Fashion, function key to wearable tech appeal: survey

Sony SmartWatch 2 during the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE)

Sony SmartWatch 2 during the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE)


, Last Updated: 4:54 PM ET

Nearly three quarters of consumers are now aware of wearable technology devices and one in six, in the US at least, are already sporting a fitness band, health tracker or smartwatch. However, if the gadgets hope to go mainstream they are going to have to be as stylish and affordable as they are functional.

Nielsen's latest study into the state of the wearable technology market in the US reveals that the devices are starting to appeal to younger consumers.

Of the 15% of the 3,956 respondents that claim to already use the gadgets, 48% are under 35 and there is a roughly 50:50 split between men and women. But as well as being younger, financial security is also a defining factor among early adopters, with 29% of wearable technology adopters earning $100,000 US or more a year.

And cost appears to be a serious obstacle that these devices are going to have to overcome if they want to become the next big thing. While 70% of U.S. consumers are now aware of wearable technology and nearly half of those surveyed expressed an interest in buying their first wearable tech device this year, 72% of all respondents said they wished they were less expensive.

Current designs are also a big issue -- 62% of those surveyed wish that the devices came in forms other than wristbands and watches, and over half (53%) want them to look more like pieces of jewelry.

As for existing early adopters, fitness bands are the most popular device (61%) followed by smartwatches (45%) and mobile health devices (17%). And their thoughts and feeling about the gadgets mirror the views of those yet to make a purchase.

Smartwatch owners say that the device had to meet their needs and their sense of style. While the top reason for buying the device was convenience, the biggest consideration for choosing which make or model was functionality (81%), followed by comfort (79%).

For fitness band owners, accuracy (70%) and battery life (64%) are the biggest considerations when choosing a specific model but the greatest motivation behind adopting wearable tech was found to be the ability to self-monitor.