CES Wrap-Up: Q&A with PepsiCo's Brad Jakeman

Brad shoot

We asked Brad Jakeman, President, Global Beverages Group, PepsiCo, who serves on our Board of Directors and was on the ground at CES in Las Vegas, to share his insight on the biggest trends and takeaways from the 2014 show.

AD Club of NY: Wearable technology is taking CES by storm. From Sony SmartBand to smart jewelry by Netatmo to Wellograph and Runphones, it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but will consumers buy them and what can marketers do to make these successful?

Brad Jakeman: Wearables have become commoditized at this CES, mainly due to the low cost of sensors, tracking technology and other associated components.  Health trackers, smart watches and other wearables are all competing for very personal space on someone’s body, often times without an attractive aesthetic presence.  While some have tried to borrow a page from fashion to create design-conscious accessories, the consumer use-case for these products leaves something to be desired. This is not an “if you build it, they will come” category, at least not for the masses. Many of these products feel like the answer to a question that nobody has actually asked.

Successful, established players like the FuelBand from Nike realize the need to seamlessly and simply integrate into a consumer’s lifestyle, while creating communities that leveraged an established base.  Brands like Nike and relative newcomer Fitbit have elegantly demonstrated the integration of smartly designed hardware, intuitive (lifestyle-friendly) software and social/community participation. The resulting user experience is compelling enough to become part of their routine and remains true to the brand’s values. Smart hardware alone will not win over the hearts of consumers, it will take this level of experience-driven integration to earn wearable presence and move beyond a trending novelty.

ACNY: Beyond wearables, what other tech trends are you most excited about? Which ones have the most lasting power?

BJ: While not a mainstream consumer category just yet, 3-D printing is a wildly exciting new frontier. The combination of commercially available digitizers/replicators at more affordable price points, opens up a world of possibilities for creative expression. The ChefJet from 3-D Systems was a fantastic example of 3D printing technology entering the culinary world. The ability to print beautiful, edible objects might have felt like science fiction just a few short years ago. At this year’s CES, it was a delicious proof point of how quickly the technology has grown and the seemingly endless applications 3D printing will have in the future.

ACNY: What was the most surprising thing you learned or experienced?

BJ: The growth of startup presence at CES and the ambitious vision behind their innovations make Eureka park a very exciting place to be at CES. These startups are pushing the innovation envelope and have thoughtfully crafted solutions that put consumer needs first.  The fact that many exhibitors in this space have developed technologies and products that rival the largest manufacturers is a testament to the startup community and a harbinger of an even bigger Eureka park at next year’s show.

ACNY: Who were the most engaging speakers?

BJ: Sony’s Kaz Harai. Beyond wow-worthy technology (the incredible 4K Life space projector) and content demos (Playstation Now, Cloud-based TV), Harai passionately shared a vision for Sony that inspired confidence in the brands commitment to create a moving consumer experience through every Sony product and service.

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer put on a well-choreographed show for all. The balance of forward-thinking content/media strategy, polished demonstrations that brought products to life and relevant celebrity cameos (including Katie Couric, David Pogue and SNL cast members), made for a consistently engaging keynote that reinforced the upward trajectory Yahoo has realized under Mayer’s guidance.