(By Buzz Knight) Digital health, gargantuan TVs, mobile technology, automobile sizzle, and of course quirky robots. These are some of the key product lines on display at CES 2021, which had to move from displaying on 2.9 million square feet in Las Vegas to its first ever virtual event.
Gone is the sensory overload, along with the sore feet from navigating the convention space as the Consumer Technology Association transitioned to a digital-only event. Hats off to CTA for navigating the change remarkably well.
At Monday’s Press Day, CES showcased high-quality presentation skills, as did the big brands that presented, including Bosch, Samsung, LG, and Mercedes-Benz, among others.
So how have the brands that are presenting at CES incorporating the ways our lives have changed during a pandemic?
Sebastian Seung, president and head of Samsung Research, said, “Your home has taken on a greater significance,” and his opening presentation was themed around Samsung’s brilliant branding line: “Better Normal for All.”
If there is one key theme many CES exhibitors have embraced, it’s adapting to the scenario that no one was prepared for: home lockdown, working from home. and the need to make the home better personalized for individual needs. In fact, Samsung must have repeated the words “makes life better” or some variation a dozen times or more in its press briefing, and it wouldn’t take a research genius to figure out Samsung is tapping the emotion of a large segment of the country.
Samsung CMO Wanda Young, speaking at the Shelly Palmer Innovation Series Summit, said that during the pandemic Samsung’s research indicated that 30% of the population started washing their clothes more frequently, leading to the deployment of artificial intelligence in Samsung washing machines to better serve customers.
Promoting its TV line, Samsung mentioned a brand called “The Terrace” made specifically for outdoor patios, something that has taken on a different meaning in the new at-home environment.
Not surprisingly, Samsung is also getting into the at-home fitness category with something called Samsung Health, a home smart trainer to compete with the successful Peloton.
LG responded to the pandemic with a similar theme, “the meaning of home has changed,” and a messaging campaign for its products that says, “make yourself at home,” with the priorities of safety, convenience, and entertainment.
Air purification units are plentiful here at CES 202, and LG showcased LG Puricare, a unit available in various sizes for portability, as well as a wearable air purifier.
Kohler kitchen and bathroom products, pitching the “Smart Home” line, used a term I’d never heard used formally before: “The Escape Bathroom,” which is a new/old way to look at that sacred space as the nature of home has evolved.
Kohler’s other emphasis points at its virtual display were: “whole home water monitoring” as a means for making certain your water supply is pure, along with cleanliness in the bathroom with a “touchless experience.” Kohler is also heavily invested in the smart home, with home-assistant integration so you can ask your friend Alexa to measure out one cup of water for your favorite recipe.
Also on the home front, Procter &Gamble launched its Lifelab Everyday Virtual Experience, an immersive platform showcasing how innovations and technologies from the P&G portfolio can impact the world. P&G’s obsession with an excellent consumer experience spans products such as the Oral B io, an electric toothbrush with a frictionless magnet drive; Microban 24, a home-sanitizing unit that uses a multi-layer protective shield; and the Febreze Fade Defy Plug Air Freshener, the first mass plug-in with built-in microchip technology.
Automotive representation for me so far has consisted of Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, and there is a contrast in the priorities for their messaging.
Mercedes was focused on its new MBUX Hyperscreen, with a width of 141 centimeters. This unique screen unit is not only the largest human interface built by Mercedes to date, it is also the most intelligently designed display, allowing for incredible personalization.
Think of Hyperscreen as the “brain” of the car, with the ability to navigate, communicate, and explore.This is a competitive threat to in-car radio listening as there are so many other “bells and whistles” for the consumer to play with and enjoy while in the vehicle
General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered a keynote speech filled with a ton of color focusing on GM’s commitment to electric.
One thing that was very clear is that GM is committed to diversifying product offerings at a time when revenues are challenged.
Barra announced BrightDrop, a logistics-focused electric delivery unit that is a separate business unit of the company. GM clearly believes this is a growth category, estimating that by 2025 the market for food and parcel delivery will grow to $850 billion.
GM also showcased its majority interest in Cruise, a self-driving company that has driven more than 2 million miles over the past five years. Cruise has made tremendous progress in pilot programs in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona, with many of those advances occurring in the last year, during the pandemic.
The consumer technology industry is tremendously resilient, and CES 2021 showcases the passion and drive of so many great individuals.
Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]