One year in and only now are we getting to know Apple Watch owners

Bernard Desarnauts
Apr 19, 2016 · 13 min read

Wristly Insider’s Report #45 — April 19, 2016

With this report we are for the first time publishing a detailed profile of the Apple Watch owner. We investigate where they live, their education and income and more generally what their attitudes are towards Apple and other new tech products and services, as well as assessing their brand preferences across a number of product categories. Today we’re also debuting a new feature for these reports by turning the spotlight on some of our fellow “Inner Circle” panelists.

Please note that these demographic statistics are calculated from the 1,370+ respondents of this particular survey and will be used in some of the cohort/segment analysis later. Some of these stats, including specifically Gender and Model distribution, are not representative of the entire Wristly panel of 2,500+ members let alone the overall market. For instance, in our total panel, the model distribution shows 78% owning Apple Watch sport versus the 62% reported in this survey. We believe the 78% is representative based on comparisons we have done with other research estimates.

Highly Educated and Very Affluent

Looking at our respondents, we can state that Apple Watch owners have attained very high levels of education and are significantly more affluent than average smartphone users for example.

First, in terms of education level reached, more than 84% have either a college or postgraduate degree. We note incidentally a higher level of Apple Watch owners in Europe who have attained a PhD (51%) vs in North America (36%).

In terms of gender analysis we can observe that the women who wear an Apple Watch are more educated than men.

In terms of household (not personal) income that we measured we can report a much higher household income for Apple Watch owners especially in North America vs Europe — with more than 68% of our respondents belonging to households with over $100,000 of income for instance vs 45% in Europe.

Before we look at brand preferences across various categories of premium products, let’s define how they relate towards new technology products and services and assess the extent to which they are early-adopters.

Self-Declared Early Adopters

Probably the most surprising insight from this first question is that a significant 12% of the respondents do not consider themselves new tech early adopters. Conversely, and as expected, the Wristly panel includes a very large cohort of very early adopters with just over a third stating they are “the first to try a new tech product”. Let’s see if this applies across a wide set of new products and services.

First let’s look at the aggregate results from this question. We have indeed a broad range of early adopters across a wide range of new products. 26% own a smart thermostat like Nest and astonishingly more than half state owning the latest Apple TV (we are a bit puzzled by this % and as we hadn’t included an option for “older Apple TV” so we assume that our panel have combined Apple TV generations).

Not pictured in the chart above, over 7% report owning Echo from Amazon and even 4% state having ordered (or pre-ordered) a VR system such as Oculus.

If we only look at the 36% who labelled themselves “First to purchase” we get the following results:

  • 78% of them state owning a 4K TV set
  • 33% own an iPad Pro
  • 20% own a Drone
  • 10% own an Echo

So indeed the self-selection of being an early adopter correlates to ownership of multiple new tech products. What about “new technology” consumer services?

Let’s focus on the North American numbers where most of these services originated from. A very large 83% of the Wristly respondents aka Apple Watch owners are also subscribers of Netflix and 69% of Amazon Prime. After these two heavy-weights, we note a significant 28% who are HBO Now subscribers ahead of quite older Hulu Plus and ESPN reflecting potentially its initial exclusive launch with Apple TV?

If we analyze the data by Gender we see some notable differences. For instance, 76% of women are subscribers to Amazon Prime vs 68% of men or 24% of men are ESPN subscribers vs 14% women. Meanwhile there are almost no differences in the Netflix attach rate at 79% (women) vs 83% (men).

Let’s now turn our analysis to their favorite brands across multiple categories.

Apple Watch and Luxury brands

The first question we asked was to establish a benchmark on luxury across a variety of products and brands.

The top five global preferred luxury brands were:

  • Rolls Royce cited by 36% of the respondents was largely ahead of all others (the “other brand” option was #2 for 15% of the responses).
  • Rolex reached 2nd position with 13% of the vote
  • Hermes was number 3 with just over 8% of the vote followed by Ritz Carlton (6.5%) and Cartier (6%)

As one would expect we can find significant differences in this ranking based on various geographic or demographic criteria. For instance Rolex and Ritz Carlton are very North American centric brands, while Cartier and Hermes are much stronger in Europe and Asia.

