A global survey from GfK suggests that one out of three people online (33%) currently monitor or track their health or fitness via an online or mobile application, fitness wearable, or smartwatch. As expected, the adoption levels in the 16 countries that were part of the survey varied. China led the pack with 45% of their online population tracking their health digitally. They were followed by Brazil and the United States (both at 29%), Germany (28%), and France (26%). In 11 of the 16 countries, adoption was greater in the male population relative to female. The age groups 20-29 and 30-39 had the highest levels of adoption with 39% and 41%, respectively. When asked why the respondents used health and fitness technology, the top responses were to maintain or improve physical condition or fitness (55%) and motivation to exercise. GfK conducted the online survey to more than 20,000 consumers aged 15 years or older.
With such a large and growing number of individuals embracing these technologies, employers would be wise to incorporate the consumer wellness technology movement into their corporate wellness programs rather than fight it. Often unknowingly, employers fight the movement by requiring the use of proprietary pedometers from a vendor, not integrating with the latest consumer technologies, and/or requiring the use of proprietary portals/apps that interfere with the consumer technology user experience. Survey results like this should direct employers to support, rather than compete, with the consumer technology market. The result will be better engagement at a lower cost.
An ongoing concern with wearable devices and digital health apps have been their ability to sustainably engage users. The survey results also sheds light on the retention challenges these technologies face. It revealed that 18% of people used health and fitness technologies in the past but do not currently use them. Many of these users will likely re-engage with the technology but how many is still unclear. This is an important consideration for employers looking to embrace the consumer technology movement. Employers should be concerned about building programs around these solutions, but a quick review into current employer-focused solutions will reveal that sustainable engagement is a far bigger issue with the current offerings that they are likely using.