New Market Report: Watches in the US

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Mon Dec 01 2014

Smartwatches were first introduced into the US market in the early 2000s, but the technology of the era only provided for products that consumers deemed too expensive with poor usability. However, in 2013, major manufacturers felt that technological advances, and the subsequent changes in the cultural climate brought on by these advances, would allow for more commercial success in wearable technology. Of all manufacturers, Samsung was most aggressive in promoting its Galaxy Gear product, which serves as a wearable companion to Samsungís Galaxy smartphones and tablets. The Gear, and most other smartphones, comes equipped with a camera, a fitness-related tracker and some degree of phone and messaging capabilities. All of these products have been received with mixed reviews, with some consumers liking the direction of smart technology, whilst others still complain of poor usability. Whilst technically not a smartwatch, the Fitbit is a similar, more fitness and health-orientated wearable technology product that is worn around the wrist and shows the time. The Fitbit has received more positive reviews and has inspired several copycats, most notably Nikeís Fuelband. Euromonitor International does not currently provide data coverage for smartwatches and the market size for these products is negligible in comparison to mechanical and quartz watches. However, the cultural impact and growth potential of these products should be noted by anyone interested in the watches category; Timex has already announced its first smartwatch, dubbed the Ironman One, which will be available in late 2014.

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Competitive Landscape

Fossil continued to lead in the market in 2013 with 20% value share, which amounted to double that of its closest competitor. Fossilís strength and growing market share come largely from its licensing contracts with accessible luxury brands, and with Michael Kors in particular. This focus on "fashion watches" has resulted in a core consumer group largely composed of women, who purchase a watch as a fashion accessory for their wardrobe, rather than as an long term investment. The company has launched numerous lines to appeal to different customers with different incomes. At the lower end, the Fossil line is priced at under US$250, and uses materials such as ceramic and crystals. At the higher end, some of its Michele watches feature multiple diamonds, and are priced upwards of US$1,000. However, Fossil has most benefitted from its focus on accessible luxury, as the growing cultural preference for accessible luxury pushed Fossilís sales up by US$134 million from 2012 to 2013. This jump made Fossil the largest gainer of 2013.

Industry Prospects

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