IFA 2018: Would you like some assistants?

IFA Blog image copy

Google’s Assistant was all over the Berlin trade show as more and more brands were building voice activation into their products.

Once again IFA did not fail to impress with almost every CE brand attending – in fact there were 1,814 exhibitors over 161,200 square metres.

One brand, however, appeared to dominate and that was Google with its Google Assistant, which was almost everywhere. This included every booth that had a Google Assistant-enabled product on show, further demonstrating how Google is gaining against Amazon’s Alexa.

With assistant-enabled products in laundry from Hoover Candy, cooking with Electrolux, to smartwatches from TicWatch, thermostats from Netatmo and doorbells from Ring, extending to TVs from Toshiba, Hisense, LG and Panasonic, who both also have connected speakers, the dominance of voice assistants was most definitely the story at IFA.

One brand that stood out for me was LG, not just because of its impressive ‘Canyon’ TV display, but also its ability to appeal to a broad church of consumers across all demographics. Its innovation is visionary from its Cloi SuitBot and PorterBot that serve a niche and showcase LG’s vision of the future, to its core consumer offerings. Two standouts were the Instaview fridge with the knock twice to see inside feature, and the stunning 8K OLED television with greater contrast – although that’s not due for release anytime soon.

8K OLED

In a parallel launch, we saw Samsung reveal the equivalent 8K QLED with greater emphasis on light. This is a viable 8K TV slated to be available in the UK market this month.

BBC technology correspondent Rory CellanJones asked: “Is it just another gimmick to sell us more TVs, especially when only four years ago we were being told 4K was cutting edge?” Some may agree but, as marketers and retailers, our job is to sell the boundaries of possibilities to consumers and new products like these benefit the industry and rejuvenate categories.

Last month, ERT featured an interview with David Flintoft from Toshiba, who stated: “We want to be the best value option in the UHD space – we’re offering key technologies and good-quality, well-priced, mainstream products.”

Based on what Toshiba exhibited at IFA, Wall Art Concept 4KUHD included, it is in a very good place to dominate and steal market share, offering retailers more choice and flexibility. An opportunity to refresh your TV ranging with an established brand that is coming back stronger through each new product range.

In audio, the standout was the Yamaha MusicCast VINYL 500 – a superb innovation that enables you to stream your vinyl wirelessly to your speakers. Is this the future of turntables?

From audio to SDAs, where the most significant innovation came from Panasonic, which announced its Croustina ZP2000 bread-maker, promising the ability to bake an authentic, hardcrust loaf in your own home. For those who like bread makers, it’s a great reason to upgrade and a great gifting item for Christmas.

MDAs were also getting smarter, with almost all brands introducing smart appliances that either have compatibility or an ‘assistant’ built in.

Key brands and products to watch, that many independents will no doubt be ranging soon, include Beko, Hoover, Electrolux and Candy. These products enable you to ask ‘how to’, as demonstrated by Hoover Candy, which incidentally holds a 56 per cent market share in ‘connected’ washing. Users can set appliances to start at any given moment as commanded by the assistant.

Retro

Nice additions to IFA were retro brands Polaroid and Kodak. Polaroid showed off its Mint – a twoin-one instant digital camera and printer in a range of colours. It can quickly print high-quality photos with an option of modes to personalise your picture.

Kodak identified an area other printer manufacturers haven’t quite managed to acknowledge – we like to print photos that look like photos and are easy to print – with its Printomatic, Mini Shot Instant Print cameras and impressive Photo Printer Dock.

With growth in our local market and the innovations at IFA, many of which are available now, opportunities await those who get their ranging and consumer marketing mix correct.

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