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February 1, 2021
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] CES 2021: Going Virtual
From rollable smartphones to graphics cards, AI-powered vacuums to drones, this year’s CES had plenty of cool and interesting technology to take in. It was the first year, also, that CES, the world’s largest consumer-electronics show, was not held in-person since its debut in 1967. This month, we’re looking into the numbers for CES, seeing how this giant show overcame the burden of the global pandemic, and what exhibitors brought to offer at the show.
In previous years, the CES show floor was absolutely packed with exhibitors from around the world, stretching over 2.9 million sqft in 2020, with over 4,400 exhibitors fighting for the attention of about 180,000 attendees. This year, due to public health concerns, the venue was moved to the virtual space, and as such, lowered the amount of exhibitors (1,943) and attendees (80,746) by more than half.
This goes without saying as being quite a hit to the numbers that CES is accustomed to pulling in. The show did succeed, however, on pulling in digital views. With over 3 million conference and keynote views, many audiences outside the attendees of the events were eager to see what CES 2021 had to offer.
And there was a lot to see. LG unveiled the LG Rollable in a trailer that demonstrated the rollable smartphone’s front side capabilities as the screen grew and shrunk. Razer unveiled a ‘smart mask’ with RGB lighting and rechargeable filters. NVIDIA and AMD also came to battle it out with reveals of new graphics cards for gaming laptops and processors for mobile devices.
So how did the exhibitors fair in this new virtual space? It’s reported that the show generated over a million leads for exhibitors. Not bad considering the fraction of the costs required for exhibitors to hold their exhibitions virtually compared to the pricey real estate of the CES showroom floor.
This does not mean CES 2022 will be held online, as it has already been announced that they will be back in Vegas next January. The lessons learned from this experiment, however, will certainly carry over to how companies and the show itself approach virtual attendees in the future.
January 1, 2021
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] 2021: Metaverse Pt 2: Where We Go From Here
Last month, we dived into the ways the Metaverse has become a part of our daily lives, in no small part due to the isolation that resulted from 2020. This month we will discuss the future of the Metaverse, and where things could potentially lead to going forward.
Telehealth, Virtual Care
The rise of telehealth during 2020 could be accredited both to the pandemic as well as the increase in the use of 5G and VR technology. The ability for doctors to be able to diagnose patients from the safety and security of their own homes, allowing both patient and practitioner to avoid the potentially dangerous contact of the COVID19 virus, is not to be understated, but the potential for this technology reaches far beyond the current pandemic. Nursing homes, rural communities, even areas of conflict, could greatly benefit from having highly trained doctors and nurses lend their diagnosis from afar.
5G and Streaming
Streaming services are experiencing boosts in activity from the rise of 5G technology, allowing audiences to stream their favorite entertainment platform anytime, anywhere. This only stands to grow as audiences flocked to streaming services during the pandemic as other forms of entertainment became limited or unavailable. Add that to streaming innovations like the League of Legends Pro View which allows audiences to change their POV during streams to follow the action, and the advancement of VR technology for streaming like Wowza and Delight VR allowing content creators to offer streams in 360 degree views, and streaming will certainly continue to reign as a staple in our lives in the Metaverse.
Business through Virtual Spaces
Companies all over the world in 2020 had to face the possibility that the future of business may not be face-to-face. It may, in fact, be conducted through the virtual spaces of the Metaverse, as South Korean telecommunications giant, KT, illustrated through their virtual agreement signing with FarEasTone Telecommunications in April of last year. The agreement to jointly develop 5G services between the Taipei and South Korean companies was conducted through KT’s virtual platform, Engage.
If companies can save money and resources by conducting meetings and important events through digital platforms like Engage or other VR services, surely it would make sense to engage more with this technology as the experiences become more fluid and natural.
