A view on CES 2024 from Dermot Connolly

Our Global Head of Business Development for Exertis Supply Chain Services, Dermot Connolly, recently returned from an insightful visit to CES 2024 in Las Vegas. Dermot brings unique perspectives from the supply chain realm, and we are excited to dive into his observations and experiences from the prestigious CES event!

How have attendee volumes at CES evolved from 2023 to 2024, and what factors contributed to the increase?

In the shift from 2023 to 2024, we saw a jump in CES attendees from 120,000 to a solid 135,000. They’re not quite back to the pre-COVID glory of 180,000, but an impressive turnout considering the rollercoaster the consumer electronics scene experienced last year and given the fact that most brands these days are keeping a close eye on their budgets.

Do you think that costs have had an impact on companies’ decisions to attend CES?

Undoubtedly, the escalating costs associated with CES have been a pivotal factor influencing companies’ participation decisions. This has been a consistent theme brought up by all attendees, and it’s not just limited to the cost of the attendance and booths; it seems that all costs from accommodation to food, drink and transport have risen sharply from previous years, which threaten to make the event prohibitively expensive for smaller or emerging businesses. It has also resulted in many brands moving away from the traditional booth at the LVCC to a suite at the Venetian, Mirage or Caesars Palace hotels, which proved a lower cost alternative.

What was the mood/ atmosphere like at CES this year? (What difficulties are forecast for 2024?)

The mood at CES this year was one of cautious optimism for the year ahead. After a slow 2023 across the board, the hope is for a bounce back in 2024. However, various factors threaten potential hurdles on the horizon, including the US and UK elections, the high cost of living, and ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. In addition, the chaos caused by the attack on shipping affecting the Suez Canal is still sending shockwaves through supply chains. So, while we’re hoping for the best, there’s definitely a mix of optimism and a watchful eye on potential challenges for 2024.

What challenges have you encountered this year and in previous years attending CES?

An ever-present challenge is that of transport, both this year and in previous years. The monorail is still the most efficient means of commuting between the strip and the LVCC, offering a reliable alternative. However, the extensive queues for taxis, buses, and Uber have led to a growing trend of attendees opting to walk from the Venetian Conference Centre to the LVCC, a 25-minute walk which ends up being about the same as the wait time for a taxi. This shift to walking has had a knock-on effect on scheduling, with participants becoming reluctant to commit to a fixed appointment time but rather go with the DHL model “we will be there today in the am or pm”!

What were the main product categories highlighted at CES 2024?

The main focus this year was on the following areas: Smart Home; Home entertainment; Home Security; Personal Health, Wellness and Relaxation; Energy-saving, Wireless Charging, and Sustainability. It is clear that since COVID and the move towards more home working, there has been a continued focus on improving the home environment, not just for working but for recovery and relaxation.  There were many brands showing massage and therapy chairs, but one of the most interesting products I saw this year was a “smart pillow” that records your head position when not snoring, senses when you are snoring and gently repositions your head via inflatable sections to the original position. It was clear to me from the range of products being developed that sleep and recovery are still a key sector.

Another growing range was that of home projectors to enhance the home cinema experience. As the majority of people now stream from personal devices, people are considering alternatives to the large flat TV screen, and we are seeing a move towards discreet projectors that give cinema quality at home.   There seems to be a consistent focus on home entertainment that has not declined post-COVID.

Were there any other trends that caught your eye at CES this year?

A growing trend I noticed is that of wireless charging products, otherwise known as induction charging, where your personal device just sits on a plate and charges.  This technology is nothing new as it has been around for a few years in the automotive sector but is now moving more into the home and especially the kitchen with all the various appliances located there.

AI is a current buzzword, was there much evidence of this at CES?

To a certain degree. Walmart gave a keynote address where AI will be used for reorder/replenishment to reduce waste, primarily product waste, and there was also a nice range of earbuds which use AI for global language translations.

Were you happy with the number of opportunities you were presented with at CES this year?

I had around 40 meetings over the course of the event, many of which were held with exciting new brands with a lot of potential in the industry, so as always there are a lot of follow-up calls to be made to explore how Exertis Supply Chain can best support these growing brands needs in the USA and beyond. I will be keeping an eye on emerging tech trends and innovations and how they are shaping the industry landscape.

Interviewer: Charlotte Sweet

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