Throughout my time at gap, I have had a role in many different categories. Most recently, I took over data operations management for the wearables category. Wearables is a fairly new category to gap intelligence and is also a bit unique. While most of the processes for each weekly category that we track are similar, the actual information such as market tendencies and category behaviors can be very different.
One of the main differences that quickly caught my eye when I became involved with wearables, was how many different brands seem to pop up each week. Every week there is at least one, if not more, new brands that are added to our reports. Often times I haven’t even heard of these manufacturers. You have your main players in the industry (Samsung, Apple, Fitbit, etc.), but the fact is that there are a lot of smaller players, and even fashion brands, trying to tap into the fitness tracker/smartwatch industry. I often see brands that began as Kickstarter campaigns. Some of them have made it big, such as Pebble, while others are barely on the radar, such as “What? Watch”, whom I’m guessing you have never heard of. Kate Spade, Guess, and Emporio Armani are a few of the fashion brands that have entered the market as well.
Industry Leaders Samsung, Apple, and Fitbit:
Kickstarter Brands Pebble and What? Watch:
Fashion Brands Kate Spade, Guess, and Emporio Armani:
Brands by the Numbers
I thought it would be interesting to compare the number of brands for wearables to different categories that we track at gap intelligence. Wearables is gap’s newest category, celebrating its first birthday this year, while many other CE categories have been around for 7+ years.
In almost one year, wearables has amassed a database of 1,583 total products. These products come from a total of 153 different brands. Some brands have as few as one product in our data, while others have over 100 different wearables models. This is quite a high number of brands in comparison to some of our other categories.
*Above chart includes number of brands since each category's inception. Tablets has more brands than wearables, but it also has almost four times as many products and has been a category for five years – for this reason, it has been excluded.
Wearables are relatively low cost to manufacturer, and according to Jackson Somes, gap intelligence’s wearables analyst, this is why he thinks the tech giants can continue to manufacture and sell these products at low margins. This also makes it easier for the smaller players and fashion brands to create partnerships or licensing agreements and see how they fair in the market. As long as smartwatches remain a growing tech product, I don’t expect to see a decline in the number of new brands added to the data each week.