Of all the years to be stuck attending CES from our homes, 2021 proved to be perhaps the most unfortunate only because of all of the innovative products that were introduced during the past few days that we weren’t able to get hands-on with. That said, the big theme that ties many of the major launches together is this idea of creating a better living (and working) experience in the home — something that wouldn’t have been so important if it weren’t for the very reason we had to attend this CES from afar.
While the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to force us into challenging circumstances, as CES 2021 showed it’s also brought about innovation from the tech industry at speeds that are mind blowing, even in an industry that’s used to fast-paced change. Manufacturers who were forced to pivot — much like the retail community that they supply — took the opportunity to crank out products and concepts that have the potential to leave lasting impressions on the industry, not to mention the way consumers work, learn, entertain and exist in their homes.
And it’s that very message that stands out from this show. The focus on adapting and changing the in-home experience through technology has resulted in myriad new product launches this year. But it should also be a point that consumer electronics and appliance retailers take to heart in how they talk with their customers while trying to understand their wants and needs and where these products fit into the equation.
The priority in 2020 was maintaining our health and safety. Now, as we shift into 2021, the focus is on adapting to this new way of living and making the at-home experience an enjoyable and efficient one. Brands who participated in CES 2021 perfectly encapsulated that idea through their innovative product launches, particularly in the smart home and smart appliance space.
There was Samsung with their new AI-enabled washers and dryers that can efficiently clean and dry your clothes. Alexa-enabled microwaves from Sharp were introduced that promise to take the guesswork out of cooking. Routers received more attention this year thanks to the increased stress on our home networks as we work and entertain from home simultaneously. Kohler brought a whole new level of smart to their bathroom designs at CES 2021 through touchless toilets and sinks and an app-controlled bathtub. TCL made their intro into the smart home appliance market with an air purification system that can reportedly eliminate some 99.97% of microbes in the air.
And then there’s this from Samsung — Bot Handy, a robot after my own heart that will load my dishwasher while pouring me a glass of wine.
And these are just a handful of the smart home related announcements that hit the wire during CES 2021.
What these launches signify —not to mention the tremendous amount of buzz around them — is a desire among consumers to simplify and streamline some of the most basic of functions in and around the home. The smart home market has nearly doubled in size over the past five years, growing from roughly $24 billion in 2016 to just shy of $47 billion in 2021, according to Statista. And that growth is only going to continue at an exponential rate as consumers become more familiar and comfortable with the concept of technology taking the guesswork out of running their homes. In fact, a recent security.org survey found that 80 million U.S. households intend to purchase at least one new smart home product in the next 12 months.
And Independent retailers are perfectly positioned to capitalize on that tremendous revenue opportunity. Success in this space boils down to identifying the narrative that’s going to connect with the customer on an emotional level. And right now, that message is one of both comfort and convenience. Independent dealers have the expert-level product knowledge. Their stores are better outfitted for intimate demos with these new and innovative technologies. And they have the ability to tell a much more compelling story than a corporate big box retailer.
Now, it’s up to them to go out and create those meaningful connections and package those products in a way — both on their showroom floors and in custom buildouts — that demonstrates the true potential of a fully-loaded smart home.
Rob is the corporate communications manager for Nationwide Marketing Group.