December 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] 2020: Reaching into the Metaverse
Like something out of a science fiction film, the Metaverse has arrived, becoming an intimately interactive part of our daily lives. 2020 has created a perfect storm of social responsibility and advances in technology to push our virtual-centered lifestyles even farther. Our lives are lived through virtual spaces, in games, Zoom meetings, online classes, and social media platforms. This is why businesses and governments alike have found ways to become an intrinsic portion of our virtual habits, creating experiences and events that meld together our hobbies and social lives with the messages these entities create in the virtual world that links us all together.
Virtual Spaces and Marketing
2020 has brought in a new era of marketing through the use of virtual spaces. Due to the need for social distancing, which led to the cancelation of many exhibitions and events around the world, major industries that communicated with their consumers through these events reached out in surprising ways to audiences through the use of virtual spaces.
Virtual Market 4 in Japan was a virtual reality exhibition that used the revolutionary ‘VR Chat’ platform to present and sell wares to its users, mostly in the form of custom cosmetics for user’s virtual avatars. However, this year there was one big auto giant that seized the opportunity to reach audiences through the Metaverse by making a virtual, interactive exhibition space. Audi created an exhibit for the Audi e-tron Sportback, allowing users to take the vehicle for a virtual spin around their custom-designed track. The event had over 700,000 attendees, which makes this the largest virtual event in existence.
Government and the Digital Planes
Virtual events aren’t just reserved for the likes of private companies; government entities too have been dabbling in the virtual spaces of the Metaverse. These have ranged from simple online exhibits to entire worlds created within video games to spread messages to the citizens of these nations.
During the presidential race, Biden-Harris’s campaign put together a very special reminder for the citizens of the United States to go out and vote with the island they created on the wildly popular Nintendo Switch title, Animal Crossing. The island, named Biden HQ, included intricate details to make the virtual space really seem like a virtual field office for the campaign, including a packed staff office, voting booths with instructions on how to vote, and a virtual Joe Biden wandering around the island.
South Korea’s Blue House had also gotten into the Metaverse this year, utilizing the powerful creation tools of Minecraft to create a virtual world for citizens to visit. Normally, every year, the Blue House opens up for visits from the youth of South Korea on Children’s Day. However, as a result of the global pandemic, this was not possible this year, which led to a very creative solution from President Moon’s staff. The Blue House server was created to give children around the country a chance to visit the Blue House and many other sites virtually, creating a sense of community that would have otherwise been missing if the annual tradition had not carried on.
Culturally, the Metaverse has also evolved. Music Idols are being represented through virtual avatars on online platforms, which create a connection between audiences and members of these groups that has been unfelt before.
Zepeto, the augmented reality chatroom app, has made the famous KPOP idol group, BLACKPINK, their official virtual models earlier this year. After making this official, the group announced it would hold a virtual fansign through the app, as meet and greets were made nigh impossible due to the global situation. The group also created a performance using their digital avatars in partnership with Selena Gomez under the title of “Ice Cream” earlier this year.
Not to be outdone, gaming has also proven to be an attractive space for artists to release new hits and create virtual concerts. Travis Scott and Marshmello have both found great success with Fortnite. In April, Travis Scott’s Astronomical performance brought almost 30 million attendees online to view the playable concert series, where the larger than life performer debuted his new track “The Scotts” to audiences around the world.
Throughout 2020, our social interactions and popular culture are starting to blend together in a virtual world where governments, companies and popular cultural icons come together to occupy the same space. 2020 won’t be the end of the Metaverse however, as companies and other entities have learned these virtual spaces have high potential for reach and can help make connections with a consumer base that has moved to a more virtual-centric lifestyle.
November 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Hi, Speed : iPhone 12 launch Event
Apple has always been keen on innovation and reaching audiences in new ways. Now with the series of launch events and announcements we have seen from them, these strategies are bearing fruit.
The iPhone 12 launch event on October 13th revealed 4 new phones, including the new iPhone 12 mini. These phones include 5G capabilities and an improved camera, making them an attractive upgrade for Apple users everywhere. The presentation had the same great production quality that we are used to seeing from Apple, and it seems that even in the COVID-19 pandemic, they don’t seem to be holding back.
