The hype around wearables has faded in the West, but in China, consumers are still excited about the prospect of purchasing a device and manufacturers continue to see a rise in sales.
In July 2016, a Deloitte survey on Chinese customers found 47 percent of respondents owned wearables. In the same survey, 54 percent said they would consider purchasing a wearable in the next 12 months, the second highest percentage after smartphones.
Part of the reason for the variant between Western and Chinese consumers is choice. In the U.S., a lot of the cheap wearables are marketed at fitness and health fanatics, while the more advanced smartwatches come at a premium rate for limited functionality.
Lots of cheaper choices in China
In China, there are plenty of inexpensive wearable choices from Xiaomi, Alibaba, BBK, Mobvoi, ZTE and others, some aimed at a specific audience, others built for a specific function, like mobile payments. What would cost the equivalent of $300 in the U.S. can be found for less than $100 in China, from multiple suppliers.
Chinese companies are not following trends set by U.S. or European companies, as they seem to in the smartphone industry. Some of the ideas, marketing, and functionality is truly original and focused on Chinese culture and consumer habits.
That’s also part of the reason it is hard, if not impossible, for wearable manufacturers to copy or replicate the success in China globally. China has a different cultural and commercial framework, and that does not tend to export well to Western audiences.