January 2021

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built into Samsung TVs BSH, for example, has added smart technology

and connectivity to not only ovens but also dishwashers and other MDAs which can be connected and controlled from various gadgets, even your Fitbit watch. So while you venture out for a run, you can still ‘be’ in the kitchen. Another brand making significant noise is

Haier, which also owns Hoover, Candy and GE Appliances, which wants to be 100 per cent connected throughout its portfolio of products. Currently it has 18 families of products developed through app and voice connectivity, demonstrated nicely by Nova by Candy, a fully connected washing machine powered by a smartphone. The first of its type with one single button to control the appliance but also app learning about usage and making recommendations to enable consumers to wash smarter and ecologically.

A big year for TV tech The connected smart trend, already established in the TV category, continues to innovate by integrating all ‘assistant’ applications available into most ranges. This now includes Samsung, which has confirmed that Google Assistant will join the suite of voice assistants currently integrated in its smart TVs alongside Amazon Alexa and Bixby, continuing assistant enablement and connectivity across more devices in the home. Wider assistant integration across TV brands

pushes this trend further in 2021, giving many consumers a reason to upgrade their TV during the year… an Olympic and UEFA year yet again! Increasingly though, the trend is towards

environmental initiatives within the consumer electronics category. This is being driven by governments and consumers who expect to know the provenance of the products they buy. This includes understanding where it’s made, by whom, using what and the manufacturing impact of the practices and materials used to develop their device. This is certainly going to take further hold in 2021, forcing many brands to change and incorporate more recycled materials and inspire confidence amongst consumers who wish to buy into an environmentally positive brand. This will more likely become statutory when

you consider that the EU wants to make the likes of Apple and Samsung make their devices easier to repair, upgrade and recycle with ‘right to repair’ legislation intended to prevent premature obsolescence and end what it calls “a take, use, discard” culture. With the exponential growth of streaming

platforms set to maintain in 2021, it’s interesting to note that beyond the hardware, I suspect very few consumers realise the true environmental impact of video streaming on the planet. Data by futurescope has estimated that by 2023, there will be 30 million 8K televisions, which will require 50 per cent more power than the 343 million tablets in use worldwide.

Candy’s smart washing machines, including Nova inset

One thing is for sure, the direction of

innovation in consumer electronics will continue to be driven by the shift in attitudes brought about by the pandemic. This will shape 2021 as a smarter, deeper connected and increasingly more environmentally-friendly feature choice in our homes.

What’s in store for 2021? The need to recognise the change in consumer behaviour and attitudes to shopping cannot be emphasised enough, especially for those retailers without an omni-channel approach. According to a McKinsey study, 63 per cent of UK consumers have tried new shopping behaviours since the pandemic started. What’s more, up to 88 per cent of them intend to continue that adopted behaviour. Brand ‘touchpoints’ are increasingly becoming

digital, rather than physical, in a world of social distancing. With physical retail in a cycle of lockdowns and people subject to ongoing restrictions, the world of browsing and touching is becoming lost. But this key influencing purchase simply can’t be replicated in the information-led online realm.

Also, think about the memory that consumers

will be left with. The decision to purchase – whether online or instore – should create a smooth transaction. And if something is not in stock, it shouldn’t be a problem as you should have a system in place that enables the consumer to order it via click and collect or delivery. The role of other touchpoints has become

even more vital in creating a customer journey – one which captures the imagination in line with identified trends to create intrigue in the brand, sparking the consumer’s curiosity to explore that brand and make considered purchases. With this in mind, what are you going to do

differently to adapt and meet the needs of the consumer in 2021?


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