Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

China leads way in fitness wearables, says GfK survey

Steve Rogerson
October 11, 2016
China is leading the way using wearables to monitor health and fitness, with 45 per cent of the online population monitoring or tracking their health or fitness via an online or mobile application, or via a fitness band, clip or smartwatch, according to market watcher GfK
The international survey, conducted online in 16 countries, showed one in three people monitoring their health in this way.
After China came Brazil and the USA, with 29 per cent each, closely followed by Germany (28 per cent) and France (26 per cent).
In most countries studied, men are ahead of women in this activity, but five countries stand out as having a higher percentage of their female than their male online population tracking their health and fitness in this way: China (48 per cent of women, compared to 43 per cent of men), Russia (21 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men), France (27 and 25 per cent), Australia (20 and 18 per cent), and Canada (20 and 19 per cent).
Those aged 30 to 39 and 20 to 29 years old are most keen on tracking their health and fitness, standing at 41 and 39 per cent of each age group, respectively. However, teenagers (15-19 year olds) and the 20-29 year olds both show almost a quarter of their numbers saying that, while they do not currently monitor their health or fitness in this way, they have done so in the past. This suggests potential for bringing this significant number of past users back into the market, given the right offers or messages by retailers or manufacturers.
Over half (55 per cent) of those who are tracking their health and fitness said one of the reasons they did it was "to maintain or improve my physical condition or fitness", making this the most popular reason internationally. The next most widespread reason is motivating themselves to exercise, selected by half (50 per cent).
Several of the reasons given are a reminder that users of these trackers value them for benefits that are not exclusive to the world of sports. Over a third give "to improve my energy levels" or "to motivate myself to eat and drink healthily" as a reason for tracking their health or fitness, while 29 per cent say to improve sleep and a quarter say to be more productive. In addition, 22 per cent say because it is fun. Only 14 per cent of those currently tracking their health or fitness say they are doing it to train for an event.
In answer to the question of why they are tracking or monitoring their health or fitness, those surveyed said:

  • To maintain or improve my physical condition or fitness, 55%
  • To motivate myself to exercise, 50%
  • To improve my energy level, 35%
  • To motivate myself to eat and drink healthily, 34%
  • To improve sleep, 29%
  • Because it's part of my daily routine, 29%
  • To lose weight, 29%
  • To be more productive, 24%
  • Because it's fun, 22%
  • To monitor or track a specific health condition, 17%
  • To train for an event (race, sport and so on), 14%
  • To compete with other people, 8%
  • For some other reason , 2%
  • Not sure, 1%
"These findings demonstrate the attraction that health and fitness monitoring has within much wider groups than just the obvious young sports players,” said Jan Wassmann, global lead for wearables research at GfK. “Manufacturers and retailers can use these insights – combined with our point-of-sales data on purchases of wearable devices – to understand who are their real-life users and why, and tailor their products to deepen that appeal."
GfK conducted the online survey with over 20,000 consumers aged 15 or older across 16 countries. Fieldwork was completed in summer 2016. Data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population aged 15 and over in each market. Countries covered were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, UK and USA.