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Report: Only 3% of American consumers own a smartwatch or smartband

With all the attention given to smartwatches and other wearable devices, you might think that these gadgets are fairly popular among consumers. A new report debunks that notion with the finding that only 3 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older owns a smartwatch or smartband.

Using data from a survey of about 11,000 consumers in late August, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech found that smartwatch penetration is highest (34 percent) for the 25-34 and 35-49 age demographics. The survey also revealed that two in three smartwatch owners are male.

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These age and gender findings are in line with “the classic early adopter profile,” according to the report. While Apple has paid attention to design and personalization to extend the appeal of their smartwatch to non-techies, the payoff hasn’t been fully realized yet, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech adds.

That said, Apple has asserted itself as the top-of-mind smartwatch brand, as 92 percent of survey respondents who knew what a smartwatch or smartband was associated the company to the category. Fitbit followed with a 47 percent association, while Google was third with 34 percent and Samsung was fourth with 33 percent.

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Among non-owners participating in the survey, 20 percent weren’t sure what the devices were, while 11 percent had never heard of them at all.

“Considering the poor job vendors have done thus far in defining the smartwatch category it is surprising that 52 percent of those interviewed were able to identify what these devices are: something you wear like a watch, and that let you runs apps,” according to Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Kantar smartwatch survey

The top barrier to purchasing a smartwatch is price (41 percent), followed by the perception that a phone handles everything necessary (33 percent). Thirty-two percent of respondents said they simply don’t want to wear a watch, while 29 percent said smartwatch functionality isn’t useful to them.

Earlier this year, The NPD Group predicted that smartwatch ownership will reach 9 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 and up by 2016.