While our consumer electronics and entertainment analyst teams are regular fixtures at the largest and most influential tech event each year, this year saw two members of the Futuresource marketing team head stateside to experience their first CES in Las Vegas.
The marketing team, while present at several events over the course of the last year, hadn’t quite made the journey back across the pond to an event as renowned as CES. Once the team arrived back in the UK – and got over their jet lag – sat down with both Kayley Bright and Vicki Hayward to get some insight into the event from a marketing perspective – a first for Futuresource!
Vicki: I think it’s safe to say that I massively underestimated what everyone told me about CES beforehand. I kept thinking to myself, ‘I’ve been to countless events, I get it!’ except, I really didn’t, it seems. I genuinely did not anticipate the sheer scale of CES. It was enormous in every sense of the word and covered absolutely everything you could possibly imagine in the consumer electronics space. So much so, that as much ground as we covered, the abundance of things we witnessed, the keynotes we watched, as well as the companies we met and stands we dropped in on, we felt that we’d barely scratched the surface.
It was also wonderful to experience the buzz about the place from industry experts, as well as the press and general attendees. The press rooms were incredibly collaborative, and the level of support in terms of what to see and where to be from people who were seriously big fans of the event was great. Both Kayley and I chatted our way through a lot of press lunches and met some great connections that we wouldn’t have made otherwise.
Kayley: I agree, the event spanned multiple locations throughout Las Vegas and was so immersive across every topic we were focused on. Gaining access to the press conferences and product announcements being made in real-time was just as invaluable to myself and Vicki as it was meeting with like-minded individuals in the industry. Hearing first-hand about their latest innovations and developments has really helped us with a lot of our content and general marketing plans for 2023, whilst opening the door of opportunity for partnerships and collaborations too. On a personal level, CES has given me a renewed appreciation for the start-ups behind many of these new product developments; it was inspiring to see so many fresh concepts being brought to the table.
Kayley: A highlight for me was what felt like a very conscious shift by some brands towards a more inclusive place – especially within the gaming remit. Sony’s new controller, which has been designed to address challenges faced by players with disabilities and/or limited motor control, was just one of the many examples of technology catering to individuals. This allows players to play games for longer – in some cases, bringing individuals closer to their peers, rather than leaving them feeling isolated by not being able to join in.
Sony’s keynote was also interesting to me from an integration perspective. The synergy we saw between gaming, TV and film was interesting. The launch of the likes of The Last of Us and the announcement/reveal of the Gran Turismo movie was indicative of how audiences are viewing and interacting with specific formats cohesively – there now feels like a seamless integration between each that I found really interesting.
Another highlight was having Ted Romanowitz from the Futuresource B2B team in attendance at CES. His experience in Micro LED and displays was not only helpful to me and Vicki, but it really represented a positive example of our own within Futuresource too, in terms of the crossover between consumer electronics professional displays at CES. Plus, it’s never a dull day when Ted is around – it was a pleasure to finally be able to meet him.
Vicki: Not only was CES my first official Futuresource event, but it was also my first time meeting the team in person. So, it would be rather remiss of me if I didn’t point out how much I really enjoyed getting to meet and getting to know some of the team in person for the first time. However, it was also a real privilege to be able to watch our analysts in action, so to speak. I was present while Principal Analyst, Simon Forrest, talked about some of his findings at CES, and what he’d witnessed – touching upon some of the topics we’re expecting to see in the upcoming post-show report – and it was genuinely rather thrilling to see that thought process and expertise in real-time. Again, I’d seen a lot of analyst insight written down, and had watched Guy, Simon and Rasika give their 2023 tech predictions ahead of CES, so part of me definitely knew what to expect.
I also really enjoyed spending time watching the keynotes and covering the pre-event announcements. I enjoyed having a walk around Eureka Park to look at some of the innovations on display – The focus we witnessed throughout the event on immersive, in-car experiences and entertainment was also a real highlight too – a very “living in the future” moment for me.
