Wearable technology: A new meaning to beauty-on-the-go

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Wearable technology in APAC cosmetics industry
With urban Chinese consumer interest building for wearable devices, we explore how the beauty industry can take developments forward in 2017.

In January, we reported how the beauty and personal care industries are expected to build strategies that incorporate the wearable tech segment, as it forms one of the year’s growing trends​. 

Tackling perceptions

In China, 43% of urban consumers would buy wearable devices for themselves, with this number increasing to 48% within the 20-24-year-old demographic, market research company, Mintel reveals.

Delon Wang, Manager of Trends APAC at Mintel, stated how this exploration of innovative technologies will be guided by “beauty experts, influencers and health professionals, [who] will still play a strong role in helping consumers make that decision".

While over two in five (43%) of Chinese consumers living in urban towns and cities would make a wearable purchase, only 32% of consumers agree that wearable devices are fashionable, with this figure dropping to 27% for 20-24 year-olds.

As leading cosmetics companies move into this new age of technology, marketing messages need to appeal to desired audiences to ensure the gap between transformative technologies and perceptions around fashion and style is narrowed; and wearable devices grow in appeal.

Smart wristbands vs. Smartwatches

Mintel reported how in China today, 52% of urban shoppers have purchased a smart wristband for themselves and 42% own a smartwatch. The statistics show that these buyers are loyal to the technological trend as 69% of consumers who own a smartwatch owners also have smart wristbands.

It’s been estimated that the sales volume of smart wristbands in China grew 109% from 2015 to 2016. However, sales of smartwatches have seen the reverse effect with purchasing numbers dropping by 37%. Despite this contrast, the overall total volume of smart wristbands and smartwatches sales is thought to have gone up by 66.8% last year.

Achieving growth

Now that this demand is present, brands are having to work hard to formulate innovate ideas: “There’s no doubt that young people are now increasingly accepting of the idea of wearable technology, but the wearables market is facing a challenge to sustain growth,”​ said Terra Xu, Senior Technology Analyst at Mintel.

“This is due to the lack of breakthrough products and the wide ownership of smartphones that are already equipped with similar functions to wearable devices. This is especially the case for smart wristbands and smartwatches, as a result, the need for innovation and low entry prices are now becoming key.”

As virtual reality (VR) enters the mainstream market, Mintel’s research shows that 97% of urban Chinese consumers are very interested or somewhat interested in at least one type of VR application.

Demographic differences are key

Male and female consumers differ when it comes to using wearable technology: male consumers are more interested in playing VR games (39%) and virtual test rides (31%), while female consumers want to use VR applications to help online shopping such as viewing and making purchases in virtual shops (35%).

As brands seek to satisfy the demands of its consumers, it’s vital they stay up to date with the latest technological trends: “Consumers are interested in virtual and augmented reality technology.”

Just as importantly, brands also need to explore the segment to understand how different demographics want to access the VR and AR market, Xu concluded: “While male and female consumers have different interest points, VR and AR technology can still be an effective tool to draw consumer attention.”

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