- Procter & Gamble is returning to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for 2020 after making its debut as an exhibitor at the Las Vegas conference last year, according to a press release. The marketer has brought back its LifeLab concept focused on digital technology's intersection with consumer goods, which this year features showcases for brands like Oral-B, Pampers, Charmin and Gillette.
- Mobile tech is at the center of these activations, including through an Oral-B iO app that leverages data and artificial intelligence to guide brushing and dental care habits. Lumi by Pampers, a connected baby care system, is also demoing its app and smart HD video monitoring tools that track newborns' sleep, feeding and diapering habits, which were developed with Alphabet's Verily life sciences research division. Lumi by Pampers and Verily first partnered in July.
- P&G is additionally poking fun at some of the far-fetched tech CES has become infamous for with Charmin's GoLab, which demos three conceptual bathroom products: The RollBot, a "bearmorphous" two-wheeled device that delivers toilet paper based on Bluetooth-connected smartphone commands; the SmellSense, an electronic sensor that monitors smells to ensure bathrooms aren’t too odorous before entering; and V.I.Pee, a porta-potty equipped with Oculus Rift S VR gear to provide virtual distractions while users are sitting on the toilet.
P&G heading back to CES for the second consecutive year affirms that the annual Las Vegas conference, which attracts around 200,000 attendees and a slew of global exhibitors, continues to grow in importance for consumer brands, including those not typically associated with the tech sector.
For 2020's LifeLab blitz, the Cincinnati-based CPG giant is leaning heavily into the potential of mobile to inform customer's habits with everything from toothbrushes to diapers, which indicates how P&G is thinking about reinvigorating brands both new and old for a more connected future. P&G is dipping back into some concepts from last year, such as GilletteLab's heated razor that seeks to recreate the feeling of hot towel shave, but also promoting newer developments like Lumi by Pampers.
"We strive to make life easier and more enjoyable with the superior products and services our brands offer," Chairman and CEO David Taylor said in a statement. "CES gives us the chance to show how we are constructively disrupting our business to deliver irresistibly superior experiences that reinvent what people expect of everyday products."
CES has become a broad showcase for what's on the bleeding edge of digital and mobile tech, and while many of the trends on display at the expansive confab don't pan out in terms of widespread consumer adoption, the potential to tap into the next big thing has lead the conference to, in some cases, usurp the importance of more purely advertising-focused gatherings like Cannes Lions and Advertising Week. In fact, during P&G's debut as a CES exhibitor in 2019, company executives forecast the death of advertising in a traditional sense, with personalization technology like Internet of Things and artificial intelligence stepping in to fill modern consumer needs.
"When you have these types of technologies embedded in products, it actually makes them more central to the brand building experience," Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said during a talk at CES last year. "I think it could eventually replace advertising as we know it."
Even as companies like P&G are treating CES more seriously — other legacy marketers, like Neutrogena and L'Oréal, have become frequent attendees — there seems to be some acknowledgement that tech innovations can look ridiculous, such as through Charmin's "cheeky" take on reimagining the bathroom experience.
Beyond helping to give legacy brands a fresh coat of paint, CES also lets organizations like P&G glean insights from disruptive startup culture and seek out new partnerships. P&G Ventures, an early stage startup studio, runs events like a competition for new businesses around the show. In recent years, P&G has become more active in acquiring upstarts and direct-to-consumer brands, including the feminine care marketer This Is L. and Walker & Company, a grooming and hair care line targeted at consumers of color, to stay competitive.