Want to harness top tech trends from CES? Focus on your audience’s brand experience
Kevin Ruiz of experiential marketing agency Spiro brings us the marketer's-eye view of the freshly-wrapped CES 2024.
This year's CES wasn't just about AI, says Spiro's Kevin Ruiz. Under the surface, it's about brand experience / Credit: Consumer Technology Association
This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas saw more than 135,000 attendees and tons of reactions, in person and across social media. But for marketers seeking what’s hot for brand experiences, the world’s largest consumer tech show served as a reminder of the critical brand-consumer bond.
To connect and deepen relationships with your most important audiences, consider these experiential trends, which show the need for brands to walk the talk.
1. Tangible sustainability
Sustainability is more than a buzzword, and savvy brands are matching their green initiatives to real-world outcomes and tangible targets. This shift reflects an evolving market where 77% of companies report that sustainability increases customer loyalty. Authentic and impactful sustainability efforts are now key metrics that influence consumer choices and behavior.
With eco-conscious consumer spending projected to reach $1tn by 2027, brand success with sustainability initiatives hinges on a genuine commitment to sustainability, backed by action. More than 70% of companies surveyed by IDC are past just discussing sustainability commitments; they’re focused instead on measurable progress to show both shareholders and customers that they’re making good on their targets.
What’s next? Using your sustainability approach to reveal cost savings and stand out from the competition. Consider the materials that go into your product and services as well as each brand activation.
2. Holistic DE&I
Tech’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is moving beyond tokenistic measures to become an integral part of a brand’s identity. Brand-side marketers across industries should strategically match their commitments to action.
This year’s CES served as a platform to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Brands demonstrated how DE&I initiatives are deeply embedded within their operations and the ways they’re empowering their industries. Increased accessibility across the show floor, with measures such as translated content, self-guided audio tours for the hard of hearing, tactile additions for the visually impaired, and physical accommodations underlined a commitment to inclusivity.
This holistic approach can strengthen brand consideration and your business’s bottom line. In its opening session, the Consumer Technology Association revealed that inclusive tech design now reaches approximately 1.8 billion global consumers with disabilities. Additionally, companies with diverse leadership teams achieve 19% higher revenue compared with their less-diverse counterparts.
3. Personalized AI
Artificial intelligence’s ubiquity across brands’ products and services underscored its transition from emerging technology to a critical innovation staple. But beware: This widespread integration heralds a future where thoughtful audience personalization is expected, from product design to each brand activation.
AI-driven hyper-personalization will be key in brand engagement, transforming brand/consumer interactions from novelty to a vehicle that meets individual consumer needs and preferences. Considering that 25% of tech’s global consumer population are gen Z, meaningfully integrating AI is more important than ever.
To be successful, marketers must better understand their audiences and what drives them to engage. AI companionship tech was a top CES trend, but many solutions led to audience reactions and news articles such as Mashable’s '5 most WTF products we saw at CES 2024'. Personalization efforts shouldn’t require significant audience input, nor should they hinder customers' ability to connect with your brand and fellow participants.
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4. Brand partnerships
Michael Kassan, chief executive for MediaLink, told The Drum last week that marketers attended CES to “meet new tech partners, test new innovations, ink new deals, and learn how to harness the new technology that will define how brands connect with people in the months ahead.”
That’s because collaborations have become opportunities to showcase your brand to new audiences while creating authentic narratives. Partnerships also provide smaller and non-tech brands a relevant seat at the table packed with tech giants, especially when the collaboration is seamlessly integrated into the overall attendee experience.
68% of consumers’ purchases are influenced by partnership campaigns. These collaborations represent a new era of brand storytelling, where success lies in marketers’ ability to resonate with consumers who value engagement and authenticity over self-promotion. That requires weaving together diverse brand identities to create narratives that engage audiences on a personal level. 94% of tech execs consider partnerships essential to innovation, but they’re also increasingly needed to build lasting brand loyalty.
5. Blended experiences
The multiverse was last year’s highlight, but it struggled to captivate attendees, overshadowed by a surge in AI applications. However, metaverse tech's potential, particularly in creating 'digital twins' for industrial and interactive content applications, hints at a future where digital and physical worlds seamlessly intertwine.
This integrated reality isn’t just a novelty. This year, brands and marketers will continue to push the envelope through true blended brand experiences. Continued VR and AR evolution (a $72.8bn market this year), combined with mixed and extended reality innovations, offer marketers the opportunity to deliver interactive, transformative, and relevant audience experiences.
Overlaying digital realities or simply merging the digital and physical isn’t enough. As with each of this year’s top experiential marketing trends, it comes down to delivering tangible value to your audiences, so they keep coming back for more.
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