Fitness Craze Fuels Indian Demand for Smartwatches


Smartwatches Witness Tremendous Growth in India Amidst Pandemic

Smartwatches in India are experiencing a surge in popularity, driven by a pandemic-induced shift in consumer awareness about health and fitness. Shipments have quadrupled to reach a record high in the July-September quarter. Anshika Jain, Senior Research Analyst at Counterpoint, states that the third quarter of 2021 was the biggest quarter for smartwatches, attributing the change in customer preferences to the impact of COVID-19.

Consumers are now shifting from traditional watches to smartwatches, primarily due to their desire for health-related features. Features such as step tracking, SPO2 level monitoring, heart rate measurement, and sleep pattern analysis have become a crucial factor in the decision to purchase a smartwatch. The appeal of these health-related functions has expanded beyond younger generations and is also attracting older individuals.

In the overall wearables market, which includes earwear, watches, and wristbands, watches have emerged as the fastest-growing category with 4.3 million shipments in the third quarter. However, wristbands, which offer lower functionality, have experienced a seventh consecutive quarter of annual decline, according to data released by IDC.

Madhav Sheth, CEO of realme India and president of realme International Business Group, highlights the transformation of fitness trackers and smartwatches into a “necessity” during the COVID-19 pandemic. While these products were initially popular among fitness or tech enthusiasts, they have now become an essential part of people’s lives.

Amit Khatri, co-founder of Noise, points out that the growth in demand for smartwatches is also fueled by the increase in productivity they offer. Users can access a variety of apps directly on their smartwatches, read messages, and even take calls without the need to take out their phones. This convenience is particularly appealing to individuals who are constantly on the move or while driving.

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Indian brands currently dominate the smartwatch segment, securing nearly 75% of the market share in the last quarter, compared to 38% in the same period the previous year. Anshika Jain notes that the entry price of smartwatches has significantly decreased from around ₹8,400 last year to approximately ₹5,400 now. This reduction in price has attracted first-time buyers to join the smartwatch trend.

Brands are currently focusing on differentiating themselves based on the aesthetics and overall feel of their products, rather than emphasizing specifications. However, as the market evolves, the performance and accuracy of features such as blood pressure measurement, SPO2 monitoring, thermal sensors, and user interface smoothness will become pivotal in distinguishing one brand from another.

Amit Khatri believes that the growth experienced by the smartwatch segment is sustainable, considering the relatively low penetration rate. With smartwatches currently penetrating only 4-5% of the mobile phone market, capturing 15-20% would be a realistic target for brands to aim for in the near future. Madhav Sheth echoes this sentiment, stating that the demand for smartwatches will continue to increase as they become more seamlessly integrated with smartphones, laptops, earbuds, and other devices, offering users a connected and convenient lifestyle.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly influenced the surge in demand for smartwatches in India. Consumers are prioritizing health features, productivity-enhancing capabilities, and seamless connectivity when choosing a smartwatch. Indian brands have capitalized on this trend, dominating the market with their lower-priced, visually appealing products. As the market continues to evolve, the focus will shift towards the performance and accuracy of health-related features and user interface satisfaction. With significant headroom for growth, the future of smartwatches in India looks promising.

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