A growing number of Nigerians are using wearable devices to monitor their health, with this year’s sales of the products projected to hit the highest in at least 10 years.
A new report by Euromonitor International, a global market research provider, shows that sales of wearable products in Nigeria rose by 14 percent last year.
It said the retail volume sales in the formal market could rise by 16.7 percent to 23,800 units in 2023 from 20,400 units in 2022, with the value expected to grow by 45.3 percent from N2.32 billion to N3.37 billion.
Wearables are electronic devices worn on the body that track, analyse, and communicate real-time personal health or training data.
Some of the most common wearable devices are fitness trackers, headbands, posture monitors, wearable patches, smart glasses, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets, heart rate monitors, and sleep trackers, among others.
“Nigerians increasingly take their health seriously. Also, as the devices are wearable, they are portable and can be used hands-free, eliminating the need to take devices out of pockets and this convenience will also drive volume sales going forward,” the report said.
“Wearables are expected to be the standout performer in 2023, registering double-digit volume growth and that is despite continuing high inflation and also significant currency devaluation, which is making imported products even more expensive,” it added.
Euromonitor said the growth, however, comes from a small base as the products are mainly purchased by affluent consumers, particularly those with a strong interest in sporting activities, “although the availability of more affordable brands is supporting growth in volume terms.”
Joe Odoh, a Lagos-based professor, told BusinessDay that he uses his smartwatch to keep fit by checking his heartbeat and walking steps.
“It also checks my sleep pattern which is linked to my Blood Pressure. If my sleep is ok, my BP is stable. I started using my watch last year. Apart from my health, the device helps to pick up or stop calls when my phone is not around me,” he said.
Chinedu Chukwu, an Abuja-based banker, said he bought two smartwatches for his wife to use for her morning walks. “My wife is the one who uses it the most to check her BP and heart rates.”
Wearable electronics enable the tracking of key health metrics and this will continue to be an underlying driver of volumes going forward, said authors of the Euromonitor report.
According to Uchenna Uzo, professor of marketing and faculty director at Lagos Business School, health consciousness has increased in Nigeria as people are now adopting a healthier lifestyle.
“Since COVID-19 pandemic three years ago, there has been a more heightened drive to get people to do preventive care, not just palliative care alone when they are sick. And educational institutions and health maintenance organisations are also driving that health consciousness a lot more,” he added.
A breakdown of the projected total volume sales of wearable products showed that smart wearables emerged the best-performing category with retail volume sales expected to increase by 24 percent to 20,000 units this year.
Others are activity wearables, digital activity watches and activity bands, which are expected to contribute 4,1oo units, 2,200 units and 1,900 units respectively.
“Smart wearables are increasingly popular for their health monitoring benefits, such as for measuring heart rates, blood sugar levels and other health measurements,” the report said.
Smart wearables dominate retail volume and value sales of wearable electronics in Nigeria, with the fact that these devices can be connected to a smartphone playing a significant role in this, according to Euromonitor.
It noted that Oriamo, which launched in 2020, now leads the competitive landscape, thanks to its wide range of products at varying affordable prices.
“Its latest launch, Oraimo 2 Pro measures blood oxygen level, heart rate, as well as tracking menstrual cycles, and enabling users to make calls. Next in line is Xiaomi, which also has a double -digit value share. Most notably, it leads activity wearables, due to its high quality and competitive-priced brands, all of which are readily available via e-commerce. It also has the second strongest position in smart wearables,” it said.
Read also: Will Wearable Tech Ever Become Mainstream?
According to Delve Insights, the wearable medical devices market is anticipated to surge due to a number of factors, including an increase in the geriatric population, an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension, cancer and rheumatism, an increase in fitness and physical activity awareness, and an increase in regulatory approval for wearable medical devices.
In March 2022, Rockley Photonics, a global leader in photonics-based health monitoring and communications solutions, and Medtronic, a global leader in healthcare technology, collaborated to deliver the next generation of wearable healthcare monitoring devices.
In January 2021, Boston Scientific, a medical technology company acquired Preventice Solutions, a producer of several wearable cardiac sensors for remote patient monitoring.
In May 2021, Biobeat, a global pioneer in wearable remote patient monitoring solutions for the healthcare continuum, announced the launch of its new wearable and continuous ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) chest-monitoring device.
ABPM can serve as a critical indication of a patient’s health, collecting patient cardiac data in real-world circumstances outside of the doctor’s office to offer an accurate, comprehensive, and impartial picture of the patient’s health.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, has been grappling with a severe dollar shortage for years, which worsened following the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war that started in February 2022.
In June this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria collapsed all segments of the foreign exchange market into the Investors & Exporters window and devalued the naira.
The naira depreciated from 416.52/$1 as of February 28, 2022 to 801.10/$1 on Wednesday at the official market. At the parallel market, popularly called black market, it weakened to 1,300/$1 from 575/$1.
The high cost of sourcing FX was one of the major factors that pushed the country’s inflation rate to an 18-year high of 26.72 percent in September from 25.80 percent in July, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
“The new government has implemented some unpopular but essential economic reforms, such as in terms of foreign exchange management, and it is hoped that these reforms will restore economic stability over the forecast period and lead to healthy volume growth in wearables,” analysts at Euromonitor said.
They added that wearables will remain a niche product, mainly bought by more affluent consumers. “However, a d
ownward trend in prices should expand the consumer base.”