IDC survey finds nearly half of wearable device owners in the US are willing to switch brands


NEEDHAM, Mass., October 4, 2022 – Despite strong consumer loyalty in the US wearables market, a recent IDC survey shows the likelihood of switching brands in the future. Among smartwatch and fitness tracker owners surveyed, 42.2% said they were likely to switch brands, while that number jumped to 53.5% among current smart earphone owners. These results come at a time when the US wearables market is slowly moving towards maturity and slower growth, but the data shows that consumers are willing to consider other brands to meet their needs.

“The drive to rebrand presents both an opportunity and a challenge for wearables companies,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for Wearables at IDC. “With fewer new users available, companies are more than happy to lure customers away from their current brands to their own. But at the same time, companies are careful to retain their own customers. This puts pressure on companies to deliver the best in premium devices and experiences at compelling prices that both reach and retain customers.”

As part of this same survey, IDC asked consumers about what it would take for consumers to change the brand of their portable device. Here are the first three answers:

What would it take to switch smartwatch/fitness tracker brands?

Better battery life


Lower cost


Integration with other devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets and smart home devices)


Source: IDC Consumer Wearables Survey, June 2022. N=909

What would it take for you to switch brands of smart headphones?

Better battery life


More comfortable


Best fit


Source: IDC Consumer Wearables Survey, June 2022. N=1517

“Battery life has long been a challenge for portable devices,” Llamas continued. “Having to charge devices – whether smartwatches, fitness trackers or smart headphones – every day or every other day isn’t ideal, but it’s the norm that consumers have Faster charging certainly helps in this regard, but getting multiple days on a single charge would not only be ideal, but also a reason to switch brands.”

Beyond battery life, the main reasons for the switch diverge. For wristwatches, lower cost follows closely, but the desire for integration with other devices shows how users view their devices as part of an ecosystem of hardware and software to deliver seamless experiences. For headphones, getting the right comfort and fit – long touted as the main drivers for choosing a set of new headphones in addition to sound quality – would appeal to consumers. “This is where companies can start focusing their efforts to stand out in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace,” Llamas added.

The IDC presentation, Ownership of smartwatches and fitness trackers in the United States, 2022 (IDC #US49532522), looks at the ownership of smartwatches and fitness trackers in the United States. IDC surveyed 1,411 current smartwatch and fitness tracker owners about what brand of device they own, if it was the same brand as their smartphone, and how important it was to them that these brands matched, how likely they were to change brands, and what they would need to change.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the world’s leading provider of business information, consulting services and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,300 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on IT technology, benchmarking, and procurement, as well as industry opportunities and trends in more than 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight help IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based technology decisions and achieve their key business goals. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the global leader in technology media, data and marketing services. To learn more about IDC, visit Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC-Blog for industry news and insights.

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