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Consumer demand for the quantified self

Consumer demand for the quantified self
Henk Grootveld - Head of Trends Investing

Henk Grootveld

Head of Trends Investing



The first conventional quantified self device, counting users’ steps over the course of the day, was launched in 2009. Since then, a number of world-leading brands have entered this rapidly-growing market and burgeoning investment trend.

Need to know

  • Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019, as younger buyers are tipping toward digital
  • At the end of 2021, 11% of US citizens were using a smart watch
  • Our World Brands strategy harnesses the quantified-self trend through its focus on digitalisation and consumers’ pursuit of personal wellbeing


First steps

Fitbit1 launched in 2009 and can be considered the first proper model of wrist-borne digital activity tracker. Apple entered the market with its smartwatch in 2015, combining the activity tracking functionality of the Fitbit with some smartphone functionalities and some vitality measurements like heartbeat.

Other brands like Garmin, Samsung and Huawei followed with similar devices and the smart watch showed an exponential growth take up rate in line with, or even slightly faster, than the smartphone a decade before that. Google parent Alphabet closed the acquisition of Fitbit in January 2021 for USD 2.1 billion, which the company believes is expected to help spur innovation in wearable devices.1


A growing market

At the end of 2021, 11% of US citizens were using a smart watch, up from zero in 2015.  According to CCS Insights, Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019; and Apple is currently not even the best-selling smartwatch brand. In 2020, 200 million smartwatches were sold and recordtrend.com anticipates that this number will double by 2026.


Figure 1: US smartwatch penetration

Quantified self-World Brands-Smart watch-01.svg

Source: TradingPlatforms in “US smartwatch market is on the rise, to hit $10 billion this year.” GSMarena (July 2021).


From hype to trend

With more consumers, from young to old, using smart devices to measure all sorts of activities and vital signs; with both technology and healthcare companies making inroads into quantified self, and with the first signs of quantified-self data being used by the healthcare system, we conclude that the quantified self has moved beyond the initial hype phase and has become a real long-term trend. A trend that has the potential to change both our lifestyles as well the healthcare system, giving rise to attractive investment opportunities, in our view.

Our World Brands strategy harnesses the quantified-self trend through its focus on digitalisation and consumers’ pursuit of personal wellbeing through active and engaging lifestyles. Wearable devices are a growing feature of this fitness trend, and are also increasingly linked to healthcare systems.

To find out more about the quantified self and the investment implications, read the full paper: ‘Quantified Self: from hype to trend’


[1] Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.

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