Top trends for marketers from CES 2012

The four-day show in Las Vegas attracted 150,000 visitors
The four-day show in Las Vegas attracted 150,000 visitors

For those who missed out on the Consumer Electronics Show, Marketing asked Eric Bader, president and chief strategy officer, worldwide, at media network Initiative, to outline the show's most salient themes.

Every year the great and good of media, marketing and technology descend on Las Vegas to marvel at the latest gadgets and media wizardry. As the world's biggest event of its kind, the Consumer Electronics Show now has great significance for marketers, providing an indicator of some of the key consumer trends likely to influence their strategies (see Keith Weed at CES, below).

Underlying all these opportunities is a vast amount of data about consumer behaviour. Brands that can extrapolate valuable findings from this deluge of information and turn them into creative, engaging and achievable ideas will create significant competitive advantages for themselves.

Below are the key trends that will affect consumers' lives and so should be high on the marketing agenda.

1.  The new age of shopping

Various technologies on display at CES are having a big impact on retail and how people shop. Virtual dressing rooms, in-car apps that direct you to the nearest store, indoor mapping systems, shopping lists, personal history stored in the cloud and access to social networks from mobile devices are all changing consumers' decision-making processes and behaviours.

Why does this matter to marketers?

The combination of mobile shopping-assistance apps, search engines, access to social networks and cloud services are all making shopping a much easier process. The barriers between a consumer's first exposure to a brand, making a purchase decision and taking action to buy are being broken down - or eliminated - by technology.

2.  In-car technology

This is not solely about entertainment. There are powerful applications being added to vehicles that can influence consumers' decisions. These are specific to time and content - affecting people while they are commuting or running errands, for example. Ford has a new smartphone app that provides real-time statistics on the driver's vehicle and real-time interactions with their social network.

Why does this matter to marketers?

Apps that are integrated into vehicle systems offer marketers an environment of personalised information that is specific to the driver's route to their destination. This will create interesting opportunities for brands to relate to drivers on their way to the store, while they are commuting or when they are on holiday, and has implications for businesses in the given locality. It also increases the importance of search as a tool for reaching potential shoppers.

 3.  New networks on the go

The integration of social networks into devices, platforms and products is making social behaviour applicable to consumers in new contexts. TV, radio, gaming and interactive systems in cars are all being enhanced by enabling consumers to participate in their social networks while on the move.

 Why does this matter to marketers?

For consumers, having access to their trusted social circles is making TV, radio and even driving a richer experience. This will extend the time consumers spend with devices and content, giving brands more opportunities to interact with them.

4.  A digital health agenda

A wide range of personal health-related devices now have connectivity to the internet, feature mobile applications and incorporate access to social networks. Some of them, including wi-fi-enabled 'smart scales', are used as part of a diet and health programme; others are fitness-related and can monitor conditions in real-time. All the devices produce and use valuable personalised data.

Why does this matter to marketers?

For the vast array of brands targeting consumers who are interested in their health and wellbeing, interacting with an audience that can access high-quality, real-time and shared data about their health can provide a wealth of opportunities to increase relevance and position brands in relation to situations.

5.  Beyond the TV

A growing number of TV sets are connected to the internet, giving consumers access to content beyond that provided by the mainstream broadcasters. Web content, apps and video-streaming services, such as Netflix - which launched in the UK last week - are redefining how consumers use TVs and interact with brands.

At the same time, popular video-gaming platforms are transforming; consumers are now able to control them using touch, voice and motion-sensitive systems, and can play online with others. Keyboards are becoming less important as a means to interact and input data.

Why does this matter to marketers?

Consumers' viewing and consumption habits are changing, as are the types of specialist companies, producers and programmers that brands need to work with. People are using multiple devices while the TV is on, so marketers must make sure brand messages are consistent across various platforms.

Gaming devices have evolved to become content environments that include movies, TV shows, social interactions and shopping, driving engagement for long periods of time. Marketers have a chance to rethink how to produce the compelling, effective and integrated experiences that consumers want in those environments.

6.  The connected home

Numerous devices, appliances and services around the house, including fridges, thermostats, vacuum cleaners, lighting and even the dog's collar can be connected to the internet and controllable from a range of devices.

Why does this matter to marketers?

Just about every aspect of a household can now produce data and content. Marketers can use this information to help consumers make purchase choices and build shopping lists that can then be transmitted seamlessly from home, to the car and then to a device that the consumer brings to the store.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Unilever's global marketing chief, Keith Weed

In an interview at CES, with JWT Worldwide chairman Bob Jeffrey, Weed highlighted the need for marketers to find new ways of communicating in the age of convergence.

He also revealed he had been meeting up with people from Google and Facebook at the event.

'Connectivity changes (everything) completely,' said Weed. 'When you have a connected TV, that's just one platform, and we're going to have to think "one platform" much more, in terms of how we engage with our consumers and how we build campaigns.

'We're a mass-market, consumer-goods business, engaging with 2bn consumers every day. I need to understand about where those consumers are going, how they consume media, how they live their lives and how they interact with our brands.'

Watch JWT's Keith Weed video interview here


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