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The Morning After – Reflections on CES 2016

DigitasLBi

The Morning After – Reflections on CES 2016

Now that the collective CES hangover has passed, we’ve all heard plenty about the amazing 8K TVs, wacky personal drones, and connected pregnancy tests at this point. Outside of the 20,000+ product announcements, does CES have relevance beyond the first overly stimulated week of January? Absolutely. Anyone in marketing trying to follow the puck that consumers are hitting needsto understand the important trends beyond the products, categories, and sizzle of CES.

The biggest challenge when you’re on the CES floor is getting past all of the Connected Hammers looking for a Smart Nail. 

The toothbrushes, water bottles, and plant vases controlled by apps are a distraction. 

As CES evolves from an electronics and gadget show to a startup launch party and a media kickoff event, it is setting the momentum in increasingly new ways in this consumer-driven world. In addition to a stack of tote bags, I came back from Las Vegas with five trends that will dominate consumer products in 2016:

1. CONNECTED LIFE

The unfortunately named Internet of Things (IoT) has two faces: one is cold and sterile and deals with municipal air monitors and jet engines, and the other is consumer-oriented: connected homes, connected cars, and connected health. These distinct connected silos are merging, sharing information, and bringing more consumers together than their individual pieces ever could.

2. IT’S NOT MOBILE FIRST, IT’S CLOUD FIRST 

The mobile phone, believe it or not, is losing its hold as the epicenter of your life. Consumer products won’t need to rely on a smartphone, as there is now a continuum of devices where you’ll interact with your connected life. Products will need to be built with a focus on how they live and co-exist with other products in the cloud, and not just how they’ll be controlled by smartphone.

3. VOICE IS THE NEW SWIPE

Amazon, in a brilliant move, opened up their Echo technology to anyone hoping to build voice recognition into their product. As behavior continues to shift to “OK Google, how long to get home,” and “Hey Siri, set a timer for 10 minutes,” consumers will increasingly expect to be able to use voice as a primary way to interact with a product.

4. EVERYONE IS IN THE SOFTWARE BUSINESS

You can have the best widget around for tracking sprockets, but it will never lead the category without a great user experience. Whether it’s the companion app or the screen on the dashboard, consumers have a short attention span and will quickly abandon a product without an intuitive design that requires zero training.

5. GO WHERE THE CUSTOMERS ARE

While they didn’t have their own CES Marketplace, there were two growing diasporas gaining attention. Over The Top services and Messaging platforms should be part of every marketer’s strategy that delivers content or interacts with consumers. So just about everyone. The most interesting example was a manufacturer of health tracking devices (e.g. blood pressure, weight scales, activity trackers) that worked with WeChat. This enables you to share and discuss results with family, friends, health care providers, and coaches. It’s a great example of going where the eyeballs are.