Sporty, Posh or… What Type of Wearable Fits You? A Conceptual Framework for Consumer’s Adoption of Wearable Devices: An Abstract
Wearables are small computing devices that can be attached to different parts of the human body and offer varied functionality such as activity tracking, mobile phone connectivity, and medical monitoring (Jung et al., 2016). Among the most popular types of wearables are smartwatches, activity trackers, and health monitors. Demand for wearables is estimated to grow, with sales over $50 billion predicted by 2019 (Choi & Kim, 2016).
Regardless of the growing interest in wearables, recent reports indicate that the market faces challenges due to (1) the small number of product options that have been brought to market thus far, (2) consumers’ limited understanding of how the devices work, (3) weak differentiation between wearables and smartphones, and (4) limited success thus far in showing consumers how these devices can deliver added value (PwC, 2014, 2016). Consumer-centered design of wearables could help to address some of these issues, but as Choi and Kim (2016) emphasize, consumer-centric research in this context is limited.
We deploy a grounded theory approach to address the identified research gaps and explore the managerial opportunities of wearables (Charmaz, 2006; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Our aims are to (1) review existing literature to identify different types of existing and emerging wearables and classify these tools based on marketing concepts, (2) understand product attributes consumers view as differentiation factors in wearable design, (3) propose a conceptual framework for wearable adoption and the creation of competitive advantage, and (4) provide insights for practitioners on design and positioning of different wearable products.
Our research evolved around existing sources of textual data about wearables (Kumar & Noble, 2016). We analyzed articles published in existing business magazines (e.g., Forbes, the New York Times; n = 37) and online wearable reviews (n = 400) and followed up with interviews with wearable sales representatives (n = 10).
Building on product design literature featuring product form, function (esthetics), and ergonomics (Bloch, 1995; Homburg et al., 2015; Jindal et al., 2016), we propose taxonomy for wearable differentiation based on (1) well-being, (2) technology, and (3) fashion. Then, we propose a conceptual framework for wearable adoption, where a wearable type (as indicated by our taxonomy) is a crucial factor affecting perceived wearable consumer (in)congruence and subsequent consumer responses.