Report: Wearables have a bright future

The wearable market is still in its infancy, but already 20 percent of U.S. adults own a wearable device and adoption is on the rise, according to a new report from PwC's Consumer Intelligence Series.

PwC surveyed 1,000 consumers, wearable technology influencers and business executives and monitored social media chatter to gauge wearable's impact and produce "The Wearable Future" report.

The promise of wearables has thus far not matched the hype; 33 percent of U.S. consumers who purchased a wearable technology device more than a year ago now say they no longer use it or do so infrequently. Price, privacy, security and lackluster content are consumers' main complaints. In fact, 82 percent of respondents were worried that wearable technology would invade their privacy, and 86 percent were concerned the technology would make them more vulnerable to security breaches.

Even so, 53 percent of millennials and 54 percent of early adopters said they were excited about wearables' future.

The implications for retail are profound, according to PwC, particularly with new, hotly anticipated products such as the Apple Watch on the horizon.

"Wearable technology will soon become an integral part of many retail experiences. It is poised to create an enhanced customer experience – better, more informed service; faster checkout; greater access to deals; and more real-time input into purchasing decisions," according to PwC. "Rather than shopping across multiple channels – at home, on-the-go or in-store – the new consumer experience will be omni-channel, fueled by wearable devices and comprehensive analytics."

An enhanced retail experience ranked fourth on the list of desired uses for wearables by millennials, after dietary, exercise and medical information. Fifty-one percent of millennials said this would be information they'd like to know, as did 45 percent of the general population.

Seventy-two percent of people surveyed said it was very important for wearable technology to improve customer service. This was especially true among time-pressed parents, 76 percent of whom wanted wearable tech to make shopping a more pleasant, efficient experience.

Consumers, especially millennials, desire wearable technology in the retail space to reward them for being faithful customers. One in two millennials said they would be strongly motivated to use wearables if it "has apps/features that reward those who frequently use it."

Retailers have much to gain in terms of co-op ad dollars and partnership opportunities. According to the report, "In-store merchandising and promotional spending by brands is a key source of funding for retailers. With wearable tech, the tremendous potential for synergies will increasingly expand not only into advertising but also into content marketing, with brands providing content to retailers that will improve the shopping experience."

"Wearable technology will slowly shift retail conventions as retailers will be able to connect the dots between pre-store and in-store behavior, and reach a new level of interconnected retail," said Scott Bauer, PwC's U.S. retail and consumer practice partner and omnichannel leader. "How consumers pay for purchases and interact with the retailer while in store is expected to be radically redefined by wearable technology and retailers cannot afford to ignore the impact it could have on their bottom line."

For more:
-See this PwC report

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