In the pre-pandemic era, a smartwatch was considered to be a premium gadget for fitness enthusiasts, but now it has become a must-have for an individual. With COVID-19 enforcing sporadic lockdowns resulting in people leading a sedentary lifestyle after being bound to their homes, smartwatches as a category found a fancy amongst the Indian consumers. Driven by accessibility and affordability, the uptake of smartwatches during the pandemic increased, thanks to people getting more health-conscious and driven towards leading a fit and active life.
A reason for the smartwatch segment to receive this magnitude of attention is the increase in the disposable incomes of individuals. It is not just the youth, who are believed to be the early adopters of the latest technology, this time, the smartwatches have found an adopter right from Gen-Z and millennial to a senior citizen who is conscious of his own health. A smartwatch now tracks body vitals such as heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, etc. besides keeping a track of physical sports and activity. It can also alert people to take medicines on time and guide them in meditative breathing to relieve stress. These features became a handy reference for consumers during the COVID-19 period, which spurred the market of smartwatches in India. Where the market was dominated by multinational brands, the last two years have seen a beeline of Indian manufacturers who have become a dominant player in this segment.
Market Landscape and Opportunity
According to market leader Mr. Amit Khatri, Co-founder, Noise “The demand for wearables has skyrocketed in recent years, and it has helped us grow our business across the nation and expand our product portfolio with key launches. We, at Noise, have registered a growth of over 320% in the shipment of our wearable products year on year. As per the recent data from the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) India Monthly Wearable Device Tracker, Noise had led the Wearable Watch segment for the seventh quarter in a row.
The customers want a high-quality product with the latest technology and features. Apart from essential features like SPO2, heart rate monitor, and sports mode, they look for better battery longevity, a high-end display, more data analytics, and stylish aesthetics in emerging trends. Last year, we launched some of the key products like ColorFit Ultra (the path-breaking mightiest screen and display), X-Fit (in association with HRX), Brio (the lightest and the slimmest watch), and ColorFit Pro 3 Assist (with built-in Alexa). We can foresee the kids’ smartwatch segment picking up soon, and hence, ahead of the trends, we launched the Noise Champ Kids smartband last year.”
As per Counterpoint Research, the Indian smartwatches market witnessed an unprecedented growth of 274% in 2021. While 75% of the smartwatch shipments in the country were dominated by Indian companies. DIZO, a brand that was launched when the world was braving the second wave, witnessed all these shifts in consumer demands and its sales figures are testimony to India’s appetite for smartwatches.
Abhilash Panda, CEO of Dizo India said, “The smartwatch market is growing exponentially on the backdrop of rising health awareness, affordability and option of devices loaded with features and the sales driven by e-commerce websites during festivals. India’s smartwatch market saw a record growth of over 274% YoY in 2021 shipments, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT Service. Further, with quarter-on-quarter growth of over 8%, Q4 2021 became the market’s biggest-ever quarter. With pandemic-induced physical lockdowns and limited mobility, people started looking for fitness routines through home workouts and the need to monitor their fitness level through activities, calories burned, frequency of exercise, heart rate, steps, among others. This all sped up the demand for smart wearables and its growth in the country.”
While Komal Agarwal, Co-founder, Pebble said, “The growing awareness towards the health and fitness of people and the COVID-19 pandemic situation contributed to the rising demand. Accessibility due to the low price barrier and availability of quality tech are other key factors behind the growth. Of late we have also seen a shift from conventional watches to smartwatches amongst the millennials and Gen-Z. Smartwatches have now become a lifestyle gadget rather than just a watch. A smartwatch is not just a fitness gadget, but a lifestyle and fashion accessory now. Our product marketing strategy is built around this very fact. Our smartwatches are positioned as lifestyle products that can help you get the most out of the day and keep your fashion game one notch up. As a brand, we are trying to create an amalgamation of classic designs of the analog watch with the technology of a smartwatch. The market for a smartwatch is ever-evolving and the latest trend we can see would be high-end AMOLED displays, accurate health and fitness monitoring, and seamless integration of the smartwatch.”
It is estimated that the global market of smart wearables is expected to reach shipments of 776.23 million units by 2026. These numbers speak out very clearly about the future of smartwatches and yes, it is certainly the future of calling as so many innovations have taken place within the smartwatch category in a very short span of time.
Balancing Features and Specs to Price
Nowadays, smartwatches are designed with premium features while their prices have become affordable for the customers. This has made their lives easier and enabled them to handle their daily life activities right from their wrist. Today with a smartwatch, one can make and answer the calls right from their wrist. Not only calling but tracking fitness levels as well. From answering and making calls, checking notifications such as messages, calls, and payment transactions, to replying to messages right from our wrist, it has made life easier than ever before. Additionally, smartwatches also provide health insights and more to help you keep track of your physical health among other things. Smartwatches have become more of a necessity these days.