The hype certainly paid off. Within the first 24 hours of sales, the iPhone 12 outperformed the iPhone 11 by around 800,000 units, totaling to approximately 2 million units sold. A large percentage of the demand comes from China, where 5G is more readily available for use.
But that wasn’t the only event Apple held. A few days ago they held another event. On November 10th Apple revealed its new hardware with the Apple M1 Chip. The presentation also covered the next in the series of Mac Books, as well as the Mac Mini that will come standard with the M1 chip.
This is important because this transition means that the Mac Books will also be touting 5G capabilities as well, which will certainly appeal to Chinese audiences. Apple stocks have been on the rise since this reveal, and things are looking bright for the Apple brand.
October 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Esports: United in a Socially Distant Era
While the world has been changing rapidly over the course of 2020, with everyone now working or studying from home, one form of entertainment has fought to adapt to these changes and remain vigilant for fans around the world: esports.
COVID 19’s impact on the gaming industry has not been small by any stretch of the imagination. Events all around the world had to be canceled in response to the pandemic. As a result, new rules and formats had to be applied to ensure the safety of not only players and organizers, but the fans as well.
This, as we have seen, has led to esports leagues adopting a hybrid of streaming and online play, compared to the LAN formats we all know and love. It is a different feel, for sure, without the roar of the crowd cheering for their teams, or fans lining up after a match to shake hands with the winning players.
“But. What has been the effect on viewership?”
If League of Legends serves as any indicator, they seem to be doing just fine. Better than fine, actually. LCS reported that this year’s summer split had higher viewership than it has had since 2016. To top that off, at Worlds, they’re getting more viewership than ever before. Dexerto reported that Day 1 of the LoL Worlds 2020 destroyed the previous year’s record with 1.15M peak viewers.
CS:GO has also seen its fair share of viewership success, with hikes up to 113.2% over the previous year, back during the ESL Pro League in April.
It seems that despite the changes, fans are now more engaged than ever with esports. Whether this is due to increased screen time as fans are stuck at home, or from strategies taken by organizers to increase viewership, the verdict is undecided.
“So what happens next?”
Technology is only improving from here. With 5G infrastructure becoming more established around the world, streaming can only stand to spike from here, garnering viewership for esports from viewers who may not have been able to tune in before. This makes viewership, and even online attendance, of esports tournaments and festivals, an increasingly attractive option for event organizers. Though China and Korea remain firmly in the lead for 5G coverage, the US has been making great strides in the coverage major carriers offer.
Even after the pandemic subsides, these lessons will change the way esports are viewed and celebrated. This experience will certainly be utilized to improve the esports ecosystem, like reduced staffing costs with online set-ups or providing safer settings for players at tournaments, utilizing distancing and better health standards. 2020 has made a big impact on the way esports are done, and in many ways this will improve the longevity and stability of the future of the industry.
September 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Live Commerce, a potential cure to the retail industry’s COVID-19 plight.
With the pandemic still hot in the US, the retail industry has suffered as customers do not flock to areas like malls, outlets, or department stores as they observe social distancing and self-quarantine. In fact, within the first week of June, more than 2,100 stores closed across the US, and as many as 25,000 stores are expected to follow suit throughout the year. When comparing that with last year’s total store closings of 9,300, the impact of COVID19 is clear to see.
There may be hope, however, for the retail industry, and the answer lies in Live Commerce, a form of stream shopping that allows for customers to watch products be previewed, tried on, and tested on live stream, with one-click or other expedient forms of purchase enabling seamless transactions between seller and buyer.
China Leads Ecommerce
Does it work? Just ask China. In 2019, Chinese consumers outspent the US and UK in online purchases in 2017, and with an impressive $1.935 trillion in ecommerce sales recorded for 2019, there is some serious cash being spent online. While that is in no small part due to the smart strategies taken by ecommerce giants like Alibaba and Taobao, there’s no denying the incredible impact that live commerce has brought.