From a personal perspective, I was really intrigued by the growing interest in wireless turntables. The concept of listening to vinyl has always been rooted in a rather traditional and vintage type experience; you want to hear those vinyl snap, crackles and pops, so to speak, in the sound. Or, at least, I do. So, to see a concept that is quite retro as far as sound goes and seeing how brands are innovating and becoming increasingly synonymous with a medium that’s constantly demanding improved and immersive sound quality was an interesting one for me.
Vicki: It didn’t really come as a surprise that sustainability was a major theme at CES. We witnessed some fantastic presentations and discussions on the topic at Audio Collaborative last year, and I suspect it’s a theme we’ll see increasingly more of at events in 2023 and beyond. It’s a topic – and a commitment – that I am personally really invested in, and what really interested me was that each keynote, each company and each presentation had the same steadfast commitments towards reaching net zero, reducing carbon footprints, emissions and harm to the environment. Perhaps most importantly was the overt effort these companies went to in order to highlight that in order to do so, they’re collaborating with other companies and forging partnerships, as well as timely commitments to work together on sustainable practices that benefit everyone, rather than as a PR statement or quick headline. There was a real sense of duty involved in reducing the collective impact big brands have on our environment, and I found that really refreshing.
Kayley: As Vicki touched upon, sustainable mobility was a recurring theme throughout, as well as transforming the car into a personalised living space through virtual displays, immersive audio, gaming integration and next level technology. Integrating the car as part of the connected home and the personalisation for individuals throughout – from automotive, through to CE devices – was interesting. Enabling technology to work in line with individual needs, as opposed to replacing the ‘human’ element of our day to day lives, was a theme we witnessed a lot throughout the event. In fact, a lot of the focus on customisation highlighted mood preferences for customers, for example, which amplified that immersive, connected experience we saw a lot of at CES.
Digital health, which has really gained a lot of popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, was also a recurring theme at the show. We saw demonstrations using smart technology and wearable devices – in many cases to improve overall fitness, monitor physiology and track mental performance. Aside from this – and perhaps to be expected (but nonetheless fascinating) we also witnessed a great deal of robotics, AR and VR dominating the show floor. There were also some impressive announcements focused on wireless, OLED TVs – with display tech being something that Ted Romanowitz was not only at the event for but covers in his own Future Sessions tech predictions.
Vicki: If I could be very selfish, I would like to say that I insist on going to CES again next year! I got so much out of this year’s event from the perspective of getting to know clients, getting to meet press and potential partners, spending time with my colleagues too, but also from a content creation perspective. There’s something really empowering about being on the show floor and knowing how you as a marketing bod can make a difference to your colleague’s day to day by supporting them on a piece of content with your own experience and knowledge taken directly from the show floor. It elevates the content you write, but it also helps foster a culture of support and collaboration across departments too.
In terms of what I would do differently, I’d maybe stretch a bit more before hitting the show floor! In all seriousness, going with an element of hindsight, but keeping my expectations high knowing that the event will be bigger and better in 2024 will be key. But there’s also a level of comfort and confidence to take from this year, because now that I’ve met some of our press and partners, that’s something we can continue to nurture and build upon – and I’ll be able to support my colleagues both at the event, and at home, more robustly because I’ve been there before, right?
Kayley: As well as being able to continue to forge and foster relationships we made at this year’s event, from a Futuresource perspective, we gained great insight at this year’s event that we can implement in our own hosted events. Given that Audio Collaborative is now entering its tenth year, I certainly took inspiration from the CES show floor to bring back to our planning we’ll be starting in Q2. The work that we do in the marketing team in relation to events is moving towards a much more cyclical space, and it’s great to have first-hand experience of how all of this comes together, but also how we can support the industry as a company, in light of what we’ve learned from both Audio Collab and CES in such close succession. Alongside all of the expertise and analysis our teams are renowned for in the industry, it’s also important that the rest of us – especially in the marketing team – have and keep their fingers on the pulse of market trends and news.
We were lucky to have a host of market analysts in attendance at CES, including Carl Hibbert, Guy Hammett and Simon Forrest, as well as ongoing digital support from the Futuresource team at home, who were beyond supportive in helping Vicki and Kayley navigate their first event!
The Futuresource CES post-show report will be hot off the press early next week. You can sign up to receive your copy of the report by tapping this link, and we’ll send it straight to your inbox once it goes live.
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