The demand for tech gadgets has boomed during the pandemic as smart devices helped people to cope with life in lockdown. But will the pandemic bring a long-term boost to the market, or will interest fade as restrictions ease?
The pandemic has shifted demand patterns for all kinds of products, from hand sanitisers to exercise gear to home and garden items. In addition, as people across Scandinavia were forced to spend more time at home due to varying levels of lockdown restrictions, they were keen to find new ways of staying active and entertained. These changes are reflected in their purchasing decisions. Over the past year, there has been a particularly strong increase in purchases of tech gadgets for health monitoring and smart home products.
Increase in the use of health monitoring devices
Earlier this year, the global market for connected health devices was estimated at USD 16.3bn and was projected to reach USD 52.1bn by 2027. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic boosted the market as consumers were forced to spend more time at home, find new ways of exercising due to limited gym access, and sometimes monitor their medical health. This has led to a 30% increase in wearable gadgets sold globally in 20202.
This global trend is also visible in Scandinavia, where 5% of the survey respondents say that they use devices to monitor their health more than they did before the pandemic. 62% of Scandinavians with access to a smart device, including a smartphone, now monitor one or more health statistics, with the most popular metrics being the number of steps taken, heart rate and sleeping patterns.
Most popular metrics in Scandinavia
The type of health gadget used varies across age, gender and region
In the past year, there has been an increase in the ownership and use of wearable gadgets in Scandinavia. Different groups of consumers have driven the increased sale of different types of gadget.
Our survey found that smartwatches are the most popular device for monitoring health among the 18- to 44-year olds, whereas 55- to 75-year olds prefer fitness bands. Smartwatches are slightly more popular among men, while fitness bands are more popular among women. Furthermore, 35- to 75-year olds are the most frequent users of smartwatches or fitness bands to monitor health.
Age distribution among health monitoring gadgets in Scandinavia
Health monitoring gadgets appear to be particularly popular in Norway. Norway (25%) is ahead of both Denmark (20%) and Sweden (20%) when it comes to using smartwatches, with usage increasing in both Norway (4 percentage points), Denmark (7 percentage points), and Sweden (5 percentage points) in the past year. Norway (25%) also has the highest number of owners of fitness bands compared to Denmark (20%) and Sweden (18%).
Smart home devices have gained in popularity
The use of connected home devices has also increased across Scandinavia: 86% of survey respondents now own a connected device – an increase of 9 percentage points over the past two years.
The demand for some connected devices has been greater than for others. For example, access to smart lighting systems has doubled in the past two years, as has access to smart hubs, which enable the components of a smart home to communicate and respond to each other. Voice-assisted speakers remains less common than for regular speakers but has more than doubled in the past two years, with 13% of respondents saying now have access to these devices.
Access to connected devices, 2018-2021
Trends in the use of tech gadgets
There has been a clear trend towards greater daily use of both health monitoring and connected home devices since the beginning of the pandemic. The trends are particularly strong for smartwatches, fitness bands and voice-assisted speakers.
64% of respondents across Scandinavia who own a smartwatch say they use it daily. This is a decrease from the 70% who claimed in 2020 to have done so, but it is nevertheless an increase compared to the 61% who did so in 2019, before the pandemic. Daily use of fitness bands has seen a similar trend, decreasing slightly to 53% in 2021 from 55% in 2020, compared to 51% in 2019 before the pandemic.
Frequency of use: Smartwatches
The frequency of use of voice-assisted speakers has also increased since the outbreak of the pandemic. In 2021, 39% of owners say they use their speakers daily, while 32% use them weekly. These figures compare with 36% and 29% respectively in 2019, indicating that spending more time at home has increased the use of certain smart home devices.
Frequency of use varies with age and gender
Our survey also gives insights into usage patterns by different consumer groups. For example, the increase in daily use of smartwatches across Scandinavia is driven by the 25- to 64-year olds while the 18- to 24-year olds are driving the increase in weekly use. The use of fitness bands is driven by the 35- to 44-year olds and the 65- to 75-year olds.
The everyday use of connected home devices increases with age, meaning older consumers are driving this trend. An exception is the increased use of VR headsets, which is driven mainly by 18- to 34-year olds, often in connection with gaming consoles.
Will the demand for tech gadgets continue to increase?
Our survey points to an increase in ownership and use of tech gadgets in Scandinavia over the past year, in line with the global trend. The increased popularity of health monitoring devices and smart home products appears to be an effect of the pandemic and the resulting restrictions. However, it remains to be seen whether demand for these gadgets will fall as gyms re-open and people spend less time at home, or whether they become a permanent part of the tech-driven post-pandemic world.
The use of health monitoring and smart home devices has grown over the past year, but will the pandemic effect bring a long-term boost to the market, or will interest fade as lockdown restrictions ease?