In one two hour live commerce streaming campaign, Maybelline sold more than 10,000 lipsticks, which is around $210,000 USD. On Single’s Day of last year, sales from Tmall’s live commerce service garnered sales of $2.9 billion, according to Alibaba Group.
There also does not appear to be any slowing down for the growth of ecommerce in China, as analysts predict this growth will last through 2023.
Where does it fit into US Retail?
So it’s successful overseas, how can it translate in the US? Well it’s already begun, just not at the scale China or APAC is running at.
Amazon launched Amazon Live in 2019, its own live commerce service, where hot items from the Amazon store are put on display and presented by creators. Dote also released Shopping Party, a feature that replicates the mall shopping trip on your smart phone, complete with influencers streaming trying on outfits and a chat box to interact with them.
The US is late to the game, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bounce back. With online shopping the only viable option for those trapped in quarantine or for those wishing to maintain social distancing, it is an excellent time for retailers to experiment with this highly successful formula.
August 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Distancing Messages from Major Brands in 2020
2020 has been a trying year so far. COVID19 spread across the globe, forcing governments and businesses to make tough calls considering employment and operations. In response, rather than their usual messages, brands have responded with forms of creative changes to their brand symbols in a form of meaningful marketing to show that they are in the fight with their audiences.
“Keep Your Distance”
The automotive industry has altered their brand symbols in inspired ways to emphasize the importance of maintaining social distancing. Audi has created this image, separating the 4 rings for which their brand is known. Other brands like Mercedes and Volkswagen have also joined in on this trend by altering their symbols to account for distancing.
“I’m loving it (on my own)”
It’s not only the automotive industry that is speaking out. All around the world, brands are telling audiences to practice social distancing. From South Korea to South America, these brands are coming up with creative ways to encourage people to stay apart, at least physically.
McDonald’s golden arches are one of the world’s most iconic images. That is why it is surprising that Brazil’s McDonald’s branch made the shocking choice to separate the arches for the first time ever, creating a sharp contrast between the iconic symbol we know. The message is clear, everyone should be keeping their distance to prevent further spread of COVID19.
“Changing the Handshake”
Social Distancing isn’t the only way to help protect against the spread. Hyundai and Mercado Libre have both changed their symbols to emphasize the need for precautions when interacting with others. Formally connecting seamlessly, these new symbols show off the ‘elbow bump’, a different way to great others without the issue of shaking unwashed hands.
Though times are difficult to navigate, brands are trying to maintain the message that we may be separated now, but that doesn’t mean we will be separated forever.
July 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Brands Responding to the BLM Movement and the Response Given
2020 has been a trying year so far. COVID19 spread across the globe, forcing governments and businesses to make tough calls considering employment and operations. Then in the early summer, with the unjust killing of George Floyd by a police officer, protests sprung up around the world in support of the BlackLivesMatter movement and the need for police reform. In response, rather than their usual messages, brands have responded with messages in hopes of reinforcing that they stand with the call to end racism, but in many cases, this message has fallen flat, and the sentiment has appeared forced and insincere.
“For once, Don’t Do It.”
On May 30th, NIKE released a powerful message, telling audiences “For once, Don’t Do It.” To emphasize it is time to stop ignoring the issue of racial inequality and racism in America. Nike’s competitors followed suit; Adidas retweeted the brand’s message, in a message of solidarity. The message generated a lot of support, with over 236K likes on Twitter, but at the same time it also came across as hollow to many social media users.
Many commented on how the sentiment was appreciated, but they wanted to know if the corporation was going to do more than just post about the issue. There were many comments remarking on the lack of black and POC representation in Nike’s board members. Others demanded to know how Nike was helping the black community.
To the latter, Nike eventually responded two weeks later with a breakdown of where its contributions go, and to which communities they benefit. Some applauded the transparency, but others criticized the brand for its tax avoidance, and how that was negatively impacting the communities it claimed to be supporting.
