Baltimore, January 10, 2012 — The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has a reputation as the place where brands pull out their new and upcoming products. Their goal is to wow their buyers, the press and the public. However, more and more brands are displaying only mediocre products at the show. They save the really big announcements for times when they do not have to compete with 1,000 other brands for attention. While the CES is still interesting, for most brand watchers, it is also a waste of time.
First a disclaimer: I attended the 2011 CES as a guest of Lenovo. I serve on their blogger advisory board, and am passionate about their product. My goal in attending the CES was to see as much of the new gear as possible and write about it. Not just Lenovo products, but everything I could see.
This proved to be a near impossible goal. The first part of the problem was the sheer size of the conference. CES pulls in 140,000 attendees. If you have never had to wait in a line for a taxi in
The next problem is the purpose of CES. To illustrate this point, I want to share a personal experience. I was walking the floor of the CES and stopped at a booth that sold headphone and earbuds. They were ridiculously cute. The products were decorated with candy bar names, likes Sugar Daddy. It was a neat and interesting product and something I thought I could write about. A different view, so to speak. I had a badge that clearly said ‘Press’ and walked around the booth looking at the products. Here is the good part- they did not want to talk to me. Not because they were being rude (they weren’t), but because the main purpose of the CES is to sell product. When I say ‘sell product’ I do not mean selling to individual convention goers who buy one or two items for a booth. No, they had a book open ready to take orders from retailers like Target, BestBuy, and It’s Sugar. That company was there to sell thousands of lots, make contacts to sell even more lots, and show their returning customers what was new this year. I wasn’t buying, and they weren’t interested in an interview about the convention. This scene is repeated many times throughout the LVCC.
That is because this is what the CES is for. It is for electronics makers to show their customers (again, not you or me but buyers from stores and websites) what they are offering this year. Even the most social media friendly brands were unprepared to talk to me. Yes, they had knowledgeable people at their booths who could talk about their products specifications and features for hours on end, but they had not one PR person there to engage bloggers, brand advocates, or the average customer.
The ‘big’ names at CES put on a show. Their booths are fantastic. Here are some shots from the LVCC. Looks like a cool place to be, right? Now imagine each of those booths packed with hundreds of people. I was rarely able to get get close enough to the products that I wanted to see, so packed were the booths.
Even with all that, it is still a great place to be. So why should you skip it? Quite simply, brands are skipping the big CES announcements in favor of small targeted events. Let’s take Apple for instance, the gold standard in product announcements. Imagine they were to announce a new iPhone at CES. It would be big news, for sure, but it would be lost in the enormous amount of press releases and brand reveals that happen each day.
Instead, Apple invites the press and brand advocates to their company and announces all their product news on a day when they don’t have to compete with everyone else. By doing this, they accomplish two things. One is exclusivity, everyone is focused on them. The second is depth of information. Even when we know that Apple is going to announce a new iPhone, the news that there is a new Operating System too still makes news. They cover all the new products and releases. Everyone walks away knowing what is coming and when.
More and more brands are seeing this as the way to go. Take my sponsor Lenovo. They are announcing several new products, and had a press conference last night to do just that. Now, everything they said will move to the back burner as a new rush of information comes in today. But Lenovo is there for the same reason as everyone who displays at the CES is, to sell. As one of the top electronic companies, they will accomplish their mission in spades. However, as one of their brand advocates I can’t help feel a little regretful that their products won’t receive as much press as it should. They are competing for space with Samsung, Panasonic, and Microsoft.
CES is a fun time, there is a lot to do. Plus, it is in
Baltimore based, Amy Phillips is a columnist, blogger, public speaker, twitter addict and all around nerd.
Follow Amy on Twitter @amydpp.
Amy Phillips is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Amy at her Accidental Musings blog.
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