If we look at age groups, the older cohorts disproportionately voted for Rolls Royce, while the youngest cohort scored high on their affinity to Louis Vuitton.

Looking at Gender analysis — we can see that the Jewelry brands including Cartier and Tiffany do significantly better with the women population.

A Tesla or what else :)?

To the question: “Which of the following car manufacturers is most innovative?” unsurprisingly Tesla rode to the very top with an astounding 71% of the vote, BMW was number 2 at just 9% of the vote and Mercedes Benz took third position with 7% and no other manufacturer listed reached 5%…

What about luxury watch makers?

Which of the following watch brands do you think has the strongest reputation for timepiece craftsmanship? Was our question to the panel.

Rolex here took top honors, followed in the aggregate vote by Patek Philippe and Tag Heuer at #3. And when we look at the responses by region, we see the Rolex dominance is less strong in Europe where conversely Breitling is an often cited brand at #2.

And when we look at the data by income cohort — we see also strong differences. The brands that resonate the most for those who have the highest income are much more specific to the various niche vendors led by Patek. Meanwhile Rolex and Tag scored their lowest relative score with the $150,000 and above household income cohort.

Sport Apparel brands?

Finally we asked about favorite sports-wear/apparel brands. Globally Nike (29%) followed by Under Armour (24%) and then Lululemon (11%) are the three winners. Yet very distinct differences emerge when looking at the data by region. For instance both Under Armour and Lululemon are significantly less cited especially in Europe where Adidas is much stronger.

We will dive deeper on the analysis on brand preferences in this month’s issue of Pulse of Wristware, our monthly in-depth report for Wristly Pro subscribers. You can read about all Wristly Pro features and benefits here.

Spotlight on Inner Circle Members

With this report we are beginning a new “feature” to spotlight some of our research panelists. As many of you know we’ve been blessed with a vibrant community with our many panelists and it was time to turn the light back on some of you as I am sure you will inspire many other Apple Watch owners with your own stories. To debut this feature we have chosen to feature Mrs M, who is by far our most prolific “Bandista” to date.

M was instrumental a few weeks ago with our Bands and Accessories research -and if you haven’t yet read it — you can read this report here. M resides in the United States and was kind enough to share some of her experience with Apple Watch and Wristly. In her own words.

“I don’t remember what I thought about the Apple Watch’s capabilities when it was first announced, if I was even aware of its uses. All I remember thinking was, “Wow, that’s an ugly contraption.” Something about the look of the sport watch combined with the cartoonishly-colored sport bands immediately turned me off of the device. If I had to wear something on my wrist every day, I figured, it was going to be a fashion accessory that looked attractive and that I could personalize to match my outfits and life.

The Apple Watch did not appear to be that device. I wouldn’t call myself a fashionista exactly, but I take pride in my clothes and I enjoy putting together my look each day.

But my impression of the Apple Watch changed when Apple introduced new Sports Watch colors late last year. I was enamored with the rose gold watch and lavender band, and I loved the beautiful muted shades of the other new sports bands. I began to learn more about the watch’s functions and I came to appreciate how the watch might fit into my life. I loved the ease with which a user could swap out bands, and I was even more pleased to discover the vibrant third-party band market that would allow me to change the look of my watch every day (sometimes more than once a day) without spending $50 — $250 a pop on Apple’s products.

I got my rose gold sport in December and I haven’t looked back. My band collection is up to 33 now, and I love picking a band to complement my outfit every morning. Plus, what girl doesn’t like having new accessories to shop for?

I’ve found some wonderful leather workers who make beautiful apple watch bands — — Arrow & Board comes to mind as a great example — — and continue to find beautiful new bands to add to my wish list.

I’m now a full Apple Watch convert and I’ve even come to appreciate the look, design, and color of Apple’s initial watch offerings. Having the ability to personalize the look of my watch with bands (and being free to get those bands from retailers other than Apple) has hugely enhanced the Apple Watch user experience for me! Kudos to Apple for the simple yet revolutionary design that makes my band-collecting possible.

