

As smartwatches move out of the early adopter phase and become more mainstream, the focus on fitness-related activities has grown. When asked how important health/fitness was, 17 percent of smartwatch users considered it a passion, as compared to 13 percent of activity tracker users.

“The activity tracker became the device of choice for the middle-aged consumer looking to get in better shape by starting an exercise routine. But that’s not where the story has to end,” said Hold. “Claims that the smartwatch would lead to the death of the activity tracker have so far proved unfounded. With a longer battery life, activity trackers have a strong target audience and are continuing to evolve. That said, activity tracker companies must continue to broaden their portfolios to satisfy more exercise-focused consumers – combining specialist functions with generalist capabilities.”

As products evolve to include more exercise/sports-focused capabilities, the need for additional smart sensors is on the rise. According to the Activity Trackers and Sports Report, one in four consumers would be interested in purchasing active wear with built-in sensors. However, price is very much a consideration as four in five of those individuals said the price would need to be right (not considerably higher than clothing without sensors) in order to purchase.


*Source: Connected Intelligence Consumers & Wearables; May 2016

Press Contact

Megan Scott 

The NPD Group, Inc. 
900 West Shore Road 
Port Washington, NY 11050