Three in five Canadians believe that they are healthy, with women the more likely of the two genders to make this assertion (64%). This is perhaps unsurprising given the proactive interest which women adopt towards their overall fitness.

One way this interest manifests itself is in wearable tech and apps. According to Mintel’s Healthy Lifestyles, Canada, 2014 report, Canadian women are keener on a number of online tools, especially those tracking calorie intake or activity levels. Women are also slightly more likely than average to already be using wearable devices designed to count steps and track sleep. Women aged 18-34-years-old are also the most likely to use a mobile or tablet app that tracks activity levels (such as RunKeeper, MapMyWalk or Nike+ Running). These apps are still only used by 9% of Canadians, but 31% state an interest in using them.

Interest in online apps that track activity levels is more prevalent among women than men (39% against 27%), while almost twice as many women are already using a mobile or tablet app that stores their daily calorie intake (19% against 10% of men).

Around a half of adults are not interested in each of the types of apps or technology. On one hand, this suggests that there are limits to market growth. However, based on interest levels, a theoretical market penetration of up to half of Canadians suggests that this could be a lucrative market if the barriers to usage can be overcome.

While current usage levels are low for all types of wearable technology, there is reasonably strong interest in these products. This suggests that there is potential for growth if companies can overcome likely barriers such as cost and understanding of how the products can specifically enhance fitness.

Similarly, the many online tools and apps are not well known among Canadians. Considering that the cost of entry for these is essentially zero, these could help increase Canadians’ engagement with their own plan for healthy living. Improving awareness and knowledge of these tools in similar ways to the wearable technology is key to increasing usage.

Jason Praw is Research Manager Canada for Mintel. He has worked in market research and retail consulting for over 10 years and  is currently responsible for researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle industry.

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