CES 2021: CPG Product Updates & Announcements

CES 2021 took place virtually this year from January 11th to January 14th. One of the largest tech events in the world, CES showcased new technologies in categories like consumer electronics, retail, automotive, travel, gaming, media, and more. I attended the event to scope out the updates and content in the CPG vertical, and to get a sense of how CPG advertisers are thinking about 2021 and beyond. Here are my top takeaways and notable updates from CPG brands at CES this year.

P&G made up for lack of physical presence with the LIFELAB. With this immersive digital experience, attendees could create their avatar, interact within virtual showrooms and even chat via their computer
mic. New products on display included the Oral-B iO Electric Toothbrush, Microban 24 Hour Home Sanitizer range and the EC30 Single-Dose Cleaning range, illustrating a focus on consumer health and environmental sustainability. 

Beyond the goods themselves, changes to the related consumer purchase experience have been prevalent in the past year, and many efforts to improve current conditions were demonstrated at the event.  

IBM’s Bob Lord recalled how their Call for Code initiative led to developing an app that safely enables users to visit physical storefronts while ensuring social distancing. Wayne Liu of Perfect Corp. offered insight into technology that allows consumers to trial beauty products through AR overlays while speaking with a retail assistant over video chat. 

Michael Suswal from Standard Cognition illustrated how their ‘Cell Phone to No Phone’ approach to contactless checkout allows for tracking movement of goods in and out of the store environment, allowing customers to enter, purchase and exit in a matter of seconds. Consumers want to see less friction in their buying processes and brands are likely to benefit when testing and implementing similar technologies.

More generally, brands on CES panels tried to convey their efforts driving or contributing to social change.    

Mark Pritchard’s Spotlight Session message was centered around supporting consumers and bringing societal change through constructive disruption, such as extending their responsible media supply chain and the introduction of ‘The Choice’ campaign. However, as Gabby Cohen from DTC razor brand Harry’s put it, “working backward, it’s really hard to develop a social mission that’s innately connected to the customer experience” and that it “has to be part of the fabric of  the organization, and not a side hustle.” CSR will undoubtedly be a key pillar of packaged goods companies’ go-to-market strategies for this year and beyond.

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