According to Counterpoint Research, the average selling price of smartwatches has dropped by more than 50% from a year ago, and the majority of these devices are now quite affordable to the customers. The most competitive and preferred price range for these smartwatches is between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 3,000, which accounts for around 40% of the entire market share in India. This decline in the price range has made consumers get hold of smartwatches without compromising on the quality and features.
Talking about aesthetics and sports-mode features, Mr. Rajesh Doshi, Director, Zebronics India Pvt. Ltd. said, “The smartwatches we offer include key health monitoring features, including a heart-rate monitor. A few models come with blood pressure and SpO2 as well. Apart from health monitoring, our smartwatches come in an elegant design with a colour screen and full-touch support. Many options are available in terms of straps, both in metal and silicon. The smartwatches are also available in plastic as well as metal build. As people are more involved in taking care of their physical and mental health after the pandemic, we have smartwatches addressing the new normal like oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and a heart-rate monitor.”
Corroborating the same, Mr. Sanjay Kalirona, CEO-Gizmore said, “From customer preference perspective market is moving very fast towards AMOLED screen, big display, calling feature, and smartwatch with internal memory but at the same time customer is expecting lowest price every time. Now customer price is coming down to Rs. 2,499 from previous costs of above Rs. 3,999.”
While many may think smartwatches are a high-end item, there have been multiple launches recently that come under the range of Rs. 3,000. Smartwatches make everyday tasks like Playing music, picking calls, scheduling alarms, etc. extremely easy as everything can be done by the tech accessory on your wrist. Additionally, smartwatches also provide health insights and more to help you keep track of your physical health among other things. Many smartwatches have special features like built-in storage and let you control your music right from your wrist. This allows users to enjoy their favourite music tracks without having to access the smartphone, and it also stores multiple watch faces and displays with a new photo each time you raise your wrist. These kinds of smartwatches have now become available in the price range of under Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 7,000.
While Mr. Ritesh Goenka, Managing Director, Just Corseca opined, “In today’s tech-loving culture, smartwatches are in fashion and they have become an on-the-go gadget for a variety of uses. Features like heart-rate monitors, pedometers, physical activity trackers (for running, swimming, cycling, etc.), blood pressure monitors, sleep monitors, etc. are the must-have features in every smartwatch. Technology and fitness are a great combination and due to the ongoing pandemic, everyone has become health conscious. Smartwatches offer great value as they track your heart rate, sleep, activity, and overall fitness level, which is the reason I believe in the rise of the smartwatch market.”
According to Mr. Hetal Shah, Co-Founder – Mobilla “There is a considerable chain of smartwatches led by the different segments, yet there is a slight vacuum between the Current Market Demand and devices. The Accurate Data needs to be flashed in the watch to successfully acquire the current market demand. Data such as SpO2, BPM, stress, step counting, and others should be accurate enough to build a sense of reliability. The potency of accuracy shall be possessed to suffice the current market demand.
Trends that are shaping up the market
The latest technology trend is voice assistance on smartwatches, as the voice has become a new and natural interface. Voice-powered apps are increasing day by day in their functionality, saving us from complicated navigation and supporting things. This trend is making things simpler and easier for an end-user to find the app’s menu. In recent years, the adoption of smart wearable devices has improved the growth of the AMOLED displays market. Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) is an energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technology in the display industry. Other features like faster response speed and longer battery life will also be in key advancements in smartwatches.
“The future is likely linked to its demand through hugely connected customers today. Any innovation that has a core motive to ease people’s lives and to enable them to manage all things in one place will definitely be accepted and adopted. Hence, many players in the smartwatch category are coming up with a calling feature now. We believe because the rise of IoT devices has been rapidly innovating, eSim will also become inseparable from small gadgets. It’s only a matter of time for devices to adopt electronic SIM and essentially remove the need to have a physical SIM card. With a smartwatch, one can make and answer the calls right from their wrist, not only calling but tracking fitness levels as well. So, everything has come under a small portable device that is saving a lot of time in today’s hustle-bustle.” said Aashish Kumbhat, Founder and Director, Inbase.
Commenting on the impetus to local manufacturing and announcement of the Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP) by the Indian government, Mr. A Gururaj, MD, Optiemus Electronics Ltd. said, “The focus of the Union Budget 2022 on the wearable segment of the Indian consumer electronics industry will be a game-changer for more and more investments to flow in for indigenous manufacturers of these devices. The smartwatch user segment in India is multiplying day by day with the availability of cheaper ones in the market. Smartwatch manufacturers are now focusing on more updated features aimed at monitoring new health parameters such as ECG, body temperature, etc. Wearables are in high demand among the young population in India, and the sector has been flourishing since domestic firms began producing smartwatches for the youth and gaining market share. According to IDC, the wearable market in India expanded by 93.8 percent in the third quarter of 2021, shipping roughly 23.8 million devices, with the smartwatch segment alone growing by 456.3 percent compared to the third quarter of 2021. Optiemus partnered with Noise, India’s leading lifestyle indigenous brand, for making products in India. We are excited to witness this enormous growth of the wearable segment in India for the years to come.”
