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It’s another start to a year, and that means another Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And not unlike last year at CES, the TVs are crisper and smarter, the watches connect to your smartphone, and you can wear something, or drive something, or play with something, that is Internet or app connected.
But the incredible thing about CES 2015 isn’t a significant difference in the types of technology we were seeing versus a year ago. It was the volume. The number of new products in 3D printing, smart watches, Internet of Things, and drones and robotics was simply staggering in terms of growth. The future is now, and it’s exploding. We’ve distilled it all down into four insights that digital marketers should consider in 2015.
1. 3D Printing Will Touch Your Brand This Year
As much as 3D printing has been a focus at CES for sometime, in 2015 3D printing is showing signs of massive growth with many new manufacturers with new solutions and price points — driving to consumer-friendly mass use of 3D printers. What was most interesting this year at CES was how makers in many different industries were creating products with the tech. From fashion to music to jewelry to art and toys, consumer products were clearly benefiting from the ability of anyone to use the 3D printer to create. This has resulted in a proliferation of 3D printed products flooding the market while the cost of 3D printers is becoming affordable for any family. Fans of your brand can now 3D print right from their homes – printing copies of your products, add-on extensions, and fan-inspired versions. This is putting consumers in the drivers seat of physical products in an unprecedented way. All brands should expect some kind of impact of 3D printing in the hands of consumers in 2015. And any forward thinking digital marketer should consider how to wrap their arms around this technology and give consumers fun and creative ways to use 3D printing to enhance their brands. There is an opportunity to deliver more value to your product with 3D printing in 2015, and you should take it.
2. Smart Watch Enabled Apps Will Get Noticed
Another category that followed 3D printing in growth is smart watches and fashion wearables. With literally hundreds of smart watch options covering the floor at CES as well as new fashionable and fitness wearables including bracelets, rings and necklaces, the wearables category is clearly coming into its own and providing enough products to capture consumers imagination, if not their wallet. With the number of smart watch options hitting the market this year exploding, and the price points driving down to consumer-friendly levels (along with the Apple Watch launch coming later in this first quarter), consumers will not only be adopting these devices, they’ll be looking for apps to power them. In particular, marketers should be ensuring that their brand apps are being updated this year to include smart watch support. But to win in innovation, brands should consider how they could deliver on a unique brand experience for smart watch consumers. Domino’s is one early entrant into the smartwatch app space, with its Tracker app for Pebble watches, allowing users to temper their hunger while their wrist keeps them up to date on their pizza delivery.
3. Competition for Digital Value is Reaching Critical Mass
If anything was clear from CES in 2015, it’s that everything is being connected to the Internet and mobile. As thousands of start-ups work to bring the Internet to Things to everything from industrial robotic drones to rubber ducky’s, and established technology and consumer products brands bring connected apps to their traditional mass consumer products, a critical mass is being reached in the market. Any product is expected to bring some digital value. A product without technology is now at a disadvantage in a category filled with products that now have both a physical and digital benefit. Take Sleep Number’s new connected bed technology for kids, SleepIQkids. Already the leader in embedding technology into their mattresses, Sleep Number has taken digital connectivity to the next level with a smart bed that grows with kids. The SleepIQkids app will alert parents when the child leaves their bed, and allows kids to use augmented reality to check for monsters under the bed and be rewarded with gamification in the app for following their bedtime routine. Sleep Number has provided significant digital value to a very traditional product with digital, using app connectivity to positioning their brand uniquely in the category. With this competition popping up in every category of business, it’s critical for marketers to consider how to enhance the digital value of their brands in 2015.
4. The Next Great Digital Brand Platform is TVs (Again)
Of course, CES has always been about the TVs. 3D, Curved, Bendable, 4K, 8K, Quantum Dots, OLED, HDR, UHD… when it comes to TVs and CES, there’s always a new technology to talk about. But the most important aspect of TVs for digital marketers didn’t get that much buzz at CES in 2015, and that’s the ‘smart’ in smart TVs. The proliferation of smart TVs, with the majority of TVs sold in the last 3-5 years including app-based platform, has resulted with a digital content divide on consumers TVs. Unlike on the second screen, where mobile devices include many different forms of content that engages consumers in meaningful ways, apps on TV just aren’t delivering strong branded content (outside of a very few best cases, like RedBull TV). There’s a distinct opportunity for brands to deliver content to iPTV platforms and to distribute digital content to smart TVs via branded apps or channels. There are a number of new smart TV content distribution platforms that can allow brands to distribute their content to smart TVs, and digital marketers are looking at how to not only distribute their digital video across these platforms but how to make an amazing, integrated experience for consumers who engage with their videos on any device. The second screen and the first screen are coming together, and as most homes now include smart TV apps in the home, it’s an important time for digital marketers to ensure this CES staple is central to 2015 plans.