McDonald’s Speaks Out
McDonald’s also spoke out with a unifying message that attempted to try to bring audiences together in the movement for equality. However, the message was poorly received, as many users pointed out that McDonald’s and its business practices had caused considerable harm to the communities that it claimed to be supporting. From low wages to a lack of worker benefits, McD’s was slammed on its post for what appeared to be a hollow statement.
Other users also attacked the message for the contentious banning of black customers in China earlier this year, while others criticized the inclusion of Michael Brown in the list of victims. What was meant to be a unifying message ended up unifying those for and against the BLM movement in an unintentional way, as the majority of users agreed that this was an attempt to virtue signal, and that McDonald’s had failed to reach its audiences.
Facebook and Instagram Encourage Sharing
Facebook and Instagram made posts siding with the BLM movement, calling for its audiences to share black stories, and to continue raising their voices so that the names of those lost to police brutality are not lost. To show their commitment, they stated that Facebook would be pledging $10 million in support of ‘ending racial injustice’.
The responses were positive for the most part, with over one million likes on Instagram’s post, the majority of users agreeing that this was the time for using their voices to continue bringing awareness to the profiling and injustices experienced by black communities.
Using your brand to speak out about morality comes with its pitfalls. Audiences remember hypocrisies, and they are fearless to call your brand on it. In 2020, moral marketing has taken over, and consumers now want to hear more than just words, they want to hear how your brand can help. So be honest, be sincere, and most importantly, show how you can help.
June 1, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Virtual Experiences are Evolving
Virtual experiences have gained a lot of traction in recent months, connecting audiences in innovative ways on platforms like games, social media, and more. Here are some of the ways brands have created unique experiences while optimizing virtual platforms to capitalize on digital audiences
Astronomical: Fortnite and Travis Scott
Virtual concerts are nothing new, but the latest collaboration between Fortnite and Travis Scott for the Astronomical experience showed that the concept has a lot of potential to be tapped into. In order to build hype for the premiere of Travis Scott’s new track “THE SCOTTS” Fortnite worked with the artist to create a virtual concert experience for fans the world over to enjoy. Over the course of 3 days, 5 showings were held, with over 27.7 million unique users attending, for a total of 45.8 million views in game, according to Fortnite’s twitter page. Though this was not Fortnite’s first virtual concert project, nods to Marshmello, it did smash their previous concert’s attendance by more than 17 million attendees.
Travis Scott also reaped the benefits of this, as his new track, which premiered in the video, reached the number 1 spot on the billboardfor the week of May 9th. It reached the top of digital song sales as well, reaching 67,000 downloads by the end of April.
VLIVE and K-pop
Fortnite isn’t the only platform capitalizing on the virtual concert scene, as the online streaming and interactive platform, VLIVE, is catering to global K-pop fans with concert series like Beyond LIVE. VLIVE allows for audiences to interact with their idols by allowing them to ask questions as well as being able to video chat on stage, and Beyond LIVE is a collaboration of multiple K-pop artists for millions to watch perform. The concert series takes place every Sunday from April 26th to the end of May. Beyond Live is offering some big name groups like TVXQ! And Super Junior. If the first concert, featuring Super M, reaching 75,000 consecutive viewers from 109 countries is any indication, the concert series certainly shows promise.
AUDI and Virtual Market 4
Exhibitions have struggled this year as a result of the global pandemic, forcing exhibitors to explore new avenues to reach their audiences. One such method to be explored is virtual reality. Enter VR Chat, the virtual reality chatting platform where users can interact with each other using custom avatars. In VR chat, the Virtual Market series, or Vket, offers exhibitors the opportunity to run exhibits in a virtual space where attendees can experience their products from the comfort and safety of their own home. Last year, the exhibition recorded over 710,000 visitors, which attracted larger exhibitors to participate in this year’s event.
