apple iwatchNearly three quarters (74 percent) of Americans are likely to buy health and fitness devices in the next 12 months, according to the latest research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Of those, one in three (35 percent) intends to buy a smartwatch.

Ranking second in terms of purchase intent was fitness-related apps, with 30 percent of those planning health and fitness technology purchases saying they intended to purchase them over the next 12 months. Dedicated wearable fitness activity trackers and smart apparel followed at 27 percent each, while 23 percent expressed their intention to purchase sleep-tracking devices.

Health and Fitness Device Survey
The results are published in CTA’s ¨U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts¨ report. CTA recently changed its name. It was formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

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Looking at the consumer health and fitness device category in aggregate, CTA forecasts sales will reach $1.8 billion in 2015, 18 percent higher than last year’s level. Sales will increase another 10 percent in 2016, according to CTA.

Unsurprisingly, the top reason online U.S. adults cited for buying a health and fitness device was to improve their health. A recommendation from a friend ranked second, followed by good reviews and then the right features for their lifestyles.

The results of CTA’s qualitative and quantitative research shows that using health and fitness devices leads people to feel they are more successful in setting personal health and fitness goals and tracking progress, as well as improving their lives, CTA senior director of market research Steve Koenig was quoted in a press release.

Planned purchases also indicate market segmentation is occurring within the market segment ¨as the industry strives to address multiple needs of the ´quantified´self,¨Koenig added.

Among those who plan to purchase health and fitness devices primarily for fitness reasons, 61 percent rank monitoring calories burned as the most important product feature. Monitoring heart rate ranked second at 52 percent. Steps taken (42 percent), distance (34 percent) and blood pressure monitoring (23 percent) followed.

Health users ranked monitoring heart rate as the most important device feature, with 58 percent saying it was most important. Monitoring calories burned ranked second at 48 percent, blood pressure third at 47 percent, steps taken fourth at 28 percent, and distance traveled fifth at 21 percent.

Suggestions from family or friends (44 percent) was the primary influence survey respondents cited for purchasing a health and fitness device. This was followed by online suggestions (17 percent), recommendations from medical professionals (11 percent), a corporate wellness program (four percent), and a store salesperson (4 percent).

Security Concerns
Turning to security, CTA found that most respondents were open to sharing their fitness data with doctors and medical professionals first and foremost, but also among family and friends.

Furthermore, CTA found that most respondents already share nearly all their health information with medical professionals. That said, they’re worried about security and data breaches. They also understand the value of collecting and having access to data over long periods of time and believe they can act upon such statistics effectively by sharing them with physicians.

Addressing consumers’ online security concerns, CTA and its members have published ¨Guiding Principles on the Privacy and Security of Personal Wellness Data

“The potential of securely harnessing valuable health data will have a transformative impact on our lives – from the ability to identify early-onset diseases, offer preventive health benefits, assist in managing chronic conditions and provide more effective remote care of your loved ones,” commented Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., CTA chief economist and senior director of research.

“Consumers see the potential for benefits from sharing health and fitness data with friends, family and medical professionals and they expect privacy to be balanced with those benefits.”

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