Tag Archives: Todaro

The best place for the home to get smart is on the high street

It’s no surprise that the Smart Home dominated last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a whole range of evolution and innovation across security, home appliances and energy management. The trend has no doubt been expedited by the huge success of intelligent assistants with Google announcing that their Home devices sold over 6 million units, that’s one every second, and now Google Assistant runs on over 400 third party devices globally.

Many brands, such as Samsung, have opted to support their brands by integrating their own technology. Its lesser-known Bixby Assistant was integrated into its Smart Fridge with AKG speakers, making it a multimedia centre for the kitchen. Kholer showcased its intelligent bathroom ‘Konnect tech’ enabling your shower, bathtub, toilet, mirror and tap to be connected, both to you and each other. The company’s Touchless Response technology provides hands-free toilet flushing, perfect for those germophobes.

The market is evolving and in 2018 it will start to get a lot more crowded as the category grows from Amazon and Google offering their own speakers in a variety of form factors but also Google, Alexa and Siriin other hardware brands like Sonos. Sonos have already released the Sonos One with Alexa, and they have hopes to integrate Siri and Google Assistant soon. Apple’s HomePod will hit homes but Siri offers some weak competition as it struggles to develop its voice recognition. Yamaha, Libratone, and DTS all announced Alexa driven smart speakers this year, with SonyPhilips and LG announcing Google Assistant integration into their smart products.

And here lies the problem. Confused already? Indeed. Understand what’s compatible with what system? Probably not. Do you know if your Ring Video Doorbell can be hooked up to your Google Home, so you can speak to any visitors without having your smart phone to hand? If you’re reading this, you probably work in marketing and are classed an early adopter. Imagine what it’s like for everyone else seeing and hearing about these products everywhere they go and no idea what to do and how to integrate them.

Smart Home retail value is expected to reach £5.11bn worldwide this year and according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while online sales continue to rise, e-commerce as a percentage of total retail sales in December 2017 was still only 18%. We also know that a Smart Home device in many instances requires an assisted sale. It’s a considered purchase and for some, a rather complicated buying process with further concerns about installation and integration with existing technology.

This is a great opportunity for traditional retailers to excel and showcase why they are still the best channel for selling ‘technology’ products using the retail environment to educate, engage and sell to the consumer through driving excitement and experience directly with the brand.

Our own research shows that even among today’s tech savvy 18 to 24-year-olds, more than 40% prefer to head in-store to see, touch and experience a product before buying, rising to 58% for the over 55s. Most surprising is that 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds want a personal service and recommendation from in-store staff, the highest among of all the age categories.

When we asked what advertising has influenced a considered purchase, none of the mainstream advertising channels were cited as influential: just 7.5% for TV, 8.7% for website, 4.6% for social media, 3% for billboard and 2% for newspaper and print. Advertising in-situ within the retail environment however was rated the key influencing factor at 19%.

This is a clear signal that traditional retailers should spend time and money working with staff on the shop floor and make the consumer experience as good as it can be as it will pay for itself through category development and increased sales at a higher average sales price – a win win for both retailer and brand.

Click here to read the article on The Drum

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

THE CASE FOR SMART TECH

Smart tech was everywhere at CES with the latest OLED TVs, an 8K debut from LG and a suitcase that follows its owner around, Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro looks at the latest innovations from the show

CES in Vegas is where the globe’s technology brands for the past 51 years have converged to brag, showcasing what they are doing in advancing technology.

This year, an estimated 3,900 exhibitors from 150 nations will have done so to over 180,000 forecast visitors and a global media audience. An impromptu power cut only added to its media appeal, gaining it more mainstream coverage than ever before.

No surprise was that the smart home dominated, with Google announcing that its Assistant had sold more than six million units – that’s one every second – and also now runs on 400m devices globally. Unfortunately, there are no statistics from Amazon, but with more than 1,500 smart-home devices from more than 225 brands, all supporting Google Assistant, the winner may have been identified.

A lot of third-party brands are choosing to support multiple AI platforms, not wanting to gamble on a specific one. As a result, there are many now supporting multiple AI platforms in particular Alexa and Google Assistant integration, which dominated CES.

