Millennials hold the key — or, perhaps, the purse strings — to the future of the wearable technology sector.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' The Wearable Future report published on Tuesday, 53 percent of Millennials say they are "excited" about the future of wearable tech, or more simply, wearables.
Health and fitness has been at the forefront of the wearable tech movement thus far, but PwC researchers point toward bigger opportunities to be found in entertainment and media.
Social media might be a more obvious use case — especially for younger demographics. Gaming could also be a major draw for wearables as 64 percent of Millennials affirmed video games as a motivation to buy. These two verticals coupled with retail supported PwC to advise on the potential boon for digital advertising to drive e-commerce.
PwC researchers wrote:
The rise of wearable devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass will create new avenues for marketing, including smarter, more robust customer data collection — and stronger insights into user interaction. Digital marketers will be able to more easily gather and analyze information on the buying habits and locations of consumers. New payment platforms like Apple Pay also stand to dramatically change the efficacy of targeted advertising.
While many reports continuously offer forecasts for the growth — or even the pending arrival — of the wearables market, PwC figures suggest those days have already arrived since a fifth of American adults were said to already own a wearable tech device.
Furthermore, PwC found wearables adoption to be on par with the rise of tablets in 2012, suggesting that wearables will be mainstream within the next year. PwC subscribed to the prediction that wearables sales could topple 130 million units in 2018.
Salesforce.com, betting big on bringing wearables into the workplace through its Salesforce1 platform, has repeatedly championed a slightly higher estimate from Gartner.
However, there are some glaring hurdles — some of which are routine stumbling blocks for any new form factor. For example, PwC noted one third of its survey pool that purchased a wearable tech product more than a year ago admitted "they no longer use the device at all or use it infrequently." Researchers explained that the wearables (predominantly fitness bands and smart watches) were described to have "under-delivered on expectations."
Looking forward, wearables tech makers have even bigger questions to answer even beyond the initial use case and performance objectives. PwC highlighted privacy and security as chief among consumer apprehensions. Specifically, 82 percent of respondents feared "wearable technology would invade their privacy" while 86 percent speculated if wearables would make them more vulnerable to security breaches.
To this, PwC researchers advised security vigilance not only among consumers and manufacturers, but also enterprise IT departments as these mobile devices trickle (or even flood) into the workplace.
New wearable gadgets mean enterprises will need to embolden their IT departments. Aggressive enterprises may task them with developing apps for new systems or entirely new products, but even conservative enterprises will need an IT team to be prepared to integrate emerging technological devices into the company system and adapt accordingly.
For reference, PwC researchers surveyed 1,000 consumers, business executives and "wearable technology influencers" on top of scanning social media channels to observe consumer behavior and the implications for entertainment, media and communications, health, retail and technology.
PwC defined the Millennial generation as the current 18 to 24 age bracket.
Images via PricewaterhouseCoopers