Technology CES World

4 consumer tech trends marketers should pay attention to at CES and beyond


By Phil Ahad | Executive Vice President, Head of Products & Strategy

January 4, 2019 | 6 min read

Over the past couple of decades, technology has evolved exponentially, both in capabilities and the speed at which new products are brought to market. From smart speakers and voice assistants to smartphones with facial recognition, these emerging technologies are becoming more and more common.

4 consumer tech trends marketers should pay attention to at CES and beyond

In our on-demand economy, companies are under pressure to innovate and develop new products that will ultimately become a part of our everyday lives. Marketers too must gather insights on consumer demand to deliver the most relevant and personalized experiences to individual consumers. New technology is playing a major role in the potential for brands to reach and engage with consumers in novel ways.

With this in mind, Toluna tested the waters ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. We surveyed1,003 US consumers ages 18 to 55+ in December 2018 to uncover insights on technology trends, purchase intent, and adoption of consumer electronics heading into the New Year. Among these fresh insights, we identified four tech-influenced trends that marketers should take note of at CES and beyond:

1. Increased adoption of smart home or IoT connected devices

IoT underpins the trend of homes becoming smarter and more efficient as consumers adopt appliances and other devices that can be controlled and monitored via smartphones. From functions such as lighting, security, irrigation, entertainment, and more, smart home or IoT connected devices have begun to permeate our households and will continue to do so in 2019. Of the respondents surveyed, 22% said they own a smart home or IoT connected device and 27% reported that they would be interested in purchasing a product that fell under this category within the next six months.

What this means for marketers is that there will be more data in more places, all increasingly interconnected, allowing for more personally tailored content delivered at the right place and at the right time. For example, marketers may now use devices such as a smart washing machine to deliver personalized messages about products when consumers are likely running low on them, whether that’s detergent, bleach, or something else. As adoption of these IoT connected devices continues, marketers should think about their applications, and how to use the aggregate of data to best serve up the right messages when consumers want them.

2. Interest in new technology for entertainment purposes

Respondents were asked for which applications or functions they would be interested in purchasing the following technologies: facial recognition technology, VR and/or AR, smart home devices or IoT connected devices, speech recognition/voice search, wearable technology devices, smart or foldable displays, and interactive devices; 43% said for entertainment purposes, followed by automating tasks (26%), tracking and measuring behavioral data (23%), sharing on social media (18%), and receiving more personalized ads (12%).

Interest in new technology for entertainment purposes is a trend we’ll see going into 2019. This means there will be a plethora of marketing opportunities related to and on these devices as consumers flock to buy more of them and spend more time engaging with them. Products that market themselves or ones that provide consumers with the opportunity to crowdsource ad messages will be able to reach consumers in ways never thought possible. For instance, a smart device might have a chip that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and when opened, posts to your social media accounts, letting your friends know you’ve started using or enjoying it. In this way, the product then becomes a media device with the ability to market itself digitally while serving as a form of entertainment.

3. Paid advertising in smart speakers not a deal-breaker for most consumers

According to the survey, a surprising majority would not be bothered if paid advertising were introduced into smart speakers. In fact, 19% said they would be more willing to use smart speakers if that were the case, while 23% said it wouldn’t affect their behavior.

These findings are extremely useful to marketers considering the increased adoption of IoT connected devices, which includes smart speakers and voice-controlled assistants. Into the future, marketers should have their wands at the ready for when this time comes, but while this is not possible yet, brands should work on having search results on smart speakers optimized and focus on building brand recognition and loyalty. Although paid advertising is not possible yet, brands are permitted to promote their product or service inside podcasts, music, or through branded skills or apps. For example, an alcohol brand may create an app that can teach a consumer how to make a certain cocktail, using its product as an ingredient in the recipe. This is a strategic way for brands to get their name out there and create the most visibility through smart speakers.

4. Sleep technology as a viable and emerging tech category

Out of all the new product categories at CES, sleep technology is a highly promising one. Consider: 22% of respondents said they would be interested in purchasing products under this category within the next six months, as compared to 17% who said sports tech and 14% who said baby tech. From smart pillowcases, brain wave-reading sleep trackers, to snooze-inducing headphones, sleep technology devices are on the rise.

With the abundance of data generated by body signals, marketers should find ways to make all this data marketable by connecting consumers with health practitioners and the medical world — whether that’d be recommending a drug or executing a referral to a fitness center or medical professional.

With the adoption of new technologies and devices, marketers should have a grasp of how they influence consumer behavior and the commerce landscape, and then use this knowledge to effectively make use of more data and new content channels. Marketers should pay attention to four tech trends ahead of CES 2019 and beyond, not just because of the opportunities in the present, but also because they point to the increasing need and importance of consumer insights on-demand.

Phil Ahad is executive vice president, head of products and strategy, at Toluna

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