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CES 2023 unveiled a new wave of sustainable and purpose-driven technology

By Anthony Stonehewer | Head of growth

Make Honey


The Drum Network article

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January 18, 2023 | 8 min read

From an artificially intelligent speech app to wearable sleep tech, Anthony Stonehewer of Make Honey recaps the standouts he saw at CES 2023, and considers how smart marketing can bring them to consumers.

National Cancer Institute

Technology that serves a human purpose or the planet will prevail in 2023 / National Cancer Institute via Unsplash

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an annual tech event where brands make major announcements and reveal their latest innovations and breakthrough products before they hit the shelves. At CES 2023, over 3,200 exhibitors (including 1,000 startups) turned out to showcase sustainable innovation, from transportation and mobility to digital health, web3, and the metaverse.

New product development and mass-market evolution grabbed the headlines, but arguably what stood out was the quantity of sometimes niche, purpose-minded technology: products designed to support people’s health and wellbeing while positively impacting the planet.

A clear trend emerged from both blue chips and startups of technology that helps people and businesses to be more sustainable, and embrace accessibility and inclusivity. While household names like Amazon, Google, Hisense and Sony filled column inches, it was refreshing to meet future superbrands quietly exhibiting conscious technologies: biodegradable batteries, screen-free educational devices, and smart glasses for the visually impaired.

Purpose-driven technology

South Korean tech titans SK Group displayed 40-plus ‘zero-net’ technologies, from state-of-the-art batteries for electric vehicles to sustainable food. Its booth visualized the impact of climate change with rising sea levels against a backdrop of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty, before taking viewers on a journey of how it plans to address global issues.

With 15bn batteries disposed of every year, energy innovators BeFC raised plenty of eyebrows with a goal to eliminate the environmental impact of battery waste. The French start-up is pioneering bio-enzymatic fuel cells: a paper, biodegradable energy source that facilitates sustainable and reusable energy.

Global power and infrastructure firm Schneider Electric unveiled a sustainable home energy management system that gives homeowners energy independence and control. It also presented power sockets and switches recycled from discarded and used fishing nets.

The number of green outdoor energy solutions was vast. Jackery’s portable and solar power generators stood head-and-shoulders above a sea of competition with a creative exhibition space that showcased practical everyday uses, as well as green energy solutions for weekends away. At a time when energy prices have soared, solar power and storage is of major interest as a solution to a growing global challenge.

Among the medical tech line-up, Mvitro (another South Korean tech house) revealed home devices for human care. Mvitro’s Ortiv blood sugar test machine reads blood levels without the need to draw blood with needles – a welcome device for millions of diabetics.

Earable Neuroscience helps people better understand their sleep patterns and manage their physical and mental wellbeing with its Frenz Brainband. The wearable sleep headband tracks and stimulates brain activity via bone-conduction speakers and claims to facilitate better sleep quality, relaxation, and focus.

The inspiring list of tech companies is endless. Others included: Screen-free, educational learning from Tonies; sustainable, wireless headphone by Rolling Square; and Acapela Group’s ‘my-own-voice', an AI that allows people with speech or language challenges to create and communicate through a digital voice.

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Marketing purpose-driven tech: communications are imperative

These innovations will drive economic growth, improve our lives, and create a better future for the next generation. But with so much noise, how can marketers stand out from the crowd?

Start with the story. Too often, companies focus on features, rather than benefits. Technology media thrives on specifications and chipsets, but consumers want to know how it solves everyday or specific needs. Highlight purpose-driven features and provide evidence to back up claims.

Market sustainable materials, energy-efficient design and other aspects that appeal to consumers who seek sustainable options. As a rule of thumb, given the nature of your product or service, use sustainable packaging: materials made from recycled materials or are fully recyclable and minimize excess packaging to reduce waste.

Demonstrate value through social and digital content, leveraging PR and influencers to engage with consumers. This could look like collaborating with other purpose-driven brands or organizations, partnering with those that share your values and can help amplify messages to increase brand awareness, or creating activations and PR-able moments that bring your technology to life.

Ultimately, communicating your sustainability actions is imperative. Sharing information about the company's efforts to reduce its environmental impact, such as using renewable energy, implementing recycling programs, and reducing water and carbon emissions, can create standout in your market. It will also deliver a connection with your audiences – something that sustainable and purpose-minded consumers are calling out for.

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Make Honey

Make Honey is an award-winning communications agency that creates impact for brands. Our clients cut through the media maelstrom and secure sales through PR, content and social-first storytelling.

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