From digital health to sustainability tech, consumer behaviors travel across classifications.
By Richard Yao
When reflecting on emerging trends from CES, we tend to follow the exhibit categories laid out by the organizer and examine them one by one: Here are the biggest trends happening in the smart home space; this is the main story in digital health this year, and so on.
While this siloed approach is great for drilling into specific categories for insights, it often does so at the cost of missing the broader trends in consumer behavior and preferences, which travel among categories at the speed of consumer expectations.
Attending this year’s all-virtual CES, where the physical boundaries between different exhibits no longer exist, I found it much easier to identify the common threads that manifested across several innovation territories. Here are three key cross-category trends all brand marketers need to know.
2020 was undoubtedly a year where we reoriented our lives at home, and many have sought digital solutions to make our homes more comfortable and fun.
As a result, smart home devices had a strong showing at CES this year—especially those made for kitchens and bathrooms—but the efforts to cater to homebound consumers did not stop there.
For many, our homes are also doubling as offices and schools, which has led to a noticeable surge in gadgets made for remote work and education. Besides the sludge of new laptops and workstations, there are also a made-for-Zoom laptop with three webcams and a built-in ring light around its screen, as well as the Olly Day smart lamp, which promises to supplement natural sunlight and help boost productivity at home. The subsequent increase in connected devices at home also led to more WiFi 6e routers, which support a new WiFi standard that can spread bandwidth across a large number of devices more efficiently.
In addition, innovations that can bring typically out-of-home activities into our homes also received increased attention at CES. Home fitness has seen such a boost that Samsung has added a new Smart Trainer feature to its Q7-series TVs, which use computer vision to track your workout and analyze your form. Home gardening also saw a surge in interest and got fitted for apartment living, resulting in smart gardens that can fit on a shelf.
The shuttering of movie theaters around the country and the subsequent dissolving of the theatrical windows have inspired many people to upgrade their home theater experience. CES responded to this rising demand with two home-use projectors from LG, and Asus, both aiming to make the home theater system more portable and user-friendly. Meanwhile, Sony plans to bring theater-grade experience into the living room with a Bravia Core streaming service, which will allow owners of Bravia XR TVs to stream Sony movies at “near-lossless” 4K Blu-Ray quality, as well as two new wireless speakers that support 360 Reality Audio, which offers 3D sound in a compact form factor.
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