Not Samsung, though, whose Bixby assistant was integrated into a smart fridge with AKG speakers, making it a multimedia centre for your kitchen. Its only real game-changing feature is the ability to create smart notes sent remotely by users via text message to inform those in the home of messages like ‘buy more toilet rolls’.

What these innovations offer brands and retailers are alternative methods to engage passively with users, introducing new, intuitive technology into the home. Ordering shampoo or switching to another ‘recommended’ brand, while in the shower, further enables new advertising opportunities and gives retailers different purchasing channels perhaps never before considered.

LG OLED
LG OLED

Despite changing viewing habits influenced by ‘streaming’, TV remained a headline-grabber at CES. In particular for LG, whose dominance in the category is propelling the brand into pole position.

Firstly, it introduced us to the rather neat 65in LG roll-up TV – a 4K panel that curls up like a blind and unfolds into a 65in panel. Quite how the OLED screen is able to completely roll away, while still remaining rigid, is a secret that LG isn’t willing to share.

The display doesn’t have to be completely retracted. You can lower it only part-way, allowing you to change its aspect ratio from 16:9 to the cinematic 21:9, meaning you can enjoy your ultra-wide movies without those black bars.

With another press of the remote, the panel retracts to a wide strip at the top that can be used to show smart-home information, music controls, or whatever other updates you want to see. As it’s still a prototype, don’t expect availability or pricing any time soon.

OLED, launched at CES 10 years ago, is now the lead form factor in TV, and with an estimated 2.35m units predicted in 2018, up 1.4m on 2017. It’s now 25 per cent of the premium [over £1,000] TV market. Other notable brands launching new OLED ranges were Sony and Panasonic.

LG, not content with one a show-stopper, also launched its 88in 8K OLED screen, offering 33m pixels and it may be here sooner than you think. While the feature film Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was shot in 8K, there is virtually no 8K content available. There are plans to roll out full 8K services by 2018, with Japan once again leading the way. The plan is to air the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 8K through broadcaster NHK, so TVs may well begin to go on sale in time for the 2020 summer Olympics.

Among all the connected home fever at CES were two of my favourite innovations. The first was the ForwardX CX-1 smart suitcase, which knows its owner using face-recognition to follow you through the airport concourse. It also comes with a smart wristband, just in case it loses you.

The second was the L’Oréal UV Sense. I think it’s perhaps the biggest game-changer and possibly the one that will become mainstream sooner. It’s a battery-free adhesive disc that measures UV exposure for the wearer. It’s relatively unobtrusive and uses NFC to let you retrieve your data with your mobile device. Its applications are infinite.

L’Oreal’s presence at CES demonstrates how technology can become mainstream through the most passive of devices and categories, creating a challenge for all marketers and retailers.

 

To read the article at ERT click here

Tagged , , , ,

The top 5 wearable technology gadgets in 2014

Image

Wearable tech is already one of this year’s hottest trends. Are you dressed to thrill?

If the headlines dominated by the latest and greatest smart watches and activity trackers following last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas are anything to go by, 2014 is set to be the year of wearable tech. Wearable technology is changing the way we communicate, exercise, socialise; and in many ways is enhancing the way our society operates. From fitness-tracking bracelets to smart ski goggles, Daniel Todaro, MD at field marketing agency Gekko, writes for us about the five wearable tech gadgets of this year that you would be happy to wear and use…

1.Fitbit Force

Image

Fitbit Force, the latest standout offering from Fitbit, is a hyper designed and developed wearable fitness tracker. The subtle wristband displays daily stats, steps taken, calories burned, distance travelled as well as allowing the users to easily log food intake, sleep patterns, and even health information like glucose levels and blood pressure. The device can also easily be synced with a smartphone app or through a wireless dongle for PCs.

Expected to go on sale in the UK in the spring, we can expect the Fitbit Force to fly off the shelves.

2.Pebble Watch & Steel
Image
Launched towards the end of last year in the UK, the Pebble has gained a large following in a relatively short space of time.

This waterproof smartwatch is designed to display messages from an iOS or Android smartphone and can send users notifications when they receive an email. Simple and stylish, the Pebble can be purchased in red, orange, black or grey, and comes with a removable 22mm watch strap. Alternatively the Steel is a great-looking wristwatch with top-end construction.