In the virtual “Para-real Tokyo” world, Audi, along with 41 other companies and 1400 stores, came to offer virtual audiences a unique VR experience with their product. Attendees were able to take the e-tron Sportback for a spin on a virtual track, as well as hear about the vehicle’s USPs from an on-site Audi specialist. Attendees were expected to exceed one million this year, and announcements for the next Virtual Market has already been announced for later this year
Virtual Experiences are Thriving
COVID 19 has negatively affected marketing and the way brands are able to interact with their target audiences in many ways, but this has also presented a chance for them to explore new and creative ways to reach out. Virtual experiences have shown they have a lot to offer in this regard, and the potential seems to only be increasing as time goes by.
April 29, 2020
[EIDETIC INSIGHT] Speaking to Consumers in a COVID-19 World
With social distancing in full swing, many are stuck at home as everyone around the world is waiting out the pandemic. This has hit the economy in a severe way, with the global economy suffering a 12% contraction during the first quarter of 2020, according to JP Morgan. As a result, companies around the world are seeking methods to increase sales and reach audiences at home. Whether this be through the leverage of technology, meaningful marketing techniques, or a reassuring voice during this trying time, these brands stand out for their quick adaptations during the global pandemic.
Taking it Digital
With most major B2C events being canceled due to health and safety reasons, automotive brands had to transform their traditionally offline exhibits into digital premieres that would reach audiences across the globe from the comfort of their own homes. Volkswagen took this opportunity to create a unique, virtual, solution in response to the cancelation of the Geneva Motor Show, by creating their own virtual showroom. The Volkswagen virtual showroom allowed digital ‘visits’ of the VW exhibition floor, where several models were on display. Virtual attendees are able to navigate their way through the showroom floor, listening to presentations about the vehicle USPs or freely wander around. They are also able to customize the vehicles they view by selecting the model’s paint job and rims. With the delay or cancelation of other motor shows like NAIAS, the automotive industry is exploring new ways of reaching audiences, and it stands to reason that automotive brands will find more ways to leverage technology to reach customers digitally.
Marketing with Meaning
The current pandemic has also presented an opportunity for brands to present themselves in a more generous and socially conscious light. Meaningful marketing allows for brands to connect with their audiences by interconnecting their brand image with a campaign that benefits audiences. NIKE is no stranger to marketing with meaning, having taken stances behind social issues, like their 2018 Dream Crazy campaign featuring the controversial Colin Kaepernick, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, as well as notable campaigns like their Find Your Greatness series that encouraged audiences to pursue their own paths to greatness, no matter how they viewed it. This time, the message is to stay home, not just for their sakes, but for the world’s, rallying behind the call to Play for the World. The campaign has been centered around providing support for those in isolation while encouraging those at home to stay active.
Nike’s Play Inside campaign offers access to their NTC Premium membership for free, further incentivizing athletes to help the world recover from the pandemic, and maintain social distancing by training indoors. Since starting their community workouts, the combined views on their community workouts page has surpassed 1.5 million views, with more audiences turning in every week.
COVID-19 has done a number on people’s worldviews, as many are finding themselves in low spirits due to the effects of the pandemic. This is why some brands have decided the best message they could send now is one of reassurance. Guinness has also sent out a message of reassurance, as the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was understandably quelled due to the pandemic and the danger of social gatherings. Large parades that are iconic of the festivities will not be held this year for health and safety concerns. Thus, the brewing company released a video stating that “we’ll march again” to their audiences, signifying that there will always be another time to march for celebration, and that this pandemic will not be the end of good times, or tradition. The brand also announced its commitment to the Guinness Gives Back Fund of $1 million in support of its local community and hospitality workers who have fallen on economic hardship due to the global situation. While everyone maintains social distancing, hospitality workers are sore for business, and this support will surely not go unnoticed.
In essence, show you’re still there
Regardless of how your brand chooses to navigate these times, it is important to remind your audiences that you are still there, and that you’re speaking to them. It is easy for people to feel like they are alone in this, with isolation and social distancing in effect, so it is important, now more than ever, to speak to your consumer base, and let them know we are all in this together.