As marketers, we often view the conversations we have with our customers through Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”—his motivational theory that as humans we all have basic needs, psychological needs, and self-fulfillment needs, and that the fulfillment of these needs leads to self-actualization. CES offers us a rare opportunity to witness how human needs have been influenced by changing technology trends, which begs the question: Can we group consumers by their needs at scale, and still have a truly meaningful conversation with them? This possibility is especially evident in the evolving definition of “wellness”, which encompasses connected fitness and consumer health.
In performance marketing today, we push data behind every action. To achieve the strongest ROI, we need to tap into true wellness conversations and create a relatable brand experience with digestible “sound bites” that are embedded into wellness needs.
At CES 2019, tech-enabled wellness broadly fell into three lanes:
Time. An increasing number of tech gadgets are focused on giving us time back. This is a growing trend: threading different applications to create an ecosystem of dependent activities that free up our time. We continue to see a rise of products that measure brain activity, monitor body changes, and create smart connections that make daily mundane chores easier (or completely nonexistent) to create peace of mind.
Travel. This taps into the notion of transporting oneself to different environments to create experiences, from a thrilling adrenalin rush to a serene and calming trip to an exotic location—all without the hassle of physical travel. As brands explore virtual travel for wellness and begin to look specifically at the effects of travel on health, the interpretation of immersive experiences is gaining significant traction. The rapid development of VR-based toys that focus on the concepts of flying and being in exotic locations is one example. It opens up an entirely new need space related to travel-related fitness experiences and even questions the very definition of being on-the-go.
Companionship. In the journey to self-actualization, and in a world where we are so focused on smarter tech-driven connections, there is a deepening recognition of loneliness and the need for companionship. Increasing numbers of products focus on technology that bridges physical distance with experiences rooted in a combination of real-time video and VR, and on robots that not only look more human but can interact, predict, and act. This extends not only into self-care but also in finding smart toys that help take care of our loved ones, especially when it comes to the elderly.
The bottom line. As we discover and create experiences for consumers’ changing needs, a word of caution: marketers today have to identify what is a true need versus a pure data harvesting experience with more gimmick than scale. This is what will meaningfully connect the brand to the new needs of their consumer.