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Sam Langley-Swain, Strategy Director

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Most analysts refer to Moore’s Law for technological growth but futurologist Kurzweil suggests that we will experience 20000 years of progression in the 21st Century.Brands and retailers are working hard to keep up with this change and responding to consumer trends and tastes.

From greater competition to new materials and changing consumer tastes, we look at why consumer electronics brands can’t stand still.

Competition Through Design

Consumers are growing ever-demanding and the technology brands that lead they way are making their products lighter thinner more durable smarter and more compact to stand out from their competitors. Successful brands should stand for superior product quality durability and reliability to differentiate.

Hunger for Newism

The insatiable desire for new. Consumers are demanding newer and better products. Newism is forming creative destruction hyper-competition globalism consumerism and a celebration of innovation all in one. Consumers feel a sense of individuality and excitement when experiencing something unusual and unseen by others.

The propensity for technology adoption ranges from ‘innovators’ (who buy new technology as soon as it is available) to ‘laggards’ (who typically purchase new technology only after traditional alternatives are no longer available). The Millennial generation wants to be ahead of the game in all things technology. Brands that can deliver that feeling of ‘elitism’ to consumers will succeed in knowing their customer has the latest and greatest product.

Design Features

Keeping on trend is important for brands to maintain consumer desire interest and purchase. For brands to satisfy the hunger for new while standing out from their competitors we look at how they can differentiate their offering.

1) Materials & Finish

Re-inventing the material or outer shell of a product can re-invigorate choice even if the consumer prefers traditional models. Brushed aluminium remains popular. However, matte brass copper and rose gold are emerging as the new metallics of choice. These tones appear warmer than aluminium, particularly on personal devices. Bright highlights of colour add vibrancy to product surfaces and features.

2) Small & Strong

With the growth of wearable products for on-the-go activities products are becoming more durable and compact to cope with the pressures they face. In the past, these features tended to make products bulky and unappealing. With advances in technology, they are more durable and compact appealing to a wider audience than before.

Toshiba active camera

3) Seamless & Elegant

Ultra-thin compact streamlined and wireless functionality – products are becoming aesthetically pleasing and elegant.

Danish audio brand Vifa launched two new wireless speakers during Stockholm Design Week adding a portable design and a larger loudspeaker to its range. Both models follow in the sophisticated styling of the Copenhagen speaker. The compact model Helsinki has a neat and compact shape with rounded corners that add a retro feel to the design. The solid aluminium frame creates a seamless construction while the leather carry handle adds a tactile and luxurious feel.

Vifa seamless and elegant technology

4) Customisation

Customisation is key. Growing numbers of consumers are looking to align products with their personal tastes. For example, the Alberto radio by US electronics firm Tivoli Audio features interchangeable cases made with stained wood Corian and printed fabrics. Brands are also collaborating with fashion designers to create unique and limited edition items.

Tivolio audio

5) Functionality & Flexibility

Consumers are looking for more advanced solutions that fit their bespoke set of needs with enhanced functionality beyond the basic. Folding speakers from German studio Design Affairs and emerging designer Jang Se-Chan have designed a clever origami structure that makes them completely transportable without compromising sound quality. Adaptable hybrid structures help to enhance a product’s flexibility. Taking advantage of material properties, clever solutions are emerging for existing archetypes.

folding speakers

Summary

Consumer electronics brands and retailers are at the cutting edge of developments and this isn’t going to slow down in the coming years. With the rate of change growing so fast, brands must remember that the consumer is the heart of everything and products must reflect their wants and needs.

In our next post, we look at how consumer electronic brands are adapting their retail environments and route to market.