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JANUARY 18, 2021 //     

CES 2021 Reveals the Latest Consumer Tech Trends, and Why Having a Virtual Presence is Key for Brands

By Taylor Burke

In a year where few things were normal and many things were cancelled, the world’s biggest tech show carried on. Last January, shortly before many of us moved to a remote format, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held its 2020 show in Las Vegas’ Convention Center, where brands from coast to coast and from countries all over the world gathered to share their latest innovations. Though it may seem hard to visualise now, Lenovo unveiled its 5G laptop to attendees face-to-face and LG shared its Rollable OLED TV with interested editors and consumers IRL.

This year, CES came back – but this time, virtually. It was the first time since its inception in 1967 that CES put on an all-digital convention. Throughout the January 11-14 show, brands didn’t showcase interactive displays on a convention floor, but effectively featured their latest technology online: for example, they showcased robots who can clean, entertain, educate and so much more (a stark contrast to the first solid-state TV unveiled at the premiere show 54 years ago). Through this new approach, CES proved more than ever that technology has the power to keep us connected no matter the circumstance.

If 2020 taught us anything, to maintain interconnectivity and stay relevant in a new, increasingly fast-paced (and mostly digital) environment, brands must now leverage virtual tools to showcase their latest offerings. This is done most effectively while continuing to tap into evolving consumer and technology trends. Companies who attended this year’s CES showcased smart innovations via online showrooms, live streamed press events and press releases. CES boasts the world’s best technology and most innovative thinking – so what can we glean from a broader consumer perspective regarding the hottest upcoming trends and best-in-class virtual presentations? Here are some of the most noteworthy themes and brand adaptions from this year’s virtual show:

Personalisation is still preferred
The closer to an in-person demo a brand can provide, the better. Hi-res product and lifestyle images are table stakes, but brands should consider internally captured b-roll as a compelling way to simulate a hands-on experience (and make it dynamic, both from a storytelling perspective as well as for use in coverage). From smaller to larger companies, those that did this during the first virtual CES left a lasting impression on editors and overall attendees.

Digitised healthcare is here to stay
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of health-focused innovations now – and in the future. With more of an emphasis on stay-at-home care, people have come to realise the benefit of remote monitoring when it comes to not only COVID-19, but diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea (among other syndromes). Brands whose offerings enable people to manage their health care remotely fared well at CES: for example, Medwand showcased its tool that connects to a smartphone or tablet so physicians can remotely check vital signs and other health parameters.

Novelty makes headlines
Technology has become such a part of our everyday lives that new advances hardly surprise us anymore. Most of us own and operate a computer, a smart phone, a tablet – and many even a smart microwave or mirror. To stay ahead of competitors and really make a splash, brands in all industries have to be creative and think outside the box. Case-in-point: beauty brand Ninu received notable media coverage for revealing its smart fragrance that connects to cell phones and allows users to mix and match scents.

Technology is one of our most trusted resources
As people have become increasingly reliant on and confident in in-home technologies to support their needs this year, brands tuning into this are meeting with great success. CES participants were excited to experience the positive impact technology can have on their everyday lives (i.e. VOYs’ new glasses and sunglasses that enable wearers to change their prescription with a simple dial twist).

Consumers want - and expect - customisation 
Customisable offerings can create compelling storyline opportunities (i.e. an explanation of how a brand determines which styles are offered to consumers) that ultimately bolster awareness. Samsung announced its Bespoke refrigerators at this year’s show, and the line’s range of colors, materials and finishes garnered a lot of traction due to the creative power it provided to shoppers.

As 2021 moves forward, brands can maximise their impact by leveraging these trends in new product launches, service updates, thought leadership narratives, social content and more. Further, businesses will need to prioritise virtual PR and marketing tactics - such as digital, compelling desk sides and livestreamed announcements - to reach consumers where they are today: at home, connected to their devices and eager to hear how companies and their technologies can improve their lives.

To find out more on how Allison+Partners can help your brand leverage the latest trends and virtual events, click here.


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