Every attendee at CES, the world’s largest gathering of innovation and connectivity, can be identified by a name tag hanging around his or her neck. At this year’s show, as I meandered through rows and rows of booths, I tried to mentally keep track of all of the interesting people I met. Exhibitors, media, industry analysts – everybody had a stimulating story, every company a fascinating take on consumer technology.

It was dizzying, though, to try and keep track of it all. Fortunately, I created a digital trail: CES badges were embedded with NFC (near field communication) chips, allowing organizers and exhibitors to scan them in order to know who stopped by and to later reach out to those people with relevant information.

In theory, one might be able to follow my path around the show floor and get an idea of what my preferences are from the types of tech I tended to gravitate toward.

So it goes with life. Nearly everything we do – including much of the action we take in the physical world – now leaves a trail of digital data. As explored in the Mintel Trend Data Creators, consumers have embraced the idea of being able to track and monitor their behavior, receive feedback, learn from their situations and respond. Many are seeking ways to not just see the data that represents their lives, but to use it to make their lives better. And CES proved there is no shortage of new ways for brands to do so.

Data for healthy living

Consumer interest in gathering data with the purpose of staying healthy is substantial. Mintel’s Managing Your Health US 2016 report found that half of US consumers would be interested in tracking their own health with a tracking device, such as Nike FuelBand or Fitbit. Beyond the capabilities of now-ubiquitous fitness trackers and smartwatches, cars will soon be able to gather personal health data and react accordingly, turning automobiles into the ultimate health devices. At CES, Mercedes-Benz discussed a clear vision of the near future where in-car sensors detect stress and adjust lighting, sounds and scents to help drivers relax.

In healthcare, WhiteClouds has partnered with hospitals across the US to provide doctors with accurate, 3D-printed body parts using the data from patients’ CT/MRI scans. Within three days, medical staff can explore a physical representation of a person’s tumor or other ailment in order to formulate an informed plan for surgery and care.

Consumer interest and concerns

We also see consumer desire for companies to provide benefits in exchange for our information: Mintel report, Motor Insurance UK 2016, found that more than a third of UK consumers would be interested in using telematics to let auto insurers offer discounts pending safe-driving data.

Tangible benefits like this will be crucial in combating concerns that many consumers have regarding privacy and security. Mintel’s Mobile Banking US 2016 report found that two in five consumers who have not downloaded or used a mobile banking app cite distrust in the security of mobile banking as the reason. There is potential for financial services brands to demonstrate the powerful benefits of convenience in order to quell those consumers’ fears and engage them in the mobile space, as benefits often win out over concerns.

Put it to good use

The potential afforded by our data-driven society for brands to grow relationships with consumers is not to be missed. According to advisory firm Shelly Palmer, there are two types of consumer data that marketers can (and should) make actionable via feedback, recommendations or relevant content:

  • Active engagement is when marketers create data by calling people to action.
  • Passive engagement uses data that is naturally created from consumers simply living their lives.

There were thousands of innovations launched at CES and millions more that already exist in the world. As our data-hungry society evolves, consumers will increasingly appreciate brands that help translate those innovations into curated content, healthier lifestyles, an enhanced professional life or one of endless other benefits.

For more learnings from CES 2017,  Emily Groch, Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications, shares her thoughts on Keeping it real with virtual reality and Data, AI and the evolution of customer service.

Stacy Bingle is a Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. Stacy joined Mintel in 2013 bringing with her an exciting blend of CPG, agency and marketing experience. Her time is spent traveling the US engaging clients across global CPG, Beauty and Financial Services in meaningful discussions around the consumer trends that will propel their businesses forward.

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