Wearable fitness trackers aren’t new to the market. When my dad adopts the technology, you know it’s been around for a while (I have to admit, I still don’t have one). However, in order to keep interest levels up, companies such as Fitbit and Garmin are continuously updating and adding new features to their wearable products. What once started as a basic pedometer, has morphed into a watch, GPS, and social network/motivation tool. And it’s working.

According to the NPD Group, dollar and unit sales of wearable fitness trackers grew 110% and 85% respectively from 2014 to 2015. Although I was never interested in owning a fitness tracker a few years ago, I have to say it is much more enticing as the capabilities expand, and the styles evolve.

Consumers anticipate this growth will continue. Since September of 2014, we have asked more than 45,000 U.S. adults to predict the future popularity of wearable fitness trackers:

Fitness trackers - topline popularity 2016

Since we have been tracking this data for almost two years, we are able to view a trend line to see how responses have changed over time:

Fitness trackers - popularity trendline 2016

The biggest change: More people have formed an opinion on whether fitness trackers will become more popular or less popular in the next year.

The number of individuals who believe trackers will become more popular increased from 33% in 2015 to 35% in July of 2016. Those who believe they will decrease in popularity went from 12% in 2015 to 16% in July of 2016.

Overall, the “Less popular” answer choice is increasing at a higher rate than the “More popular” answer choice. But, adults are still 2X more likely to answer with more popular than less popular. Based on the number of people who are in the market for an activity tracker, it looks like fitness tracker brands and manufacturers have been successful in keeping consumers interested in the technology.

Let’s take a look at who’s in the market for their first wearable activity tracker.

After asking close to 18,000 adults about their fitness tracker ownership from the beginning of May 2016 to mid-July 2016, we were about to find and profile consumers who are interested in purchasing an activity tracker.

Fitness trackers - ownership topline 2016

18% of adult consumers already own a wearable fitness tracker, with the majority using their device often. They could be in the market for another down the road, but the individuals who should get the most attention are the 7% who responded: “I don’t own one, but plan to buy one.” These consumers are currently in the market for a wearable fitness tracker.

So what can we learn about these consumers? Are they typical tech laggards like my dad, or are they consumers more like myself?

Adults in the market for fitness trackers:


  • 64% are women
  • 36% are Millennials
  • Their income is very similar to the general adult population
  • 41% are parents, which is slightly more than others:

Fitness trackers - ownership parental status

Health & Fitness

  • They are 53% more likely to follow trends and current events in health and fitness
  • They are 39% more likely to regularly do aerobic / cardio activities when exercising
  • 45% exercise several times a week which is slightly less than the 51% of fitness tracker owners who exercise weekly:

Fitness trackers - ownership exercise


  • They are 44% more likely to value mobile and tablet apps
  • They are 28% more likely to view online reviews before making a purchase
  • They are almost 2X more likely to regularly make purchases on their tablet

Social Media

  • They are 43% more likely to use Twitter daily or weekly
  • They are 75% more likely to use Pinterest daily or weekly
  • 37% say social media influences their electronics purchases, which is 54% more likely than the general population

It turns out consumers in the market for an activity tracker are more similar to me than they are to my dad, which surprised me. They don’t seem to be the typical laggards who are slow to adopt technology.

Since potential buyers check online reviews and are influenced by social media, wearable fitness brands should focus on having a strong presence on social media, and they should encourage people to post their opinions and performance online. Seeing their friends and contacts talking about the trackers may push these potential customers to make a purchase.

Overall, it’s looking pretty good for wearable fitness tracker companies. Consumers are still willing to buy fitness trackers and they expect the popularity to increase in the future.