Science fiction and fantasy book sales have doubled in the last decade. Everyone owns a smart phone. Popular entertainment is filled with fantastical ideas of how emerging technology will impact our society — for better and worse. As a result, consumers are more interested in digital, gadgets, and smart devices than ever before. Creativity is enhanced by technology, and the marketing opportunities unlocked by tapping these disruptive technologies can help brands break through the wall of noise to capture consumer attention in this increasingly “smart” world.
Dreaming of the Future: From self-driving cars to self-folding laundry, personal robots to ground drones, there is one constant. People love fantasizing about the coming future. Just look at the CES news coverage this year amidst one of the busiest global news cycles ever. There’s always a place for robot news – whether its excitement for toilet paper delivery, poking fun at electric license plates, or hoping for a day with Uber helicopters circling the skies. Brands can borrow equity from emerging technology by building creative experiences that help consumers picture themselves in this future state.
Nostalgia Tech: In an uncertain world that seems to be changing too quickly, consumers look to the past for comfort. Huge advancements in technology at CES are being built into retro shells to appeal to our past: smart thermostats that look like old thermostats, record player cabinets built into furniture, even cassette players, walkmans and boomboxes with terrestrial radios were on the scene. Brands can appeal to the inherent attention value of nostalgia while balancing smart sensors, computers and processes under that throwback aesthetic.
Aftermarket Upgrade: Making your daily life “smarter” no longer requires a huge investment or buying new appliances every few years. From aftermarket kitchen devices that control your old stove or slide into shelves to reorder your groceries, to Amazon Echo in your older car or a fingerprint lock for your front door, we’re starting to see more opportunities to make “dumb” devices smarter without huge cost. Leapfrogging competitors takes time and heavy investment, but brands can look for opportunities to plus-up existing products or create a low-cost marketing campaign product when “smart-lite” will do.
Small Screen Content on the Big Screen: Given the rise of streaming networks, mainstream smartphone adoption, and innovative ways to create and share vertical-first content, you could be surprised there is so much focus on 8K flat screen TVs at CES again this year. But consumers still want to watch content on giant monitors at-home. Brands should continue to explore thumb stopping, clickable and highly shareable advertising that will reach people where they want to consume content, including broadcast, streaming networks, gaming platforms, and YouTube.
Test and Learn Pilots: Your brand may not be ready to go all-in on the next generation of technology. However, you can leverage consumer engagement and press interest in A.I., IOT, VR, AR, and the rest of the alphabet soup for your brand today with small campaign pilots designed to drive buzz, articles and attention. Don’t get paralyzed at needing your emerging tech idea to be perfect. Build something small and launch it as a test. You’ll be surprised how much attention and traction a creative test with emerging technology can earn in 2020.
Greg Swan is director of digital, social, public relations and innovation at Fallon. Staying on the pulse of how technology is impacting marketing strategy and execution, Greg uses his expertise, passion and experience to create game-changing programs for some of the largest CPG, B2C, B2B and service industry clients in the world.