Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Wrist-worn technology boost for mental health

Steve Rogerson
December 11, 2018



More than half of UK wrist-worn technology owners say the device has improved their mental health. And 72% say the device has improved their physical health, according to a survey by Mintel.
 
The survey also found that 71% of users say they exercise more often since buying their gadget, and that 4.2 million wrist-worn devices are forecast to be sold in 2018.
 
These are the devices that have created a step-loving nation, but now it seems these gadgets have gone beyond improving physical health, as the research reveals that 55% of UK wrist-worn technology owners believe their devices have also benefited their mental wellbeing.
 
Those mostly likely to say they have reaped the mental health benefits of these devices are consumers aged 16 to 34 (61%); while men (57%) are more positive than women (52%) about the impact of wrist-worn devices on mental health. Meanwhile, an impressive 72% of fitness tracking wearable users say their devices have helped improve their physical health, while 71% say they exercise more often since buying their gadget.
 
Mintel research finds that the nation is well and truly hooked on these smart devices, with some six in ten (59%) wrist-worn technology users wearing them daily. A further one in five (18%) are using these devices three-to-six days a week. Just seven per cent have stopped using their wrist-worn technology.
 
“Wrist-worn technology began with a fitness focus and an emphasis on tracking speed, distance and calories, but now the technology has moved beyond these initial functions,” said Andrew Moss, technology analyst at Mintel. “While quantifying improvements in this area is difficult, Brits feel strongly that this technology can help improve their mental health. This perception is likely to be the result of an increased focus on physical health among device owners, as improvements here can have a knock-on effect on mental health and overall wellbeing. However, these devices also offer more concrete benefits by allowing users to track sleep and stress levels, and by supporting participation in mindfulness and calming exercises.”
 
Just under one in five (18%) Brits now owns a fitness band or sports watch, up from 14% in June 2017, with ownership peaking among consumers aged 25 to 34 (28%). Meanwhile, around one in ten (11%) owns a smartwatch, up from nine per cent in June 2017. Men (14%) are almost twice as likely as women (8%) to own one, and ownership peaks among 25 to 34 year olds (21%).
 
One in five (19%) Brits plans to buy a fitness band or sports watch in the next year, with around the same number planning to purchase a smartwatch (18%). While ownership of wearable cameras (5%) and smart earbuds (5%) is relatively low, the popularity of these devices is set to shoot up next year with more than one in ten (12%) consumer stating that they plan to buy either of these devices.
 
Overall, Mintel forecasts that total volume sales of wrist-worn devices will hit 4.2 million in 2018, up from just under four million in 2017.
 
“As major manufacturers continue to innovate and offer annual updates in line with their smartphones, the wearable technology market is likely to keep expanding for several years,” said Moss. “Longer term, the main limiting factor will be whether people simply prefer more stylish, traditional watches over devices that could become technologically outdated within a few years. However, the benefits of easily tracking health and fitness, alongside on-board music storage, could motivate many to buy a smartwatch as well as a traditional watch.”
 
Research was carried out among 2000 internet users aged 16 or above in September 2018.