CES 2019: The marketers’ guide on tech trends to watch

Jeremy Hull / January 2019

The start of a new year means the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is upon us. Jeremy Hull, senior VP of innovation at iProspect, shares the key trends marketers can expect.

Technology empowers us all to improve our lives — to achieve more, to learn more, to enjoy more. At the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, more than 4,000 companies demonstrate the future of tech by showcasing their newest devices and products. While it’s fun to get caught up in the excitement of bigger screens and smarter homes, CES also provides a window into the next evolution of consumer behavior for savvy marketers who look beyond the buzz.

Whether you’re on site exploring the showroom floor or following along at home, these are the key tech trends to watch out for at CES in 2019.

1. Look for the digital assistant to get even more helpful

For the past few years, connected devices have been a central focus of CES. Two years ago, the running joke at CES was, “And it works with Alexa!” Despite not appearing at the show in any formal capacity, Amazon’s move to open the Alexa ecosystem to third-party applications resulted in continuous buzz from the many device manufacturers that integrated the digital assistant into their products. In 2018, Google had a big presence at the event, including more than 200 exhibitors touting their devices’ ability to integrate with the Google Assistant.

In 2019, integrations with digital assistants are no longer a differentiator. Brands will need to showcase what people can actually do with these integrations. And they’ll have to go beyond novelty gimmicks that people try once then forget. The most successful integrations will be those that make people’s lives easier and help them get things done.

CES 2019

Ask yourself, “What role does my product or service play in a person’s daily routine, and how can a digital assistant integration support that routine?” Or “What do people want to do when they come to my site, and how can I translate that for the digital assistant world?” Starbucks, for instance, helps people order their “usual” through the Google Assistant.

2. Watch for innovation around health and wellness initiatives  


In 2019, the most powerful stories will come from brands that make people happier and more successful at meeting their goals. Expect plenty of wearables around health tracking, but also look for brands to build health and wellness functionality directly into the devices people are already using.

CES 2019

Marketers can tap into this trend by asking themselves, “How can we improve people’s physical and/or mental well-being in an authentic way?” For example, both Google and Apple have added features to their phones that help people monitor their screen time and thoughtfully “unplug” at specified times. These features modify updates and alerts to encourage people to develop healthier habits, and ultimately fulfill the promise of technology improving lives instead of further complicating them.

3. Expect AI to play a bigger role in predictive assistance


Using AI to make our lives simpler has been a promise since the late 1950s. And what has long been a hypothetical and intellectual discussion is finally becoming a more tangible opportunity for brands.

CES 2019

This year, there will be a lot of buzz about how AI is empowering data analytics, predictive technology, and inputs beyond text and voice (for example, Google Lens for images and Microsoft AI for faces and emotions). And that’s all being built into devices that learn as they are used and become attuned to people’s behaviors. We’ll see this come to life as AI-powered digital assistants don’t just answer questions or execute simple tasks, but also anticipate needs and act on a person’s behalf. It’s here — leveraging insights to predict needs — that brands and marketers should lean in.

Beauty brand Shiseido does this with the help of its BareMinerals Made-2-Fit app. The app helps people find the perfect foundation for their skin type throughout the year — and provides Shiseido with important information about its customers that it leverages to deliver relevant marketing messages and anticipate future makeup and skin care needs.

The products that aim to help people in their everyday lives and empower them to become the best version of themselves will be the most impactful. Count on these to shape consumers’ behaviors and elevate their expectations of brands in the new year and beyond.