CES returned to Las Vegas this year, but the comeback didn’t live up to the show’s pre-pandemic reputation. Known for its palpable energy fueled by speaking events, content releases, performances and parties, this year was far more intimate, with closed-door meetings and invite-only discussions. Attendance was about half that of pre-pandemic shows, with roughly 100,000 attendees. However, the dialed-back version of CES was in good taste following unexpected industry-wide layoffs in the last few months.
Innovations focused on accessibility
From a tech perspective, accessibility was a key theme, with several brands introducing products designed to enable people with disabilities navigate the world with ease. Some highlights include:
- HAPTA by L’Oréal is a computerized lipstick tool for people with limited fine motor skills
- Brow Magic by L’Oreal is an electronic applicator that uses AR tech to apply brows
- Project Leonardo is a customizable controller kit for PlayStation 5
- Dignity Lifts – Allows people with little movement to use the toilet independently
Media companies and agencies stepped back from flashy events, keeping things quiet and fiscally responsible. Conversations about media advancements and investment centered on performance media and measurement, with brands staying hyper-focused on ROI and making smaller budgets work harder. The atmosphere felt similar to the beginning of the 2020 COVID-pandemic – timid and uncertain.
Brand media investment is on the back burner
In general, advertisers are pulling back in this time of uncertainty and waiting for the „best“ time to invest in brand. However, from a marketer’s perspective, investing while others are pulling back provides an opportunity to stand out and create lasting relationships with consumers. Over the next year, it will be interesting to see which brand lean in and find success the way tech companies did during the 2008 recession and again during the pandemic.
Although the economy is cooling, brands looking to get noticed have an opportunity to create cultural impact, be competitive in the marketplace, tell unique stories, and make a lasting impression on consumers.