With an impressively long battery life and easy-to-use buttons, I suspect both Pebble variants will be huge in 2014.

3.iWallet
Image
Perhaps one for the most security conscious out there, iWallet is a revolutionary biometric locking wallet that protects personal information, cash and cards using the latest cutting edge technology.

What’s the standout feature? If the user’s iWallet and smartphone are more than 10 -15 feet apart, the phone will sound. Pickpockets beware.

4.Epson Moverio BT-100 smart glasses
Image
Another potential game-changer on the market, with transparent lenses and Wi-Fi connectivity, these smart glasses allow you to update your social network accounts, catch up on the latest news and watch videos online while still being able to see your surroundings. With the Android™ 2.2 platform and a 4GB SD memory card, you can choose from a whole host of viewing options, such as MPEG 4 and H.264 videos, to watch content wherever you want.

The smart glasses offer a big-screen experience equivalent to a 320-inch display viewed from 20 metres away. The ‘control-at-your-fingertips’ touch-sensitive track pad means you can effortlessly navigate between menus and find exactly what you’re looking for.

This is the perfect hands-free alternative to small smartphone and tablet PC screens.

5. Oakley Airwave Ski Goggles
Image
These ski goggles allow gadget-obsessed skiers and competitive adrenaline junkies to stay connected on the slopes. Sitting at the bottom of the left goggle lens, the technology senses and shows a range of speed and distance metric notifications, including buddy tracking, navigation, music and iOS/Android smartphone synching so you can view incoming calls and text messages with low energy Bluetooth connectivity.

Packaged with everything you expect from Oakley, the goggles include anti-fog technology, dual-vented lens designed to keep vision clear, 100 percent UV filters and Iridium lens coatings to to balance light transmission.

Daniel Todaro, MD at field marketing agency Gekko

Read the full article at http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/tech/the-top-10-wearable-technology-gadgets-in-2014/7519.article

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Europe’s Warm Embrace to Advertising

Image

I understand the importance of a uniform approach for global brands, ensuring the same message, feel and equity is experienced by consumers whether they’re in Bangkok, Bombay or New York. However, on a recent trip to the style capital of Europe Milan, I experienced a global brand that successfully tapped into a region where style and brand are paramount.

As marketers we must not only make our brands inspirational but also accessible to all and in Milan, Samsung has tapped into a demographic you may have never thought possible through some particularly clever use of technology.

The Ambrosiana Gallery in Milan’s Duomo district was once the studio of Michelangelo and displays not only the works of the great man, but precious artwork in a remarkably beautiful and ancient setting. Samsung however, has cleverly added a unique modern twist through the use of technology, integrating smart phone functionality as a means of interpreting the art. Next to each piece is a magnetic/electronic chip that gives visitors more information when they place their smartphones over it.

In this instance it’s about the art that you’re viewing but – to Samsung – it’s about you engaging with the brand and experiencing the technology as a portal bestowing you entrance. For some it’s a revelation and I’m guessing that for many of the visitors who make a point of using the feature, it is just that.

What better way for a brand to show that it understands the consumer than by placing a campaign in a venue that is synonymous with the city’s characteristics and fits the perception of Milan. Samsung not only takes into account the consumer demographics within the city, but also uses a variety of publicly-available information to create a picture of how well-suited the city is to the brand. Beyond Samsung this model is adaptable for virtually any type of product. For a fashion label, I am sure a place like the Ambrosiana Gallery would make a beautiful home for greeting fashion-conscious consumers. A depiction of understanding for the cultural life of cities makes all the difference when analysing whether a brand’s campaign is relevant or not.

You only have to read the stats to know that Italy is a place of adland freedom, with a huge Samsung advert adorning the side of the city’s iconic Duomo Cathedral as it undergoes renovations. Could you imagine Samsung creating something like this in the UK, a Christmas installation in St. Paul’s Cathedral? In the UK, our heritage buildings are fiercely protected and they would certainly lock their doors to a brand’s knock. In Italy however, advertising can be found on buses, trams, buildings in glorious Technicolor lights, allowing brands to speak to their target audiences, even when they least expect it. Rules, whether right or wrong, are abandoned. Brands have a luxury of freedom that they don’t have in other countries.

