Media Village: CES 2019 – On Incidental Loyalty and Autonomous Driving

By Miguel Mora, Associate Director, Invention+, and Zach Freeman, Manager, Invention+, Mindshare

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Alexa, tell me what’s next for the Consumer Electronics Show – and what’s actually different for marketers from years prior.

It won’t surprise anyone to hear that a big point of interest at CES will be voice technology and its integration into new smart devices and appliances. But what’s really worth paying attention to are the developments and progress for commerce.  At Mindshare, we coined the term “incidental loyalty” to refer to a voice assistant’s tendency to recommend or purchase brands we have purchased before.  For example, when I tell my Amazon Echo, “Alexa, buy laundry detergent,” the default product offered to me is the same one that I purchased on Amazon the last time I ran out.  However, the concept of incidental loyalty is not limited to voice commerce, and emerging smart devices and appliances will use much more than audio cues to recommend purchases and autonomously restock our shelves.

Take, for example, the AmazonBasics Microwave released in September.  With this product, Amazon no longer needs me to tell my Echo when I’m out of popcorn.  Instead, the retail giant can simply keep track of how much popcorn I have purchased versus how many times I use the microwave’s pre-set timer for popcorn, automatically ordering more popcorn just before I eat the last bag.  Of course, popcorn is only the beginning.

Other smart devices with incidental loyalty implications include Amazon Echo Show, Facebook Portal and Google Home Hub.  Some analysts also predict that we’ll see new smart speakers with screens coming from other players on the show floor.  If consumers opt-in, then these camera/microphone combos have the future potential to monitor in-home consumer activity to inform recommendations and purchases based on what they see and hear.  Amazon might not need microwave data to know that I need a popcorn refill if I’m using the Echo Show in other ways — though marketers would obviously be more excited about this versus consumers.

Either way, be on the lookout for new voice integrations with familiar hardware and appliance developers like Sony and Samsung (especially in the traditional speaker, soundbar and headphone space).  Also, don’t be surprised if we see new forays into the voice-enabled hardware space from streaming audio platforms like Spotify, which has been the subject of such rumors ever since they integrated voice control functionality into their app. As consumers grow increasingly comfortable with voice search and commerce, expect to see new integrations and hardware from players seeking to position themselves favorably for a future where text-based search and commerce is vulnerable. — Miguel Mora, Associate Director, Invention+, Mindshare

The Next Steps for Autonomous Driving

It’s no secret that auto has played a growing role at CES over the past few years.  For 2019, CES has over 500 exhibitors listed for “vehicle technology” with everything from infotainment and safety systems to in-vehicle biometrics, connected car technologies and more.  While this will definitely not be the year that autonomous driving comes to the masses, companies are using this technology to disrupt industries in other ways.  In the last few months alone:

  • Volvo announced its first commercial self-driving trucks which will be used in mining.
  • Walmart and Ford partnered to deliver groceries to your door via self-driving cars.
  • Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project, launched a driverless taxi service this month in Phoenix, Arizona – though most cars still have safety drivers in the front seat.

What does this mean for marketers?  It’s no secret that self-driving cars have had their share of speedbumps in the past and that consumers are still some time away from owning them.  But a number of companies at CES are already planning for a future where drivers and passengers no longer need to pay as close attention to the road — where people will have more time to consume media and content, all while in the car and on the go.

With the inevitable changes to commuting and mobility behaviors, from a location targeting perspective marketers will need to define how to communicate with consumers while in the car.  Are they in a lean back environment where they can absorb video and long-form content?  Or will there be a new form of media with autonomous vehicles in mind?  For example, Disney and Audi are teasing a collaboration for CES that suggests they’re considering this a “new media type.”

And then there are the breakthroughs to come in 5G.  For example, Ericsson filed to do an autonomous test drive at CES with its 5G technology. Advancements in 5G will help drive reliability and better safety in autonomous cars, which is key because perceptions around safety are perhaps the biggest thing holding back consumers right now.  The future of self-driving may not be here yet, but it’s time to start thinking about what role your brand could potentially play. –– Zach Freeman, Manager, Invention+, Mindshare

You can also read the full piece in Media Village here.