Please meet Tom from the UK

Tom has been a member of the panel since the summer and recently reached out to help us promoting the research in the UK and here are his own words on Apple Watch.

I’m Tom, 28, from the UK. I’m a competitive archer, scale model enthusiast, amateur sci-fi writer and work in technology marketing.

I bought the Apple Watch to see what it could do for me: having previously been sceptical about new Apple devices I would later find invaluable, this time I decided to get ahead of the curve. For me, the Wristly project is a great way to uncover what this new device can do, while taking an active role in shaping how the category itself is understood and develops.

The most delightful experience I’ve had with Apple Watch is the feeling that I’m gaining control of my health and feeling that I will get there. It’s an empowering, indeed life-changing device for me. I’ve also been surprised at how natural the Watch feels, I think of it just like my old mechanical watch, except with more features. I suddenly remembered what it can do when I received a phone call in the middle of the National Championships…

The apps I use and love most are those at the heart of the device: Activity Circles and Apple Pay; but I also find the Watch is the most natural place to receive messages. Now I just need to get past the social hurdles that make dictating replies to my Watch in public feel very uncomfortable. One thing I would love to be able to do with my Watch is integrate it with my archery training. If I could just tell Siri where my arrows had hit, perhaps with a comment on wind conditions, with a plot of the results over time appearing on the iPhone, that would be amazing.

I bought the Watch with a Milanese Loop and black Sport Band; I find I keep the Sport Band on most of the time as it is flexible and far more comfortable than I expected, but I do love the look and feel of the Milanese band. I intend to buy a dark blue Sport Band to match my favourite Chronograph face.

If you are a member of the Wristly Inner Circle and are interested to be featured in an upcoming report please do get in touch!

Spotlight on a great Watch App

Not too long ago we featured David Walsh’s fantastic Heart Watch app. We received numerous emails from fellow members who downloaded it and have been enjoying it ever since — if you haven’t yet and are curious/interested in a meta/super visualization of your heart rate data you should check it out!

In turn we will continue to highlight and suggest a new App with each future report. We have noticed (and we’re not the only ones) that the overall quality of several third party apps have increased notably including their performance with the watchOS 2.2 release of last month.

This month it is our pleasure to introduce you to Facer by Little-Labs. First some background, how many of you wish Apple would have given us more options to customize our Watch faces? Also how many of you currently seldom use the Photos capability of Apple Watch? Well, without further ado, that’s in a nutshell what Facer offers. A very clever and simple way to customize our Apple Watch faces using photos. Read more about Facer and download it here. If you try it please let us know how much you liked it (or not).

How much allegiance to Apple?

Our survey was issued right after the last new product launch event hosted by Apple. We thought it was a good opportunity to assess how much our respondents follow news from the company and what their reactions to the announcements were.

Essentially while it didn’t surprise us that all our respondents were aware of the event, we were astounded to see that almost half watch the presentation live!

Also while a plurality of respondents cited the new iPhone SE as most important for Apple long term success, almost as many cited the new Carekit and related HealthKit progress as important. Most likely the Apple Watch population has a significant positive bias towards health-oriented applications.

Our respondents were split when reacting to the $50 price drop for Apple Watch Sport model with as many preferring “more people can afford one” and “Apple is clearing inventory ahead of v2”.

Finally our last question attempted to get the collective pulse on what, if anything, Apple Watch would displace in the overall product and technology landscape over time.

One of the most surprising insights from this question which should appease the top end watch manufacturers is that only 19% of our respondents stated that Smartwatches eventually would replace all classic and luxury watches. Meanwhile a broad majority of 84% believe that we’ll be able to get rid of keys and wallets in the 5 to 10 year timeframe and fully three quarters of the panel have high hopes for Apple Watch to become as pervasive as the Smartphone.


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You can also register here for a complimentary issue of “The Pulse on Wristware”, our monthly in-depth research report included in our Wristly Pro subscription research service.


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