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Watches to beat phones in festive season


NEW DELHI : Wearables are set to become the fastest growing product categories among consumer electronics, including smartphones, this festive season and this year, largely because of their lower average selling prices which will not impact consumers’ wallets as much as other product categories that have seen prices go up amid inflation and higher input costs.

Trend spotters are expecting consumers to buy wearables, smartwatches, wireless headphones or buds, over smartphone this festive season because the price points of about $45 a piece would pinch their pockets far less than an upgrade to a new device or even buying a new home appliance.

“This season is going to be tough all across except wearables and hearables because the consumer’s wallet has been hit with prices of daily use products having adversely impacted household budgets. We expect these categories to be the only ones that will see growth among consumer electronics or home appliances,” said Navkendar Singh, associate vice-president for devices research at IDC India, South Asia & ANZ.

Smartwatch and wireless headset makers BoAt, Noise, Fire-Boltt, OnePlus, and Realme, which have cornered 66% of the market by volume, have seen market size increase by 65% over last year to 38 million units, indicating a proportionate rise in the number of buyers for their products in the first half of this year from the same period of the previous year.

IDC expects the market size for this category to rise to a record 90 million units in 2022, nearly three times more than the 34.4 million units shipped in 2021. In comparison, smartphone shipments in 2022 are not expected to show much growth over the 161 million units in 2021, which was 7% higher than the 2020 shipments.

“Smartphone (sales growth) has plateaued, white goods are facing inflationary discomfort, but wearables especially those at the entry level of less than 2,500, have been witnessing huge growth. Even companies of size of up to 500 employees prefer gifting wearables during the festive season. Hence, the growth is expected to be higher than other parallel product categories,” said Faisal Kawoosa, founder of research firm TechArc.

In addition to affordability, features such as Bluetooth calling, bigger screen sizes, and AMOLED displays, which were earlier available at mid or high price points, are being introduced at lower price points, attracting first-time users and existing users looking for upgrades. The demand is not only coming from urban centres but also from tier-II and tier-III cities and this is in turn is creating space for new entrants. “As the smart wearable adoption in India is undergoing a metamorphosis, we have doubled the output for the category to meet increased consumer interest,” said Vikas Jain, co-founder of the Play brand of wearables.

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