A new report confirms that Americans really love their gadgetry, buying almost twice the number of smartwatches and fitness wearables than Western Europeans.

An article by cites a recent report by research firm Kantar Worldpanel that broke down wearable buying patterns in the U.S. compared to Europeans. The report found that an average of only 6.6% of consumers in the EU4 nations (Germany, France, the U.K. and Italy) owned a fitness device or smartwatch compared to a hefty 12.2% of those in the U.S.

Europe prefers smartwatches over fitness wearables

American shoppers by far preferred fitness bands (75%) over smart watches (22.9%). The U.S. market was dominated by Fitbit which commands a 61.7% share, followed by Apple’s 6.8%. The Kantar report credited Fitbit’s dominance to its communication of “a clear and simple value proposition to consumers.”

“For both smartwatch and fitness band buyers – brand, ease of use, and functionality are the top drivers of purchase, outweighing both design and cost,” said Kantar Worldpanel wearable tech analyst Shannon Conway.

Meanwhile, Europeans showed a slight preference for smartwatches (55.2%) over fitness wearables. An interesting detail in the report revealed that 39% of all smartwatches purchased by Europeans were to replace non-connected timepieces, indicating that the competition between smartwatches and traditional watches is heating up.

Overall EU4 wearable penetration is lower than the U.S., though Italians are proving almost as enthusiastic for the new tech as Americans. The adoption of wearables in Europe was topped by Italy (10.3%) followed by the U.K. (7.9%), Germany (5.4%) and a trenchantly unconnected France (4.6%).

As ReadWrite has noted this week, even if Americans are outspending Europeans on this trend today, wearables interest from clothing, watchmaking and fitness firms are looking to a future when Europe and the rest of the world start playing catch-up.

VC firm Woodside Capital Partners predicts global shipments of fitness wearables to grow “from 19.6 million units in 2014 to 126.1 million in 2019, investment in the segment that includes fitness and health wearables are growing at light speed.”

Nokia’s recent purchase of French consumer wearable-maker Withings and Fossil’s acquisition of health-stat trackers Misfit – which may be have been behind that firm’s recent earnings miss – are just two recent deals of note.


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