Make it Personal, Make it Visual, Make it Memorable: Three Marketing Insights from CES 2020

Attending CES has been a dream of mine for years, so when I went to my first show in 2019, I couldn’t believe the size of the event – miles and miles of gadgets and booths, ranging from cars to kitchenware to infrastructure. Having survived my rookie year at CES, I attended CES 2020 with a little less awe and a lot more focus, noting how every industry imaginable is affected by the advancements on-display. As a marketer though, I couldn’t help but take in the show through that particular lens, coming home with three important insights.Let’s get Personal
Personalization has been on marketers’ radar for years, but it’s finally feeling like the principles are becoming mainstream. While we all know that data is collected through activity on our phones and laptops, smart speakers, TVs, and even our cities are now monitoring and collecting information on us practically every moment. The upside to all of this is that our preferences are easily known: Alexa can predict the next song we’d like to hear, the thermostat knows when to turn down the temperature in our home, the GPS in our car gives us the drive time to our favorite breakfast spot when we start the ignition on Saturday morning.

So how does this come back to marketing? Consumers today have less tolerance for content and communication that is not tailored to their preferences, and with all of the data being collected today, marketers have no excuse not to give their audience exactly what they want. Companies and campaigns that continue to use blanket approaches will without a doubt lose market share and influence to those organizations providing targeted messages and bespoke content.

Design Matters
Humans are first and foremost visually-driven. In fact, sight is so important that about half of the human brain is dedicated to it. In a setting like CES and in a town like Las Vegas where we are bombarded by lights, signs, colors, and movement, design matters. The demand for our visual attention has never been stronger, meaning logos, photography, and packaging have never been more significant. There is a clear distinction at CES between the brands that get it and those that don’t, the booths with brilliant color pallets and a crisp, clean look, and those whose appearance feels disjointed and unsatisfactory.

This is a reminder that companies should take their visual appeal seriously. Think about product packaging as art. View logos as masterpieces. Cutting through the clutter in the marketplace often means a hefty investment in design, but it’s surefire way to leave competitors in the dust.

Escaping the Sea of Sameness
Roaming the pavilions of CES reveals endless rows of identical products with identical features and little differentiation. Still, some products manage to outsell their competitors 100-fold. Think about Apple Airpods. There are countless out there with the same quality and at half the price, yet everyone still wants Apple. Electric cars have been around for decades, but mainstream consumers didn’t really care much for them until Tesla came along. Differentiation often happens not in the product, but in the brand.

Walter Landor famously said, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” In a world where technology and manufacturing are cheaper than they’ve ever been, where CES aisle after aisle boasts the same “innovative” product, brand identity is the only way for companies to escape the sea of sameness. A brand’s unwavering truths and ideals, how it relates to consumers, and the emotional response it evokes are what set it apart from the rest.

Bringing it Home for 2020
Even away from the Las Vegas glitz, consumers demand personalization, they expect visual appeal, and they crave a brand worth connecting to. I look at the talent of our OH Partners team and see their dedication to targeted messaging, award-winning creative, and stories that make the difference. How we win both the hearts and minds of consumers will continue to set agencies and their clients apart in 2020, and with all that I saw at CES this year, I have no doubt we are ready to run with the best of them.

About the Author: Scott Harkey is co-founder and managing partner of OH Partners, one of the nation’s fastest-growing independent advertising agencies. The agency is turning heads of brands and holding companies alike with its passionate, agile work, focused strategy, innovative analytics and an unmatched company culture made up of collaborators and creative thinkers.

Scott’s genuine passion to grow and elevate OH Partners and the industry is reflected in his forward-thinking work and successful leadership. His experience in media, analytics, and traditional and digital marketing help him spearhead integration initiatives for international brands across a variety of verticals including CPG, luxury hospitality, gaming, entertainment and technology. Scott’s velocity, passion and problem-solving have positioned him as an indispensable partner while delivering profitable business outcomes.

Scott’s understanding of CMO, brand, and marketing trends is rooted in his enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the industry. He is at the forefront of the advertising industry as a member of the 4A’s Business Council and speaking nationally for ANA, Media Post, Media Life Magazine, Digital Marketer and others. Scott’s work has landed him on the Arizona Republic’s ’35 under 35 Entrepreneurs’ and the Phoenix Business Journal’s ’40 under 40′ lists. He was also named the Ad Person of the Year by the American Advertising Federation of Phoenix in 2018.