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Consumers in Control: Thoughts from CES 2021

As all aspects of our worlds have gone virtual, the KWG team was able to attend multiple sessions at this year’s CES. We have spent the last few weeks discussing key themes that, not only shape our lives as consumers but will have a significant impact on the broader marketing industry and our clients.


Below highlights these key themes and their implications.


Consumers are in control and will choose when to engage


The pandemic has not only changed the meaning of engagement, but it has also elevated the importance of it. Technology has accelerated the shift towards consumer control — with just the click of a button, we can choose what to watch, or where to shop.


As a result, engagement is no longer an opportunity or a nice-to-have metric. It’s a necessity. Given the control that consumers have thanks to comfort with a virtual lifestyle, they also can pass right by and not engage with messaging that they do not deem relevant.


Marketers must provide value to drive engagement


Marketers are finding that they must provide value to capture consumer attention. P&G highlighted ways they are doing this by reinventing advertising through entertaining informercials, ‘How-to’ content, PR activations, and branding partnerships.


Leveraging engagement is a critical way to build 1P data, which has always been our most valuable asset as marketers. This in turn provides a deeper opportunity to provide value and will be even more critical in a cookie-less digital marketing world.


This will be a year about doing better, giving back, and reconnecting


Consumers played close attention to companies’ actions during the lockdowns this past year and will take social and environmental issues more seriously after the pandemic ends.


Content that goes beyond product/benefit information and connects with common values can add additional impact to sales and market share. Doing good, through sustainability and inclusivity, will be a prevailing theme in 2021.


The adoption of technology has accelerated


Consumers have embraced “physical reality” throughout the pandemic - leading to the rapid adoption of digital life. Technology has allowed us to stay virtually connected despite being physically separated.


This adoption has impacted our media consumption habits - COVID thrust people that might have otherwise been uncomfortable streaming, into trying. Streaming wars are still very much alive, but this high tide is raising all boats.


Technology has accelerated the shift in shopping behavior too. In the last 3 months alone, e-commerce has experienced 10 years’ worth of growth. Consumers are moving through the purchase funnel in a matter of minutes or seconds, particularly as technology enables more frictionless experiences that capture attention, drive consideration, and provide ease of conversion without leaving a particular platform.


Health & Wellness is more holistic than ever before


The idea of health in 2021 transcends basic immunity support, it is about personal betterment as so much of our lives are being lived at home. The pandemic has accelerated the mental and physical connection of wellness, resulting in a national conversation on mental health and a boom of personal renovation - exercise, new jobs, financial wellness, online classes, and home improvements.


Advancements in technology put consumers at the center of their health & wellness journey, making it more personalized than ever before.


The implications


The growing importance of consumer engagement can be seen as a threat or an opportunity. Either way, marketers need to embrace it.


As consumers continue to increase their control over the content they see and interact with, marketers must be sure to provide content & ads in ways that engage and provide value, or they will not be heard.


Consumers' quick adaptation of technology and new media forms offers marketers more ways to engage and deepen their connection with consumers.


As the path to purchase shifts online, advertisers will gain access to an overwhelming amount of data. It will be key to continue to make investments in data infrastructure and analysis while being nimble and agile to react to trends.


The high demand for self-improvement products and services will continue. Marketers should be prepared to react to the transformation of the personal wellness space, as advancements in technology are encouraging many forms of proactive ‘well care.’