Throughout the past two years that gap intelligence has tracked the wearables (smart wrist tracking devices that connect to your phone via bluetooth and/or wi-fi) market, I have noticed many trends of the category. Many products, styles and even manufacturers come and go. There are specific target markets that have tried and failed, and others that have obviously succeeded. However, one of the main things that I have noticed is that there has never appeared to be much of a focus on targeting the kids market.
Of the 2400+ wearable products within our product catalog, slightly over 1% is targeted towards children, including just 5 models that have been released in the past year. Additionally, only one major wearables manufacturer (Garmin) has dipped their toe into this space. Similarly, of all the wearables ads that gap intelligence has tracked over the past year, only 3 models have even been advertised; 2 by Garmin, the vivofit Jr. and its successor the vivofit Jr. 2, and the UNICEF Kid Power Band. You can see from these numbers that there are only a small fraction of kids wearables available on the market, and they clearly aren’t being advertised at a very strong rate.
I’ll admit, as a parent, the thought of buying a wearable for my child has crossed my mind. My 4-year old son is getting ready to head to kindergarten this Fall when he will naturally begin to gain more independence. I won’t be quite as aware of his whereabouts as I am now with him being in preschool, and the idea of this causes me to experience a very wide range of emotions, including worrying about his safety and where exactly he’ll be during the day. I wonder if a wearable could help ease my mind and why this market appears to be so underserved.
I polled all of the gap mothers to see if their kids have a wearable and/or if they would ever consider buying them one. I wanted to know if the other moms would consider purchasing one for their kid(s) and what features and functions seem to be the most desirable.
First, I’ll get into the main types of kid targeted wearables, and then talk about the results of my poll.
Types of Wearables Targeted to Kids
There are three main types of wearables for kids to wear – those focusing on fitness and step tracking, those that focus on safety and a parent’s ability to track their child’s whereabouts through GPS, and those that focus mainly on chore/task completion. These trackers usually come in fun colors or designs that are appealing to children. The trackers below that gap intelligence tracks all have the ability to sync to a user's smartphone – whether it be the child’s phone, the parent’s, or both.
Fitness Tracking -The most well-known tracker is probably the vivofit Jr. from Garmin, which is on its second version, the vivofit Jr. 2 ($79). This is a fitness focused device that tracks steps, and has a color screen that can be customized to different themes such as Batman, Disney or Star Wars. It also includes educational games and activities, as well as step challenges, chore management, and personal goals. This device does not have GPS tracking capabilities.
GPS Tracking – Another manufacturer that has a series of kids wearables is LG with its Gizmo series, which includes the GizmoGadget ($149) and the GizmoPal and GizmoPal 2 ($79). These models are targeted to parents interested in GPS tracking of their children, and they also have two-way communication. This wearable claims to “give your kids their independence while knowing where they are at all times”. The wearer can also make and receive calls from a select number of pre-set contacts.
Task Tracking – An example of a device that is geared more towards chore/task tracking is the Joy Octopus ($79). This is described by the manufacturer as “an icon based watch that empowers kids by teaching good habits and the concept of time”. This device sends children reminders to complete tasks, helps them stay on schedule, and assists in learning how to tell time.
Finding it somewhat strange that this is such a seemingly untapped market, I decided to poll the other gap intelligence moms to see if they would consider buying their children a wearable. With a total of seven responses, each mom with a child 4-years old or older, including myself, said that their child either already has a wearable or they would consider buying one for them. The only mom that said she would not consider buying a wearable, has the youngest child at only 18 months.
Of the six mothers who would purchase a wearable for their child, all six said they would be interested in the GPS tracking feature, while all six also mentioned that either they themselves or their child would be interested in also having fitness tracking capabilities.
Ironically, there are no kids wearables to date that have the ability to track fitness and have GPS capabilities. Call me crazy, but I think this might be a market worth getting into for some manufacturers out there and I know of at least 6 moms who would sign up to buy one!
When you consider the importance of safety and fitness for children, I personally think it’s clear that there is a market of children and their parents who would be eager to adopt kids wearables. Futher, bearing in mind current obesity rates of children in our country, it seems that fitness wearables in particular may be a very popular item for today’s parents. According to studies, 30% of children in the US are overweight or obese. This number is astonishing. Kids wearables could potentially create a cultural change if they were to be targeted towards children (and their parents). If enough people bought into these devices and what they are capable of, we could set goals for our children, remind them to stay active, and possibly even start to see that 30% decline.