Italians are I suppose, used to a heavier level of brand messaging. Just look at the production values of national TV (in particular any transmitted by a Berlusconi company). The advertising is plentiful and sometimes even better than the programme being watched! With this in mind, are Italians (or European’s in general) more accepting of consumer electronic brand advertising as they know what they want and their maximum price point for quality products or specific brands?

Subsequently I believe this has resulted in a market where brands are not commoditised and able to sell at a price point that enables a margin and sustainable, profitable growth as opposed to crowded categories with brands trading at a loss and eventually abandoning the category altogether.

Could this be why so many UK retailers have unsuccessfully succeeded in Europe and beyond?

Image credit: Leonard Ambrosiana 

Read the full article at http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2013/11/25/europes-warm-embrace-advertising/

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Has Product Placement Gone Too Far?

Image

Product placement within film and TV is hardly breaking news. Since the dawn of broadcast media, brands have been eager to muscle in on our attentions and put their logos in front of us. We now expect to see James Bond with his Omega watch, driving his Aston Martin and flashing his latest smartphone. But I have to ask, are brands now taking product placement to a whole new patronising level?
 
Recently, we took the kids on a cinema trip to see The Smurfs 2 (not my choice, I hasten to add!). I can’t say I was expecting an Oscar-worthy, two-hour emotional tour-de-force of filmmaking, but I was astounded by the degree of product placement within the film. Prior to the screening, I wasn’t aware that it was a Sony Pictures production, but by the end I was wondering if the script was actually based around Sony products!
 
From the newscaster presenting in front of a Sony LED TV to every single adult cast member using a Sony Mobile (of course, demonstrating its full range of services), I actually think it’s difficult to argue that the brands didn’t tailor the script to meet their product placement needs. The villain Gargamel even used a Sony Vaio tablet to cook up his dastardly plans. Twice!
 
As it transpires, Sony Pictures secured deals worth $150 million from over 100 corporate partners to promote a raft of products within the film, far exceeding the production budget of $110 million. To my kids, and I’m sure every other child in that theatre, this likely didn’t register. But for us more brand-aware adults, it was so blatant that I have no doubt I missed several more Sony products woven into the script.
 
Are brands beginning to push their luck a bit too far? Investment in the film and TV industry is crucial, but, in exchange for a sizable cash injection, brands are naturally going to push for as much of the limelight as possible, with scant regard for the script. The larger the investment, the larger the degree of control exerted.
 
The trend was highlighted in typically overstated-fashion by Morgan Spurlock last year with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – a documentary on product placement with a $1.5 million budget entirely funded by… product placement. As brands become an even more ever-present constant in every facet of our lives, the natural progression is that the volume will further increase and the stakes raised even higher.
 
The connotations for the film and TV industry are slightly worrying, particularly at a time where the industry – I believe – is enjoying the rudest of health in recent years through some remarkable films, TV content and documentaries. I wonder if, as brands seek greater screen-time, we are going to see a day in the not-too-distant future when an actor will refuse to endorse a brand in a movie? Or will the lure of money continue to trump all as more and more blockbuster movies appear as little more than very long adverts with a storyline bolted on?
 
To some extent, audiences do want to see product placement within films; for example, to see a character entering Starbucks as opposed to a trademark-friendly, fictional alternative adds a degree of realism to proceedings. However, there is a fine line that needs to be observed or else the brand risks sticking out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, since James Bond swapped his Martini for a Heineken, Will Smith dwelt a bit too long on a pair of Converse in I, Robot and Superman reboot Man of Steel hedged it’s box-office failure by securing over 100 global brand partners to the tune of $160 million, the act of product placement has been increasingly taking the spotlight away from the actual stories themselves.
 
I like to think I can appreciate both great branding and great filmmaking, but how closely should we be allowing these two disciplines to merge? With cinema visits in decline and gimmicky features such as 3D failing to take off, the money has to come from somewhere after all. But is it in the brands’ best interests to push their own agendas at the expense of great filmmaking? Is it in their best interests to appear cheesy, naff and downright uncool, thereby damaging their valuable brand equity?
 
You would think not, but, still, I can’t help but feel that it’s up to us – the audience – to make that stand.

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2013/11/05/has-product-placement-gone-too-far/

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,