Key Takeaways From CES 2019
January 17, 2019
Another year has passed, and once again, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas remains the premier technology event in North America. Each January, CES is notable not only as the tech industry’s leading opportunity to reveal their newest products, but also for its sheer size: more than 4,500 companies and nearly 180,000 participants fill more than 2.9 million square feet of exhibit space. But, in addition to the wow-factor of the product demos, the 2019 CES event also reveals big news about the market-driven insights that are informing all that innovation. Here’s a look of some of the overall trends from the event that will help eCommerce and direct-to-consumer businesses best meet the needs of their customers.
Trend #1: Smarthome is Sticking Around
At this point, all of the “big four” tech companies—Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook—have their respective take on dedicated, physical smarthome products that help users to engage each company’s best services without a device in their hand. This is technology that adapts to the user: the devices learn the specific routines and preferences of the user, while seamlessly fading into the background to become part of everyday life.
The stories out of CES reveal big strides in home automation devices (laundry folding machine, anyone?) and the ever-growing “internet of things” building itself in our homes. But for businesses looking to maximize their marketing efforts, there are two other important outcomes: 1) Additional devices, and the way they communicate with each other, will generate even more data insights about how consumers are engaging with content, allowing brands to better connect with audiences, and 2) there will be new avenues for sharing targeted messages within of your campaign.
For example, Facebook revealed new expansions to their video platform, Facebook Watch, and its ability to interface with connected TVs. For brands, this means the television in the living room can now be integrated in the targeted Facebook campaigns to inform and create repeat customers. For direct-to-consumer businesses, who rely on Facebook’s “standard events” to target messages to those with buyer intent, this means the earliest levels of a campaign could occur outside of the direct feed browsing experience, during the breaks on one’s favorite show. So, they’ll experience introductory messages, like short educational videos or customer testimonials, on the television, but when it’s time to move prospects to the “purchase” level, you could target them with dynamic product ads on desktop or mobile, exclusively. This is a big advantage for eCommerce sites, who can then immediately convert that interest into a sale, instead of simply building more brand awareness.
Trend #2: Voice and Touch-enabled Shopping is Growing
Businesses take note: over the next five years, billions of consumers will make payments using biometric-technology. Also dubbed “multisensory commerce,” these technologies employ unique personal identifiers such as face recognition, fingerprints, and voice recognition to authorize transactions. Especially useful on mobile/tablet devices and smarthome hubs like Amazon Echo and Google Home, in a few years, the predominant way your customers will be purchasing products is with their words, not their clicks, and certainly not by driving them only to a retail store.
The result is that marketing will also need to change and shift to become more multisensory and experience-driven as we figure out what consumer engagement looks like in the digital age. As the end of the customer journey continues to change, so will the entire consumer engagement process. This is big news for eCommerce brands who are able to sell their products directly to consumers. When customers are using their voice to purchase products, they can avoid having to go up against huge national competitors, sidestepping the battle for shelf positioning. There no shelves with Alexa or Google Assistant; they only offer one or two choices, and so big corporate product providers have little influence over where voice shopping will send consumers. Score one for the little guy.
Trend #3: Immersive Customer Experiences Through Wearables and VR/AR/XR
Innovative companies continue to look beyond the computer and smartphone to bring tech solutions to physical products. At CES 2019, we saw a smart toothbrush that can clean all your teeth in exactly 10 seconds, a safety vest for cyclists with built-in airbags, and a device that can unlock your car based on your heartbeat.
In the vein of last year’s TeslaSuit, these are haptic technologies—those that rely on the sense of touch and perform kinesthetic communication. The impact here is obvious: we now have an opportunity to design experiences for the entire body. No one at XenoPsi has, admittedly, experienced a TeslaSuit in person (how do we get on that list?), but we can’t help imagine the possibilities for sensory-driven customer engagement, and the potential new avenues for building innovative stops along the journey to create new customers.
Other News From CES: Facebook Seeking Feedback to Help Clean Up Ad Platform
Facebook is taking major steps to recover and regain user trust in light of their rather controversial 2018. This year, Facebook hosted a special “client council” event for industry leaders to welcome insights from marketing professionals and share new updates to their platforms and privacy commitments. They didn’t reveal any major changes to their regulations (at least not publicly), but wanted to ensure marketers that they are very aware of their data transparency issues, and are looking into ways to help advertisers better understand who are seeing their messages.
This gathering of industry leaders is a good reminder that CES nets more than just nifty product demos. For marketers, CES provides a meeting-of-the-minds to discuss new ideas and best practices for privacy protection. For direct-to-consumer brands businesses looking to maximize their advertising spends, this is a good indicator that Facebook’s ad platform is still one of the best ways for eCommerce companies to build new audiences and reach them with targeted messages that prove real results.