Nielsen: 70% of U.S. consumers have heard of wearables, but might not bite because of price

Wearable computing is still a nascent industry, although Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Samsung Electronics and others are doing their best to hurry it along. According to a new report form research firm Nielsen, most U.S. consumers are aware of such devices but might not buy them en masse because they are too expensive.

According to Nielsen's "Connected Life Report," 70 percent of consumers are already aware of "wearables," and about one in six (15 percent) of them currently use wearable devices--such as smart watches and fitness bands--in their daily lives.

Nielsen's research on who is using wearables right now is not that surprising, given the early stage of the market. The majority of wearables owners are young, with nearly half (48 percent) between 18-34 years old, and men and women are equally likely to use wearable tech. Fully three-quarters of wearables owners think of themselves as "early adopters" of technology (while only 25 percent consider themselves "mainstream" users of tech).

Another unsurprising finding it that these early adopters have a lot of disposable income, with 29 percent making over $100,000 per year. Nielsen found that fitness bands were the most popular devices (61 percent), followed by smart watches (45 percent) and mobile health devices (17 percent).

In what should be a boon to Google, which is trying to get its Android platform into wearables via its new Android Wear software, smart watch owners say the top reason they purchased their device was for convenience--and 35 percent said the purchase was to "supplement their smartphone addiction." However, 57 percent of fitness band buyers said the ability to self-monitor was a major factor, along with concern for their health and wellbeing.

In terms of the long-term forecast for wearables, research firm Juniper Research has forecasted that the retail revenue from smart wearable devices, including smart watches and glasses, will reach $19 billion by 2018 compared with $1.4 billion in 2013.

However, Nielsen suggests it will take some convincing and changes in pricing strategy to get average consumers to buy wearables. Nearly half of Americans surveyed expressed their interest in purchasing wearable tech in the near future, the research firm found, but 72 percent said they wish wearables were less expensive. Additionally, 62 percent said they wish wearables came in forms besides wrist bands and watches, and 53 percent wanted wearable devices that look more like jewelry.

Meanwhile, in terms of actual products, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is taking pre-orders for Samsung's trio of new wearables, which will start shipping in early April. AT&T is charging $299 for the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2, $199 for the Gear 2 Neo and $199 for the Gear Fit.

For more:
- see this Nielsen post
- see this Re/code article
- see this MediaPost article
- see this Engadget article

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