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Older Americans Drive Growth of Wearables

In 2019, 1 in 5 internet users will use a wearable device

December 13, 2018 (New York, NY) – If you’re still looking for a holiday gift for a parent or grandparent, a wearable device could be well-received. Americans 55 and older are the fastest-growing group of electronic wearable users in the US, according to eMarketer’s latest wearables forecast, largely due to the devices’ enhanced health features.

In 2019, 8.2 million Americans age 55 and older will use a wearable device*, up more than 15% over this year. While the group still represents a small share of users, it has the highest growth rate among all age groups. In fact, eMarketer has increased its projections for older Americans due to faster-than-expected adoption of wearable devices.

“Wearables like smartwatches are now coming equipped with additional health features, which are especially appealing to older Americans,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu.  “The Apple Watch Series 4 is outfitted with some major enhancements, including ECG [electrocardiography] readings and fall-detection features.”

In 2019, 60.5 million people total will use a wearable device in the US, up 9.2% over this year.  While wearables are still far from mainstream, usage will reach a milestone next year—more than one in five (21.2%) internet users will use a wearable device.

Smartwatches are a key driver of wearable usage. Next year, just over half of wearable users age 18 and older will use a smartwatch, translating to 28.7 million adults. Also next year, the percentage of US adults that will use a smartwatch will cross 10% (11.1%) for the first time.

“Continuous improvements in design and functionality are key drivers of smartwatch adoption,” Liu said. “Specifically, LTE connectivity will be a huge driver, as it allows smartwatch users to stay connected while leaving their phones behind. Other improvements, like longer battery life, larger screens and new health features, will be sure to attract new users.”



*at least once per month; individuals of any age who wear accessories or clothing embedded with electronics, software or sensors that have the ability to connect to the internet (via built-in connectivity or tethering), which in turn collects and exchanges data with a manufacturer, operator or other connected devices.

Wearables include items such as activity trackers, smart bands, smart clothing, smart glasses, smart headphones, smartwatches and virtual reality headsets. The device must have features that can be used without being tethered to a smartphone, PC or other internet-connected device.



eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


About eMarketer
Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world. eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy. eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research, including forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally. In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.


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Douglas Clark
PR Director, North America

Posted on December 13, 2018.