Next to virtual reality, wearables are perhaps the most exciting thing happening in tech right now. As an agency we’ve been watching the product and communications strategies of these companies closely. And if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s—as some might say—we’ve got a long way to go, baby.
Case in point: I’ve had a lot of discussions lately with female friends about wearables. We all have disposable incomes, are tech savvy and health conscious to boot. You’d expect us all to be on the wearable train by now—and in fact, women represent 58 percent of prospective buyers. And yet, neither me or my friends have bought in. Why is that? Here are just a few reasons I’ve heard:
“Ugh, my wrists are too small.”
“They are so bulky—I look like a clown.”
And my personal complaint: I’m fashion conscious and don’t want to wear something on my wrist that says I’m trying to lose weight or aiming to be more connected than I already am. Sure it’s vain, but I have practical demands when it comes to style and I’m not going to apologize. To get me to buy, a wearable has to be a piece of jewelry first—a wearable second.
But wearable companies haven’t done a good job communicating their value proposition to women. Nor have they designed products that address their physical needs and aesthetic desires. In fact, 50 percent of users say how a wearable looks plays a huge factor in whether they’ll make a purchase.
Instead, the market is plagued by stuff that looks like this:
And these are just bracelets—not to mention other types of wearables like sunglasses, necklaces and shoes that could also attract women buyers.
All this brings me to an uncomfortable point: the wearable market today is male-centric—designed mostly by men, and mostly for men. No wonder women aren’t buying.
The one shining light is the recent partnership between designer Tory Burch and Fitbit:
Wait, that’s a Fitbit? My lady friends and I oohed and aahed when we saw this. Why? It doesn’t look like a wearable, might actually fit our wrists and would make our outfits look better vs. worse. Sure it retails for a hefty $195, but then again it’s two useful things in one. Sign me up, Scotty!
And that, wearable companies, is how you double your market share.
So if you’re in wearables and want to be successful (which I imagine you do), for the sake of womankind and your own financial future it’s time to start plotting out how you’ll address your better halves—both through your product’s design and the marketing of it. While you do have to start somewhere and sometimes that means sacrificing style for function, the companies that succeed in this market will be considering these issues from day No. 1.
Because for prospective buyers like me, just having something functional that does cool things will never be enough.