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OPINION14 January 2020

CES 2020: three innovations that will impact us this year

Innovations North America Opinion Technology

Savanta’s Vin DeRobertis was in Las Vegas for consumer technologies show, CES 2020, and shares his stand-out areas for our industry.

With more than 180,000 fellow attendees and over 4,000 exhibitors, CES is a show like no other and it’s easy to be overawed by the size and scale of the innovations. Distilling them down is tough job, but these are the three areas I’m most excited about which will have an impact in our industry and in the wider world. 

Pushing boundaries with interconnectivity

Carpooling, mobile retail spaces and on-the-go hospital clinics – a few of the things which will make up Toyota’s futuristic city, with a proposed development at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. 

Speaking at the 2020 CES conference, Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyoda, announced plans to build a fully functional city, with the purpose of testing driverless vehicles and smart technologies in a real-world environment. The initiative will create an interconnected world based on the continual communication of data between devices.

Imagine having a health check-up at home with a robot doctor, who then calls upon a self-driving hospital clinic to pick you up at your door to treat you. If that’s not enough, Toyota also mentioned that the city will be fully sustainable, with carbon-neutral buildings constructed from sustainable wood and electric cars which will charge from solar tiles built into the ground.

The difference between this city and others of its kind is that this is real – a real city lived in by real people. The city will be home to up to 2,000 people, including researchers and scientists, who will be involved in testing ideas in what’s been dubbed as a ‘living laboratory’. It is hoped this initiative will provide Toyota with a strong grounding for its future strategy, and result in a re-imagination of how cities will be built in the future.  

Plant-based alternatives becoming mainstream

Our daily tracker, BrandVue Eating Out, covers more than 150 eating out experiences in the UK and US, so we’re particularly interested in global innovations in the food and drink sphere. My highlight of the first day was Impossible Foods (IF) unveiling its latest meat alternative – ‘Impossible Pork’. The leading plant-based producer, whose mission is to replace the need for animals in the food chain completely, is hoping to tap into the Asian market with its new line.

The product is already available in Hong Kong and Singapore but CEO and president of Impossible Burger, Patrick O’Reilly Brown, told me that he hopes the popularity of pork in Asia will lead to expansion over the rest of the continent, before hopefully also gaining EU approval.

Impossible Pork is designed to mimic ground pork and can be used in dishes such as spring rolls, dumplings and wontons (to name a few) – all of which went down a treat at CES where IF handed out thousands of samples. Attendees could go back for guilt-free seconds with Impossible Pork coming in at 220 kcal and 16 grams of protein per serving, with a fraction of the environmental footprint that animal agriculture leaves.  

Burger King will be the first to feature the product in their latest creation – the ‘Impossible Croissan’wich’. This is following the success of the ‘Impossible Whopper’; a plant-based alternative to one of BK’s most popular burgers. According to BrandVue data, positive buzz for BK US (people hearing something positive about Burger King in the past month) has increased from 25.9% to 31.2% since its launch. In the main, it appears that Burger King’s meat-free offerings will be a winner in the eyes of both consumers and observers alike. 

Smart home technologies, getting smarter

This year saw the continued development of AI personal assistants and smart home technologies with Google and Amazon having the biggest presence. However, it was Samsung’s latest development – Ballie – which caught my attention. 

Ballie showcases how AI can be used to give personalised care for its users. The small ball comes with a built-in camera and is voice activated to follow users around the house. Among other things, Ballie can act as a fitness assistant and is capable of everyday household chores by connecting with other smart devices such as a vacuum cleaner.

Savanta data shows top of mind brand associations for smart home devices were dominated by Google, Apple and Amazon, with Samsung just behind these three. However, when asked about who would be credible to offer smart technology, consumers are open to brands from a broad range of sectors, which is good news for Samsung.  

Our findings also showed that there is huge potential opportunity for an array of brands, not just the US giants. It also indicates that consumers increasingly see smart technology moving out of the home: smart cars, smart supermarkets, smart world.

Key to success will be proving credibility and trust to deal with those data concerns. Beyond this, it’s also about being aware of what benefits and outcomes the consumer is looking for and the extent to which these impact the purchasing journey and decisions. ‍

Vin DeRobertis is CEO Americas at Savanta