CES 2020 – Six takeaways from a Marketer’s perspective
Tracy Quitasol
15 January 2020

Humans are born with an innate sense of curiosity. Attending CES 2020 captures and fuels that curiosity. Each year, the CES experience becomes something bigger and stronger as marketing and technology developments continue to become closely woven together. The symbiotic relationship between the ever-evolving world of technology powers consumer behavior and vice versa.

CES offers some perspective on how big manufacturers are thinking about the future, but it’s often the smaller players and exhibitors along the edges of the floors that signal what’s ahead. There was also a full schedule of panels to gather insights.

OMD entered into this magical weeklong event where more than 180,000 people gathered to learn, explore and discover together. We arrived with an agenda to provide thoughtful, customized OMD Tours, manage partner meetings and learn from the plethora of panelists. We toured, talked, listened and learned.

"CES offers some perspective on how big manufacturers are thinking about the future, but it’s often the smaller players and exhibitors along the edges of the floors that signal what’s ahead."

The OMD Innovation Team trained a full army of Tour Guides to provide customized tours of the CES show floor for our clients. We also had more than a dozen reporters cover even more panels to gain additional insights on some of these themes. We built a team of doers and thinkers who used consistent elements of storytelling infused with knowledge of brand marketing to create a larger narrative for our clients. And to try and make sense of everything on the floor.

What we discovered: general themes that touch all sectors that help us view CES from a marketer’s perspective. While this is not an exhaustive themed list, it provides a snapshot of some signals and patterns of where the future may be headed. Here are some of our findings:

 

EMPATHY: As technologies develop and are refined, there’s a keen sense of how the consumer experiences things. In general, we saw that manufacturers and technologists were using more informed consumer driven behavior to quickly iterate on product development. Auto manufacturers like Mercedes and Ford, recognized that consumers want buttons instead of always swiping to get to those most used functions in the vehicle. Ultrasense created virtual buttons for phones to provide a tactile feel for buttons. We saw DELTA work in partnership with Misapplied Sciences Inc., to build out a customer experience that provides unique one-to-one messaging on airport screens. Empathy is driven through emotional connections, and an empathetic approach leads to deeper, more insightful use of data.

CONVERGENCE: Category lines are blurring as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) find new ways to reach consumers. Sony produced a concept car to showcase its use of sensors and as conceptual as it was, there was still a physical button in the center column. Panasonic’s concept car with Karma Automotive, featured full Android-powered gaming on the passenger side, blending together the rise of gaming across all sectors as a form of entertainment – regardless of age. General Electric Appliances (GEA) showcased how multi-generational families are informing the built environment inside and outside of the home. OEMs product lines are broadening and converging with other industries.

BLURRING: The health segment of the floor was more about data-driven living. The ongoing blurring of lines between health, wellness, sleep and mental health was evident across the floor. Devices that measured and tracked all three dominated the space, many with full FDA approval. All with an eye towards mitigating the costs associated with chronic diseases. There’s a sea change happening with health data, providers and technology and consumers are responding. Even traditionally non-health brands have the opportunity to support consumer well-being and self-care programs. Graying demographics drive some of this change, but so does data.

DELIVERY: The Amazon “prime-ification” of almost every aspect of life drives many innovations across all sectors. We saw protection from porch pirates with brands like Ring Inc., providing monitoring services, to startups like Dronedek that created a smart mailbox for drone deliveries. While Gen Z leans into sustainability and demands sustainable packaging, they still ironically want speedy delivery to “prime” their life. In that irony, there’s plenty of products that are being developed. A multitude of solutions showed up in Eureka Park and on the main floor. LivingPackets created a smart, IoT reusable shipping container, THE BOX, with flexible sizing while Samsung created a do-it-yourself kit from the box in which your TV was delivered. Delivery also was reflected in the mobility space and robotics. All designed with an eye towards speed, efficiency and, sometimes sustainability.

MY SPACE: Consumers are creating a new landscape of their personal space that’s driven by the use of earbuds. They can interact with the physical world in a way that’s dynamic and controlled. Technology in audio wearables blurs the line between earbuds and hearing aids. There are earbuds that help with chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. Another space innovation: measurement of air quality. This has clearly taken on a personal approach, from LG’s mini desktop air purifiers, to the abundance of startups from France that showcased custom air scents for home, desk and vehicle. Space, regardless of size, is being carved out as a way for consumers to own the mental and wellness aspects of their lives.

THERE’S NO TECH BACKLASH: No one is throwing their phone away anytime soon. Tech can do good and bring convenience to our fingertips: each and every day more than 15 million people get into Uber vehicles with strangers; and two million people stay in homes that are not their own with Airbnb. Now, we trust non-healthcare entities to develop an approach to our healthcare management. The next iteration of data usage will not only require platforms and services to weave in privacy, we’ll also see consumers demanding these same entities begin to pay for that data.

 

Our OMD teams are uniquely positioned to see these bigger themes from a marketer’s perspective. Each area touches upon our day-to-day data-driven insights. By experiencing and learning together with our clients, we’re able to develop and shape the future with a broader world view that’s provided by CES.

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