Experience is the new key to tech attention

The term 'sensory overload’ could have been crafted for the CES tech expo in Las Vegas. So overwhelming is the array of new products, new brands and new concepts, it’s difficult to keep focused, whether one is a consumer, distributor or reseller.

CES is a trade show, so most of the 170 000 visitors should, strictly speaking, be looking for deals, distribution agreements and licences. The question is, how does one attract their attention amid 4 500 exhibitors and more than 20 000 product launches?
That’s not merely a question for marketing and sales departments. It’s fundamental to the entire information technology industry, which sees hundreds of new products launched daily around the world.
There are, no doubt, many answers, but CES this year encapsulated a fundamental secret in one word: experience.
Major brands put intense energy into creating experiences that would keep visitors at their stands for a little longer, and away from the plethora of competing products. That, after all, is how big brands remain big brands.
At CES 2020, two brands demonstrated just how to give visitors an experience that would captivate them during the show, and stay with them long after. They used two very different approaches, however, illustrating the extent to which one size or type of experience does not have to fit all.
The most dazzling stand was that of LG Electronics. Visitors flocked there, initially, to witness the world’s first roll-down TV, a 65” unit that rolls up, almost out of sight, into a ceiling fitting. It was a sequel to last year’s first roll-up TV, the 65” Signature Series OLED R 4K TV, which could be rolled down into its base. The R is expected to release to retail at $60 000 (about R860 000) this year, which put a dampener on enthusiasm for the new product.
But that was not the pièce de résistance. Instead, LG transfixed visitors with the LG OLED Wave: an overhead display made up of no less than 200, 55” convex and concave OLED digital signage screens. Measuring 6m high and 25m wide, the exhibit immersed visitors in a journey of discovery through the natural world.
Display technology
Once they emerged from the Wave, they encountered The Fountain, a synchronised performance from 20 Signature R TVs, each rolling up and down separately while imagery flashed across the grouped screens in a choreographed sequence.
The photos and videos of these displays all but dominated social media and press coverage of CES. The impact? Underlining LGs status as leaders in display technology.
The consequence was that resellers attending CES had LG top of mind, even while exploring other stands.
Then there was the taste experience. One of the biggest sensations of CES was not a gadget, but a menu option. Impossible Foods, which last year became the first food company to exhibit at the tech expo, served up a duo of plant-based 'fake meat’ products called Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage.
It served up 25 000 samples of their new products – a feat that no gadget producer could possibly match. Last year, it had served 12 000 sliders of the Impossible Burger 2.0, the sensation of CES 2019. In the first 12 hours of the show, it generated 300 media articles. That propelled the company to the forefront of the fake meat industry and, in the next three months, it raised $300 million (around R4.3 billion) in venture capital, valuing the company at $2 billion (around R57 billion).
And that, in very round numbers, tells us the power of product experience.
Arthur Gold stuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-inchief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee. 
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