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Persuaded self-tracking with wearable technology: carrot or stick?

Stefanie Paluch (School of Business and Economics, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany)
Sven Tuzovic (School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 12 June 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019




Commercial entities (e.g. health and life insurance, airlines and supermarkets) in different countries have recently begun to introduce wearable technology as part of the consumer journey and as a means of enhancing the business value chain. While a firm’s decision to adopt such new technologies as wearable devices is often based on financial factors such as return on investment, costs and impact on profits, consumers may hold a different attitude toward the value of using smart wearables and sharing their personal data as part of their business-client relationships. The purpose of this paper is to investigate consumer perceptions of and reactions to persuaded self-tracking (PST) – a practice in which businesses actively encourage consumers to monitor, collect and share personal biometric data through wearable technologies in exchange for personalized incentives and rewards.


Using a qualitative research approach and a purposeful sampling method, the authors conducted personal in-depth interviews with 24 consumers (both users and non-users of wearable devices). Interviews were recorded and transcribed, resulting in 600 pages of transcripts comprising more than 203,000 words. Data coding and analysis were facilitated by using NVivo.


Consumers’ assessment of PST is based on perceived value-in-use, privacy/security concerns and perceived fairness/justice, resulting in four types of reactions to adopt or use PST (embracing, considering, debating and avoiding). Specifically, the authors identified two individual determinants (intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation) and four firm-related determinants (design of wearable device, assurance, transparency and controllability) that influence consumer perceptions of PST.

Research limitations/implications

Results of this study have implications for both vendors of wearable devices and firms trying to leverage smart wearables in their value chains. Identifying consumers’ perceptions, as well as barriers and enablers of acceptance, will help firms to more effectively design and develop wearable device-based services, thus gaining consumer support for using fitness trackers. The primary limitation of the study is that using a thematic analysis method diminishes the generalizability of our findings.


This study addresses an under-researched area: the integration of wearable technologies in a firm’s value chain through the lens of the consumers. This study is one of the first, according to authors’ knowledge, to investigate consumer perceptions of PST.



Paluch, S. and Tuzovic, S. (2019), "Persuaded self-tracking with wearable technology: carrot or stick?", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 436-448.



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