Last week, brands, creatives and marketers gathered at CES 2018’s “C Space” to discuss how technology is influencing their work. Mintel was there for all the action, listening to the C Space speakers, perusing the exhibits and interacting with other marketers. Here, we’ve distilled several days of information into five key learnings for marketers that stood out during C Space 2018:

1. Data is heavily weighted in the art + science formula

The conversation around big data continued this year as marketers and content producers talked about the importance of using data collection and analysis to uncover the meaningful nuggets about their customers. Music curators discussed how data drives an unknown artist to become a superstar, or reveals the geographic areas where an artist should perform live. Multiple brands emphasized the importance of data in personalizing customer experiences. Some executives even lamented that advertisers are not adapting quickly enough to data-driven marketing methods, such as addressable advertising. But most still agreed that marketing isn’t 100% about the data. Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar said it best when he stated, “You cannot abdicate your judgement to data.”

2. Don’t underestimate the power of micro-influencers

Influencer marketing has become increasingly important for brands as they consider the most effective channels to reach the iGeneration (ages 10-22) and Millennials. Several panels discussed marketing partnerships, and influencers came up repeatedly. When choosing influencers with whom to work, brands of course looked for those who were reaching the same audiences they wanted to reach. But, importantly, they noted that they didn’t care so much about how big an influencer’s audience was, but how engaged they were.

3. Marketing is about assistance

Google Americas President Allan Thygesen led with the theme of brands as assistants when moderating a panel with marketing executives from Hyundai and Best Buy. The idea is simple: it’s a brand’s job to make it easy for the customer to get to what they want. The Mintel Trend 'Life Hacking' explains the importance of giving consumers tools to make their lives easier, which is really just another way of saying “assist them.” Data, of course, goes a long way in helping brands to better service customers.

4. Find the fans and super-serve them

“Fan” may have been the word I heard most at C Space. The idea of treating consumers as fans recurred often, particularly driven by executives in music, sports and entertainment. While some product categories are riper for superfans than others (and there was certainly some contention around the idea of treating customers as fans), the goal of fostering or encouraging enthusiastic customers is one that is widely shared because these are the customers who are active and engaged, rather than passive. These are the customers that will drive positive, word-of-mouth marketing for a brand, so wherever they exist, brands must identify them and create experiences that enable them to engage with the brand in new and different ways. Just as we outline in our Mintel Trend 'Experience is All,' consumers look to brands to facilitate unique, memorable experiences.

5. Trust leads to co-creation

Tying into the idea of fandom or brand advocacy is the idea of co-creation. It’s a topic that resurfaced frequently as marketers discussed the democratization of content, of putting content on social media, and of involving audiences in providing feedback or otherwise influencing content or experiences. Hulu CEO Randy Freer stated it well when discussing the incredible competition in video. He said, “The winners in this race will be companies who develop a trust with their consumers, so they can innovate together... If your brand has the trust of the consumer, you can really start to create great experiences for them.”
Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She provides omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to wireless, TV, internet, over-the-top and home security service providers across the US and Canada.