CES’ biggest innovations may be in the ‘health-conscious’ economy

Even brands known for TVs and computers recognize innovating in wellness and sustainability is a must to connect with consumers.

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A water-saving device L’Oreal plans to offer to hair salon partners.

One of the major revelations from this year’s virtual CES show is that consumer electronics have become just as plugged in to the health and wellness concerns that consumers have been expressing across categories over the last year.

What COVID has accelerated within the consumer mindset, is something Joe Dee, manager partner at Gene, is calling “the health conscious economy,” an umbrella term comprising not just health and wellbeing, but climate and sustainability. That has emerged as a predominant theme at this year’s consumer tech conference, where those in advertising and marketing are always on the lookout for changes to how consumers interact and engage with brands.

“For marketers and advertisers, one of the challenges this year and going into the future, is how do you position and market things with a different lens that can not only show core features, but also health and wellness benefits?” Dee says.

When it comes to health and wellness, there are also new technologies and startups innovating in health, like Ettie doorbells that check the temperature of a visitor to your home, telemedicine services and other offerings that are becoming table stakes in healthcare.

However, Dee says, what we are seeing is more everyday consumer brands and CPGs entertaining the health and wellness conversation.

For example, launches from computing accessories company Targus included a backpack and tablet case with antimicrobial coatings, and also a disinfectant desk light.

lg-maskLG, best known for its core smart TV, home appliances and electronics business, is coming out with a smart lined mask that kills viruses and is tech enabled to adjust to your breathing rate.

It’s developing what it’s calling a PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier, which the brand claims has filters that prevent 99.95% of viruses, bacteria and allergens from entering the respiratory system.

Kohler, the kitchen and bath appliances brand, is leaning heavily on contactless surfaces and has updated its touchless faucet to reflect the current pandemic paranoia. It is also adding more touchless toilets to its portfolio lineup, with a sensor that responds to a wave of the hand, and built-in LED lights that can be customized through the brand’s app. 

And at P&G’s fully virtual LifeLab presentation, Dee saw two buckets: transforming homecare, and looking through an entire product suite through the lens of health and wellness.

LifeLab is focused not just on the usual innovations around dental hygiene through Oral B, but also home hygiene through Microban 24, a sanitizing solution that keeps surfaces protected from the spread of bacteria for 24 hours. But LifeLab also showed how sustainability enters the conversation through things like the “50 liter home,” built around a water conservation ethos questioning why it is that fresh water is used to flush toilets. 

Water scarcity, Dee explains, is interesting for marketers and advertisers to consider, as it’s a topic consumers are increasingly interested in, as evidenced by, for example, Maple Leaf Foods‘ CEO Michael McCain citing a broken food system as one of its causes.

Beauty brand L’Oréal also unveiled a water saving device that it’s going to roll out to partner hair salons. The innovation is the result of a partnership between the L’Oréal Technology Incubator and the Switzerland-based environmental innovation firm, Gjosa.

Dee says agencies and brands that understand health and wellness journeys, and the importance of broader concerns for the planet’s health, will be able to best positioned to help brands going forward.