Consumer Electronics Show 2012: The implications for marketers

By Eric Bader, President, G14 & Chief Strategy Officer, Initiative Worldwide. International CES is the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show. While the media descend on Las Vegas every year to marvel at the latest gadgets and high tech wizardry, the Consumer Electronics Show now has a real significance for marketers around the world. If you think beyond the rows of TVs, computers, and smartphones, CES is an early indicator of some of the key consumer trends that will influence marketing strategies. There are clear signals that marketers should recognize, prioritize and incorporate into their communications plans. Looking at everything on display at International CES, there are six key trends in areas of consumers’ lives that have significance for brand marketers.


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

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 the shopping experience much easier for consumers by delivering one important thing: seamlessness. The barriers between a consumer first being exposed to a brand, making a purchase decision and taking action to buy are being broken down – or eliminated altogether- by new technologies.


Car technology is not just about entertainment. There are powerful applications being added to vehicles that can influence localized decisions for consumers. These are also specific to time and content – during commuting or while doing errands, for example. Additionally, Ford has a new Smartphone app that provides real-time statistics on the driver’s vehicle, real-time interactions with their social networks and makes the local environment around the car relevant to that driver.

Why does this matter to marketers?
Apps that are integrated into a vehicle’s systems offer marketers an environment of personalized info, 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’re commuting or on holiday, and has meaningful implications for local businesses. It also makes search an even more important tool for reaching existing and potential shoppers.


The integration of social networks into devices, platforms and products is making social behavior 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 within that environment.

Why does this matter to marketers?
For consumers, having access to their trusted social circles is making television viewing, radio and even driving richer and more fun and meaningful. For brands, consumers’ social activity increases the time they spend with devices and content, giving brands more opportunities to engage and participate with them.

Staying healthy

A wide range of personal health related devices and content now have connectivity to the Internet, feature mobile applications and incorporate social networks. Some, like the Wifi-enabled “smart scales”, are used as part of a diet and wellness program, others are fitness related and can even monitor conditions in real-time. All of the devices produce and use valuable personalized data.

Why does this matter to marketers?
For the vast array of brands targeting consumers who care about their health and wellbeing, interacting with consumers who are able to access high quality, real time and shared data about their health can provide opportunities to increase relevance and position brands against specific situations.

Being entertained

TVs are connected to the internet, giving consumers access to content beyond that provided by broadcast, cable and satellite companies. Web content, apps and video streaming services – such as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora – are redefining how consumers use their TVs and interact with brands. Also, popular gaming platforms – from consoles to online and mobile services – are transforming as consumers are now able to control them using touch, voice and motion. Keyboards are becoming less important as ways to interact and input data.

Why does this matter to marketers?
Because consumers’ viewing and consumption habits are changing, the specialist companies, producers and programmers that brands need to work with are changing too. Consumers are using multiple devices while the TV is on in the room, so marketers have to make sure brand messages are consistent and cooperative across each screen and experience. Gaming devices have evolved to become content environments that include movies, TV programming, social interactions and shopping, with consumers engaged in them for long periods of time. Marketers have an opportunity to rethink how to produce compelling, effective and integrated experiences that consumers want in those environments.

Connecting the home

Numerous devices, appliances and services around the house, including thermostats, appliances, vacuums, lighting and even the collar around a dog’s neck can be connected to the internet and be 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.

…opportunities fuelled by data

Underlying all of these opportunities is the ocean of data being created about consumer behavior. The brands that are able to analyze this deluge of information and turn it into creative, engaging and actionable ideas will create serious competitive advantages for themselves in the marketplace and in all these new contexts and environments.

Posted on February 22, 2012 in Blog

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