While focusing on indigenous research and development Mr. Hamish Patel, Chief Product Officer, World of Play said, “The usage of digital fitness applications was already on the rise even before COVID-19 came and the pandemic fuelled its growth further. With futuristic technology at our disposal, we live in an era where the most exciting advances in future technology have changed our world and continue to amaze us, be it for improving health, security, Artificial Intelligence or just making entertainment better. At PLAY we have designed these modernistic gears to monitor heart rate, track sleep, monitor blood oxygen levels and plot data regarding calories burnt or steps walked. The devices also enable the user to play music, attend calls, watch their social messaging platforms or simply navigate their digital needs conveniently from the wrist-wear. Some interesting upcoming trends being worked at our design-lab include medical-level tracking, emergency care, and parenting surveillance.”
As per Mr. Guneet Singh, GM, Portronics Digital Pvt. Ltd. “The smartwatch market is heavily saturated. As a result, manufacturers try to evolve existing features and implement new ones in an effort to stay ahead of competitors. This constant evolution is a plus for the consumer, as a wide array of features become available in smartwatches. One of the features that enhance the consumer experience is alerts and notifications. Many other features rely on its ability to give users necessary notifications. These notifications could be from applications and connected devices alike, and could include business-related messages or notifications from social media channels, and more. Due to their features, smartwatches are regarded more like smart devices than however, these devices are still essentially watches.
“This segment has shown tremendous growth in recent years, as mentioned earlier. As India is a developing economy, the smartphone segment is growing rapidly which is equally boosting the smartphone accessories market. People are more involved in taking care of their physical and mental health after the pandemic, so we have smartwatches addressing the new normal like oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and heart rate monitor. There are more sports-based modes for better accuracy if you’re working out inside, on the elliptical, or at the gym.” said Mr. Rajesh of Zebronics.
According to Archit Agarwal, Co-founder, Crossbeats “The Indian wearable is currently on the road to becoming technologically at par with the West or China. The current market trends are driven by the youth who are the highest income group with a good disposable income and are willing to experiment. The market demand per se is inclined toward style, innovation, and monitors for SpO2, BP, step counter, etc. The growing trends would be the precision of these chips in monitoring and mapping collated data. Irrespective of whether it is a smartwatch for kids or adults, the focus must be on the quality of the product and small innovations to make it more useful and worthwhile.”
Smartwatches for Kids – The Next Disruptor
The last two years have been difficult for children alike. From not being able to visit their friends and play, go to school and enjoy their sports, it has become very essential for parents to ensure that their children engage in physical activities at home. While this was one part, parents were also worried about the impact of increased screen time on their children’s sleep schedule. Thus, the concern for their child’s well-being led to parents adopting smartwatches for their kids to monitor their day-to-day activities as well as the sleep cycle. According to the Global Kids Smartwatch Market report, the global kids’ smartwatch market size is projected to reach USD 2643.1 million by 2027, from USD 957 million in 2020.
“Kids smartwatches are bound to have widespread demand, especially owing to the health and fitness elements associated with it. Now with the smartwatches coming with in-built thermometers and other such trackers, keeping a tab on a child’s health both during his playtime or while he sleeps would be a very easy task. Also, features such as in-built games, of course with parental control, are the latest trends and are here to stay. The growing demand for smartwatches, in general, is majorly driven by health and fitness-related features. From steps and calorie tracking to sleep and SpO2 monitoring, smartwatches solve a lot of purposes.” said Achin Gupta, Country Head-India, ZOOOK.
Sharing his views on the future trend of smartwatches for children, Aashish Kumbhat, Founder and Director, Inbase said, “As children grow up, parents are always looking for ways to keep them safe. Kid’s smartwatches have become the latest trend in keeping the child safe while also providing them with a way to contact parents. These smartwatches come with interactive features that will help them get through an afternoon of boredom like 4G video calls, music, games, anti-theft, and parental controls. There is a big market potential for Kids Smartwatch as there is just a very few options available exclusively dedicated for kids. Recently we have launched a smartwatch for Kids Urban Fab and the response is amazing from kids.”
On a Final Note
With its rapid urbanization and increasing disposable income of the masses, India is a lucrative market for any business. The rapid adoption of smartwatches and fitness bands proves the same. With huge demand potential for smartwatches in India, the manufacturers will have to offer quality, innovative features, and localized flavours to ensure they reach a wider consumer base in a very price-sensitive market. Giving the impetus to the government’s Make-in-India initiative, several domestic manufacturers have made a mark in the smartwatch segment and they will drive the market by being consumer-centric for the coming years. We also predict that the kids’ smartwatch segment will also flourish in the next few years with specific features.