Best Buy Misfit half price Black Friday 2015The 2015 holiday shopper can find activity trackers for gifting discounted as much as 50% and more over Thanksgiving weekend. In greater Philadelphia, the Thursday print newspaper ads were chock full of examples from Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart, among others. Among the many “Doorbusters” and deep discounts were a Misfit Flash tracker for $14.99 at Best Buy (a 50% discount), a Fitbit Zip at both Kohl’s and Walmart for $39 ($20 off the manufacturers’ suggested retail price), and a Fitbit Flex at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $49.95 — 50% off full retail.

Walmart 1 Black Friday 2015That trackers are now available for well under 3 figures, and some under $25, illustrates that the digital pedometer-with-app  is now accessible to the mainstream middle and thus, commoditized. If you want heart rate included, the discounted prices are closer to $100.

The retail channels selling activity tracking are also proliferating beyond sports and fitness, and Big Box venues. This year, the telecomms companies T-Mobile and Verizon featured deep discounts on health trackers, and Kohl’s, the department store, continues to grow the health/fitness category beyond athletic clothing and gear adding more tracking devices this holiday season.

Target Doorbuster Black Friday 2015Note Target’s Doorbuster” of a Fitbit charge for $119, sold from 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day “while quantities last.” This was featured on a full page pre-print ad in the newspaper, more prominent than any single toy, TV or smartwatch.

Best Buy has played the long game in digital health tech, still a major channel for these devices. The Jawbone UP2 at $49.99 was a big 50% off of retail and one of the best deals for the Black Friday list of trackers at discount. Dicks Black Friday 2Fitbit trackers are quite prominent at Target, which sells most models in their growing long aisle of digital health tech located in the Electronics department. My local Target has a kiosk asking, “Which Fitbit is right for you?” helping a confounded consumer confronting dozens of trackers in that crowded shopping aisle with questions about functions and form factor that are designed to lead the buyer to a more informed purchase.

“Doorbusting” is also a virtual concept, with some of the best deals for activity trackers found online on Amazon (the largest single online source for all brands of activity trackers), offered a new, discontinued large-sized orange Jawbone UP discounted to $19.77 from an MSRP of $79.00, a huge price savings of 75%. There were also some UP 24’s in small persimmon color for $36.95, representing a whopping 71% discount. Amazon also offered the Misfit Flash Fitness and Sleep Monitor in white or reef for a 50% discount, down to $14.99 (with Amazon Prime shipping, too).

2015_CEA_Sales_and_Forecast_Tech_Outlook-1-232x300Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Gifting activity trackers will be a big holiday sales category in 2015 according to The Consumer Technology Association (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association). The CTA held a press conference in July 2015 with the association’s forecast for holiday buying, and as the last infographic illustrates, wearables were expected to be a hot shopping ticket for the holiday 2015 season.

I’ll be on the ground in Las Vegas at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in early January 2016 to assess the landscape for this chaotic category and prospects for activity tracking to move more deeply into healthcare and remote health monitoring. With the 2015 announcements of Fitbit working closely with Target’s employee wellness program (complete with HIPAA agreements); continued pilots at the Center for Connected Health in Boston and in other health settings developing evidence around patient self-tracking; and, more peer-reviewed research emerging proving out the benefits of self-tracking and DIY healthcare, expect the category to thin out with the best products showing efficacy and sustained use in 2016 and beyond, crowding out those whose value is not proven.

For a déjà vu on Black Friday wearables, check out what I wrote about the holiday sales trend exactly one year ago in HealthcareDIY.