Decoding the key trends emerging out of the first virtual CES

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As the first virtual CES comes to a close, we are left to reflect on the all-digital experience and reevaluate the trends signaled by the show’s new products and announcements. Rather paradoxically, this CES felt both smaller and bigger: smaller because less than half of last year’s 4,400 exhibitors opted to join the virtual show floor, and there was no cavernous convention hall to roam; bigger because of the ever-expanding scope of consumer tech products that now impact all aspects of our economy and daily lives. Attending CES from home only accentuated the essentialness of digital technology.

To better understand the trends coming out of this unprecedented CES and what they mean for the year ahead, let’s look at the key innovation sectors on exhibit one by one, and dissect the key narratives that emerged from each sector to uncover the brand implications beneath. …


The five key trends that marketers should keep a close eye on

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CES 2021 is set to kick off on Monday, and like many recent events, it is going fully online. Instead of the bustling show floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center, this year’s biggest consumer technology event will happen on a digital venue developed by Microsoft. No more getting stuck in awful traffic going between different venues, or waiting in long lines to get into a keynote venue; every content session, including the ones from the Lab, will simply be a few clicks away.

While the CES experience this year will undoubtedly be very different, it may just end up being a necessary reset that could prove beneficial for this long-running conference, which, admittedly, has been running into a rut of “same old, same old” incremental developments in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic brought great disruptions and forced everyone to re-configure the way we live and work, and we expect this upcoming CES to not only reflect the new normal, but also offer some interesting glimpses into how key innovation trends will evolve in a post-COVID world. …


How our Outlook trends played out over this unusual year

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

2020 has been a year defined by a devastating global pandemic that no one saw coming, which brought on a variety of changes in consumer behavior and accelerations in market trends to which all brands had to quickly adapt. Looking back on this highly unusual year, one thing stands out loud and clear — change is hard; it happens gradually and then suddenly.

Back in January when we released our annual Outlook trend report, we envisioned 2020 to be a year of sustained, steady growth of an increasingly digitized economy and algorithmic culture as big tech companies continued the race to establish the post-mobile platform of their respective choice. …


An exciting emerging channel for immersive storytelling, world-building, and unlocking fan creativity

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Image credit: Epic Games

It’s been almost a year since Fortnite’s exclusive Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker event, where fans got a sneak peek at the movie, played with lightsabers, and danced with director J.J. Abrams’ avatar, all inside the massively popular online game. Reviews of the event were a mixed bag, with some applauding it as a bold step towards the future of interactive entertainment while others finding it underwhelming and blatantly promotional. Regardless, no one could deny that Fortnite and Disney were onto something in their innovative collaboration.

Since then, Fortnite has doubled down by hosting a series of buzzy virtual concerts, including the reality-bending Travis Scott show in April that was viewed by 45 million players, as well as the season-ending Galactus event that took place earlier this week and introduced the relatively obscure Marvel comic character to a record 15.3 million concurrent players. In April, it also launched Party Royale — a separate, fighting-free island within Fortnite that features both a concert stage and a theater space for virtual events. …


December is shaping up to be the new April, and brands should prepare for many media and consumer trends to re-accelerate

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

December is the new April, judging by the way things are going. With new Covid-19 cases sharply climbing nationwide, some states such as Washington and New York have already reinstated some restrictions that were previously put in place to encourage social distancing and curb the third wave of outbreak.

Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse, given that it’s the season of holiday parties and family get-togethers. About 40% of Americans surveyed say they plan to gather in groups of 10 or more people this holiday season, and nearly 33% say they will not require friends or family to wear masks at Thanksgiving gatherings, according to a national survey commissioned by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. …


Live video worked wonders for Alibaba’s Singles Day sales, but it still has a way to go from taking off in the U.S.

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Amazon leverages live video for Prime Day sales

If you have paid any attention to retail trends in China in recent years, you’d know that live video has become an integral part of online shopping. According to a new survey conducted by AlixPartners, two-thirds of Chinese consumers said they have purchased products via live video in the past 12 months, and 81% of them planned to shop via live video during Single’s Day, the Chinese equivalent to Black Friday. This year, Alibaba reported it has pulled in 498.2 billion Chinese yuan, or about $75 billion, in Single’s Day sales so far. In comparison, last year’s Thanksgiving weekend and Black Friday sales in the U.S. …


What toy brand marketers need to know about the future of toys

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Photo by stem.T4L on Unsplash

Toys have always held a central space in the lives of children as they allow kids to explore new ways of thinking, learn valuable skills via play, and most importantly, have fun while doing it. Toys are also valuable to parents, for they grant a respite from the stressful tasks of parenting and allow them to focus on themselves for a while.

This year, the value of toys to both kids and their parents has been amplified by the stay-at-home orders and school closures, with a special spotlight on educational toys. …


The future of fast food restaurants; New Floor 9 episode on holiday shopping trends; Plus, news and stats roundup

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Lab Originals

Six Key Innovations Reshaping the Future of QSRs

Accelerated adoption of new technologies and changes in consumer behavior during this pandemic will have a long-term impact on the future of the restaurant business. Here are the six key innovations that are reshaping the future of the QSR industry, and how QSR brands can strategically leverage them to future-proof their businesses.

In case you missed it…

Four Ways This Holiday Shopping Season Will Be Different

COVID-19 has considerably accelerated the ongoing retail transformation. Now the impact of that accelerated transformation is set to usher in a holiday season like never…


And how quick-service restaurants can evolve with them

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Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

It’s no secret that the pandemic has been devastating to the restaurant industry. More than 100,000 restaurants and bars have permanently closed due to the pandemic, according to estimates from the National Restaurant Association. Fortunately, one particular sector has been rebounding faster than others. Thanks to an inherent emphasis on convenience and affordable takeout, restaurants in the fast food and quick-service category were able to quickly adapt to the new normal and serve their customers safely and efficiently. Technomic projected that the fast food sector’s market share will grow by 8% this year.

Despite some states reopening and resuming indoor dining at reduced capacity, most consumers remain cautious with heightened hygiene standards. After all, 77% of consumers recently surveyed by DataEssential say they feel the safest when getting their food from drive-thrus, quick service restaurants (QSRs) have a valuable advantage over other restaurants, and 74% of U.S. consumers have visited drive-thrus the same amount or more often than usual this year. …


Plus, Apple takes another stab at smart home with new HomePod Mini speaker, and other must-know announcements from the latest Apple event

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Editor’s note: This is an abridged edition of our Fast Forward newsletter, a fast read for you and an easy forward to your clients. If you wish to receive the full version a day earlier in your inbox, please contact Josh Mallalieu (josh@ipglab.com) to get on our mailing list.

On Tuesday, Apple held its second fall event dedicated to unveiling the iPhone 12 lineup, plus a new HomePod Mini. Much of the hour-long event went as anticipated, with no surprise announcement or changes. The four models of iPhone 12, with varying sizes and prices, are all 5G-ready, while the new HomePod Mini represents Apple taking another stab at the smart home space. For details on the new Apple products, 9to5Mac has a good recap. …

About

Richard Yao

Manager of Strategy & Content, IPG Media Lab

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