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Teens and Tech: A Growing Market for Wearables

“I’d rather give up, like, a kidney than my phone.” - Philippa Grogan

Teenagers are looking to be more connected to the world around them than ever before. In just two years the number of teens who own smartphones rose 14 percent. Twenty five percent of teenagers own a tablet, about the same as adults. However, compared to the adult market a larger percentage of teens (one in four) connect to the internet primarily through mobile devices. Teenagers today have access to technologies at a young age and the way they interact with the world is vastly different than the generations that came before them. It is a generation growing up with the Internet of Things and they have all of its capabilities at their fingertips.

Technology companies in the wearable market are beginning to look at these consumers with new eyes. Calorie counters and high-fashion watches may mean little to teens, but a bracelet that acts as a game console, friend proximity tracker, messenger and is completely customizable, just might. A teen focus group was completely enthralled with the idea. When they were ready to buy on the spot, Mighty Cast took the hypothetical item and turned it into the NEX Band.

Mighty Cast isn’t the only wearable company beginning to tap into the emerging teen market. Pebble has released limited-edition versions of its smartwatch in three new colors: fresh (lime), hot (pink) and fly (blue) in an effort to tap into teen trends. And their high retail price ($150) is not a problem because teens spend on average between eight and 15 percent of their disposable income on technology.

Opportunity is rife with challenges. Spurred by the business of fast fashion, this generation of teens is accustomed to short turn-around times between product announcement and release. Keeping up with the ever-changing consumer trends of teenagers can put a strain on the small start-up companies that produce many of today’s wearable technologies.

Enter global manufacturing and supply chain companies who speed time-to-market for wearable companies.

Quickly developing a working prototype and making the shift from design and development to manufacturing can be riddled with pitfalls. By nurturing strategic manufacturing partnerships early in the process, companies can ease each transition from concept to release and leverage the experience, supply chain and manufacturing expertise of a larger, global, partner.

Are teens a new market for wearable tech companies? Or are teenage trends too fickle to be taken seriously?

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