Are you CES ready?

Walking the floor at CES, physically or virtually, can be overwhelming for anyone. The choice of solutions seems endless. If you're part of a consumer goods company, one that was born before the digital revolution, how do you navigate it? 

That was certainly my quandary about five years ago. I was working with Colgate-Palmolive and we had determined that connected devices would change healthcare and the categories within it. For a non-tech company, experimenting early was our way of minimising investment and risk while the market, consumers and ourselves could get our heads around what was possible.   

CES offered me vital insight into how quickly the market for connected solutions was developing. I could get inspired by what others were creating and perhaps repurpose some of their ideas for my own business. Some of the VR experiences were exhilarating, the self-stirring saucepan was just amusing. Either way, CES definitely helped me plot my course.

I have to admit that it was tempting to simply make a basic connected device with an app, like many early launches, and push the MVP out to market. But we knew we could achieve so much more than that. Because the Colgate brand stood for something meaningful (better futures) and connected devices could enable us to deliver that truth in an exciting and engaging new way. This guided everything we did from then on – from the early test products to the recent launch of Colgate hum. 

Consumer opportunity areas

At Cambridge Consultants we've worked with many brands to do something similar. Recently, my colleague Ruth Thomson hosted a webinar on the personalised beauty opportunity, alongside Stefan Biel from Beiersdorf and Valentin Langen of Ioniq Skincare. Personalisation is one of the major opportunity areas that connected products unlock for consumer companies. While there are many challenges to successfully fulfilling the personalised proposition, we were intrigued to learn that the biggest question from the audience was ‘what’s the business model’? 

Anyone familiar with the work of Alex Osterwalder, the innovative thinker who gifted us with the Value Proposition and Business Model Canvases, would know both the product and business model should be designed and iterated upon at the same time. They build and reinforce each other. I would add that for established businesses and brands, your existing foundation should also be on that starting block.   

What we call ‘product+’ solutions should enhance what your brand stands for and build upon what has already made it successful. We recently partnered with a beauty client to develop a business model for a portfolio of connected products. One which could extend their user base. We designed a solution that would not only provide a great experience to the end user, but one which would create value for all stakeholders in their world.

In this case, the device enabled the business model – and the business model created value that could enhance the broader business. Right now, we're doing something similar with clients spanning pet care, laundry and drinking water. A pretty diverse group.

Business expansion

For CPGs – or FMCGs if that’s your preferred term – it’s easy to regard this opportunity as a tech one and that you're either in or out (for now). But I think of it as a business expansion opportunity. A new way to engage with users one-to-one, an opportunity not normally afforded a consumer goods company. 

Adding a screen to something like the toothbrushing routine may seem superfluous but if used well, it can create financial and brand value beyond the reach of the existing business. If you had two minutes twice a day with your user, what would you say to them? That could well be a multimillion dollar question.

If you’re heading virtually for CES, enjoy the show. A team of Cambridge Consultants colleagues is exhibiting – check out all the details here. And do please reach out to me if you’d like to continue the product+ conversation one-to-one.

Jennifer Gomez
Digital Transformation, Consumer

Jen helps consumer businesses transform digitally to grow in new ways. She has 20+ years experience in brand and global business management, with a focus on breakthrough innovation and launching new platform opportunities. She is focused on turning great ideas into in-market success for her clients.

Connect with Jennifer