Who uses running apps and sports watches? : determinants and consumer profiles of event runners' usage of running-related smartphone applications and sports watches.

M.A. Janssen, J. Scheerder, E. Thibaut, A.C. Brombacher, S.B. Vos

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    Individual and unorganized sports with a health-related focus, such as recreational running, have grown extensively in the last decade. Consistent with this development, there has been an exponential increase in the availability and use of electronic monitoring devices such as smartphone applications (apps) and sports watches. These electronic devices could provide support and monitoring for unorganized runners, who have no access to professional trainers and coaches. The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into the characteristics of event runners who use running-related apps and sports watches. This knowledge is useful from research, design, and marketing perspectives to adequately address unorganized runners' needs, and to support them in healthy and sustainable running through personalized technology. Data used in this study are drawn from the standardized online Eindhoven Running Survey 2014 (ERS14). In total, 2,172 participants in the Half Marathon Eindhoven 2014 completed the questionnaire (a response rate of 40.0%). Binary logistic regressions were used to analyze the impact of socio-demographic variables, running- related variables, and psychographic characteristics on the use of running-related apps and sports watches. Next, consumer profiles were identified. The results indicate that the use of monitoring devices is affected by socio-demographics as well as sports-related and psychographic variables, and this relationship depends on the type of monitoring device. Therefore, distinctive consumer profiles have been developed to provide a tool for designers and manufacturers of electronic running-related devices to better target (unorganized) runners' needs through personalized and differentiated approaches. Apps are more likely to be used by younger, less experienced and involved runners. Hence, apps have the potential to target this group of novice, less trained, and unorganized runners. In contrast, sports watches are more likely to be used by a different group of runners, older and more experienced runners with higher involvement. Although apps and sports watches may potentially promote and stimulate sports participation, these electronic devices do require a more differentiated approach to target specific needs of runners. Considerable efforts in terms of personalization and tailoring have to be made to develop the full potential of these electronic devices as drivers for healthy and sustainable sports participation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0181167
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2017


    • Adult
    • Age Factors
    • Consumer Behavior
    • Educational Status
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Logistic Models
    • Male
    • Middle Aged
    • Mobile Applications
    • Odds Ratio
    • Running
    • Smartphone
    • Surveys and Questionnaires


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