Why we stop using our trackers and sports watches
It’s worth pointing out that the researchers stated their users previously exhibited intense usage patterns and their abandonment of fitness/health tech, in general, was probably not permanent.
If I’m honest, I was extremely surprised by these results and would be keen to see a more extensive and more up-to-date study that specifically splits out ACTIVITY trackers from full-blown sports watches. Whilst such a study would merely titillate our interest for a few hours of reading, this sort of insight into user behaviour must be of significant value to the brands who make the tech, especially when you look at the surprising reasons people gave for moving on with their tech choices.
Headline Reasons For Activity Tracker Abandonment
The researchers took these as the most significant causes of abandonment.
- External factors were interrupting/deprioritizing tracking.
- Data inaccuracy/uselessness.
Fine. We’ll come back to those. But now scan to the bottom of the list of all factors ie MINOR reasons why people abandon their fitness tech: SOCIAL tech interaction; cheaper alternatives; not enough time; change in health status. From many of the brand messages we see every day, you might assume that brands are focussing on the less important abandonment issues like these. For example, how often have we seen a fitness tech company stress its (non-existent) social opportunities within their app but then produce a totally inaccurate device? #Often! Maybe tech companies often focus on the wrong tech and the wrong messages.
My Take Out
Going through some of those responses in descending order.
- Motivation – I guess that’s a relatively obvious one and many app/tech CEOs are probably sporty themselves and realise the intrinsic importance of motivation.
- (Perceived) Measurement Inaccuracy/Incorrect activity tracking/measurement distrust – Some brands do focus on sending out messages about how accurate their devices are but, as readers of this site know, many are being economical with the truth. Eventually, it looks like one-third of lost customers realise this, so just imagine how they then feel about the brand that possibly deceived them. Would they go back to it? My take had previously been that most people were largely oblivious to inaccuracy and that may still be true but judging from the above, those that realise their device is not accurate are probably not happy.
- Tracker No Longer Visually Appealing – I mean who would have thought that aesthetics are important on a 24×7 wearable? That said, it shows the importance of customisable watch faces. Whilst the watch/tracker still might be inherently ugly, allowing aesthetic customisation might create a positive effect in the user toward the device if they have been actively involved in personalising its appearance.
- Forgot to wear it – This sounds silly at one level. Yet people have incredibly busy lives and a key part of product acceptance is its routinised, automatic use. This point again comes back to charging time. If you have to leave the device on the charger for two hours or overnight then people will simply forget to put it on again in many cases. This reiterates the importance of QUCIK CHARGING; for more organised people if you can remove your jewellery and watch for a 10-minute daily shower and come back afterwards to a device that will keep going for another 24 hours until your next shower, then you have the making of a tech routine that will work. (That’s me with the Apple Watch!)
- Data can’t sync to other apps – Another obvious one. If app and hardware companies continue to insist that you buy their stuff and then change your tech lifestyle so that you are bound to their app and only their app then the tech company is in for a rude awakening. Advice to startups: Many people are just not interested in your app’s social experience and insights, they want your data/content in a sports data platform that they already use eg Strava, Apple Health or even a simple smartphone notification or widget.
- Privacy – I sense that people are becoming more concerned about data privacy when once it might have been the realm of the paranoid few. Tech seems to be generally much more secure now when it comes to log-ins, passwords & the like, but privacy normally means something else to most people. They just don’t want untrustworthy organisations accessing and possibly sharing stuff they haven’t had permission for. When you hear stories of former Facebook employees who say that their platform specifically took over the microphones of some smartphones and, effectively, listened in; you can see why. (Personally, as me, I’m a trusting soul and generally less concerned about privacy which is somewhat ironic when I run this blog anonymously!)
- Allergic reaction to band – 18% …wow. I have occasionally had a bad ‘allergic’ reaction but put it down to not washing properly on that particular day. #DirtyAthleteSyndrome (I clean normally…honest!)
- Useless data interpretation – Well..there’s a lot of that. Smoke and mirrors rule! Sometimes a great app interface can hide totally awful and scientific incorrectness behind the facade (many HRV interpretations are just this)
- Tracking took too much effort – Yep…tech should be seamless and the results and interpretation should just appear as if by magic telling you exactly the right kind of thing in exactly the right kind of way at exactly the right time of day. It’s hard! but your products are expensive so make it work.
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