BREW|SDC's CES Keynote Speech That Wasn't: Categories of Consumer Electronics Cultural Convergence: CE Product, CE Brand, CE Retail

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--Lifestyle & Behavioral Based Strategic Design Company, BREW|SDC, Defines Three Prominent Categories of Cultural and Technology Convergence at CES 2007-- -- Had BREW|SDC been tapped to deliver the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show keynote speech, the number-one consumer electronics (CE) talking point would be the convergence of culture and technology. More than ever, design of consumer electronics reflects a broadening picture of our collective cultural identity. The 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Las Vegas, will undeniably bear witness to this occurrence--and to help contextualize the value of CES this year, BREW|SDC offers three categories of cultural and technology convergence to watch.

The three Consumer Electronic Cultural Categories are based upon Product, Brand and Retail. All are generally administered by corporate, agency and brand executives, but ultimately governed by consumers -- through their proxies: shopper insights, marketing and research companies. So what do consumers want? Overwhelmingly it's about providing them more human, more intuitive CE solutions that are elegantly harmonized to their lives, the Internet and accessible to dynamic on-demand content.

Product Convergence: "Much like a tournament chart at a grand slam tennis event, the vast array of consumer products is progressively narrowing as features and functions aggregate into fewer franchise products," said BREW|SDC Partner, Ben C. Roth. "The ace serve is a product's ability to penetrate and enhance consumer lifestyle." Convergence of product attributes, as prescribed by people's lifestyles, can manifest as sexy product design like the iPod nano or Nokia 8800 mobile phone, both alacritous online and on-the-go. Sometimes the convergence of functions results in less elegant design such as LG and Verizon's new and awkwardly idealistic enV ("envy") clamshell device: a next generation phone, 2.0 megapixel camera, and multimedia tool in one.

Either way, the crux of success balances upon companies' legitimate understanding of the real cultural utility each device holds--and the ability of designers to hone-down, soup-up and harmonize each product relative to human use and 24/7 access to content. At CES, expect merchandise assortment and displays to emulate and promote such lifestyle and design-related conditions.

Brand Convergence: In Bill Gates' 2006 CES keynote address, he defined the current CE era as the decade of Digital Lifestyles or Digital Workstyles, driven by the "mainstreaming of technology." His vision for Microsoft's brand was clearly culturally driven. Ultimately his view is that Microsoft will be the brand that sits at the center of our lives - connecting all of our daily demands to integrated digital solutions. As such, Gate's software-centric view of the world will likely impact us all as Microsoft wholly focuses itself on marrying our lives to ongoing technological innovation. And even if only an ungainly imitation of Apple's iLife, the remodeling of the Microsoft brand broadcasts a clear and looming message of cultural significance.

Also, expect perennial Red Dot Award winner and CE giant, Samsung, to continue to differentiate its brand through breakthrough lifestyle designs - showcasing more creative product names connected to compelling design narratives. Watch for CE brands to offer physical and content experiences at CES according to their selected culture and lifestyle categories.

Retail Convergence: "Probably the most interesting category of convergence is retail. Its rapid shifting and remodeling belies the impact culturally successful products and brands are having upon store experience design," continued Roth. "In this category, Wal-Mart and Apple are models--respectively by scale and demand--and are setting new standards for retail and exhibition design by connecting products directly with early, middle and late adopters."

As the reigning purveyor of digital lifestyle solutions, Apple, whose Apple Store experience evolved out of its exhibition design, has redefined how consumer electronics are shopped. Its attention to design, the Genius Bar, Studio and daily workshops have legitimized retail as an experiential endeavor.

As the reigning retailer of the world, Wal-Mart is poised to standardize the CE shopping experience in a bigger, more homogenous way - buzzing beyond Best Buy as the choice CE shopping destination for all but early technology adopters. These conditions are forcing companies to think through their total brand and product presence in everyday occasions.

Look for CES exhibitors to move away from traditional B2B messaging and, instead, address end-users by offering interactive zones, targeted lifestyle engagements, as well as the kinds of retail-friendly packaged solutions you would expect to find shelved under a big yellow smiley face (including Bluetooth, portable storage solutions, and customizable accessories). Also, listen for messaging that foretells of product and retail partnerships in the New Year.

For more perspective on cultural convergence within consumer electronics: BREW|SDC will be publishing a Trend Analysis of CES 2007, focusing on broad exhibition trends in areas such as multi-sensory, lifestyle products and experience planning. Access the report after CES 2007 on the BREW|SDC site,

For additional information on the BREW/SDC Innovative Design Approach, visit


BREW|SDC is a strategic design firm headquartered in New York City. A collective of creative, architectural and analytical disciplines, BREW|SDC uses proprietary methodologies to convert qualitative lifestyle insights into strategic design solutions. Offering a uniquely cinematic approach to uncovering and building cultural brand encounters, BREW|SDC leverages mechanisms of everyday life to capture minds, stimulate desired behaviors and influence purchase intent.


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