You didn’t have to be at CES this month to learn about 2021 consumer electronics trends.
The annual CES event is a launchpad for new technologies and innovations, and this year was no different with one profound difference. The massive show, held in Las Vegas, was virtual. The 170,000 attendees that attended last January’s show stayed home. In its place, participants streamed keynotes and watched virtual demos. Media outlets covered the news and pundits shared their reviews. How audiences took a radical change like this in stride may, in fact, be the biggest technology news of all.
Home is where you live, work, learn and play
The pandemic has completely reset a culture that until recently was defined by living life on the go. Americans’ work, shopping, and recreation moved indoors (and continues to stay there). Google’s mobility data illustrates the new reality: retail/recreation and workplace traffic continue to decline, while traffic to residential (at home) points rises with the latest outbreaks.
Entertainment at home
For streaming entertainment and gaming, the shift to in-home entertainment resulted in spectacular growth. The Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch saw audiences more than double, while players of online games like Call of Duty: Warzone tripled between March and August in 2020, according to Statista. According to Variety, Americans’ use of OTT streaming media doubled during the pandemic – with viewers watching 27 billion minutes of streaming content on April 4th. Cinema lovers also made the switch from the big screen to VOD. Disney brought Mulan to Disney+ and Warner Bros’ premiere of Wonder Woman 1984 on its HBO Max platform saw half of its subscriber base watch the movie on Christmas day, Screenrant reported.
Keeping the momentum
While 2020 has had a silver lining for many technology and entertainment brands, their need to sustain growth in 2021 will be acute. Analysts estimate that total tech spending will be close to a half-trillion dollars in the US this year, and total spending on streaming services and software is projected to reach a record $112 billion — an 11% growth over 2020.
We all know that keeping up with this high growth trajectory will become a fiercely competitive battle for tech and entertainment brands. The growth of streaming brands like Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, Pluto, Hulu, and Viacom’s new Paramount (formerly CBS All Access) has created a full-scale war for audiences and subscription dollars. According to the WSJ, the explosion of competitive services took a significant bite out of Netflix subscriber growth in Q3 of 2020.
Cannabis consumption grows during the pandemic
It’s no surprise that the growth of digital entertainment during the pandemic is mirrored by cannabis consumption. Amid the lockdown and stress of the crisis, MRI Simmons research revealed that more than 27 million people reported they started consuming cannabis or CBD, in turn creating opportunities not just for the cannabis companies that showcased their first-of-its-kind smart dosing and biometric-enabled storage devices at CES this year but also for tech, media, entertainment and gaming brands too.
Fyllo audiences for tech, media, and gaming brands
MRI Simmons's research also shows that cannabis is the bullseye for tech, media, and gaming brands looking to win high-value audiences – a trifecta of mobile-first, premium subscribers, and heavy streamers. They’re avid multi-screen media users, watching, listening, and playing across their mobiles, tablets, connected TVs, and computers. More than two out of three think of their mobile phone as a source of entertainment (112 index) and say they’re always checking the app store to see what’s new (141).
Paying for content. Stay-at-home orders have helped drive a boom for subscription-driven media and OTT platforms. By the end of 2020, 70% of cannabis consumers pay for multiple subscriptions to premium streaming services and game networks (118 index). If the media offers the right content, and they will pay for it – whether it’s HBO (116), pay-per-view movies (142), sports (132), or a game network like Xbox (154) or Playstation (155).
Early adopters for tech and mobile. They’re quick to adopt new premium services like Disney + (130 index) and Apple TV Plus (126) and are also embracing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo (125) or plan to purchase one in the next twelve months (127). In addition to their ubiquitous smartphones, they connect with tablets and e-readers like the Microsoft Surface (150), Apple Ipad (110), Galaxy Tab/Note (106), and Kindle (96).
Opening night movie fans. They say the opening weekend is the time to see the latest movie (139 index). They’re movie lovers and index high for nearly every genre. For brands moving their big releases to streaming services, cannabis consumers will help guarantee a great opening weekend.
Heavy gamers. They’re heavy gamers with 20+ hours over the last seven days (157 index). They prefer the latest consoles – and are ready to upgrade to the latest systems. Their favorite game genres are Shooters (157), Role-playing (155), Sports (151), Simulation (149), and Action/Adventure (146). They’re watching and streaming on Twitch (143). Overall, cannabis consumers account for almost one of three subscribers of Xbox Live, Playstation Network, and the Nintendo networks. While they rank high for consoles, they’re also downloading games to their smartphones (129)
Streaming music and audio. They’re subscribing to both music and podcasts. They’re personalizing their soundtracks with subscriptions to Google Play (148 index), Spotify (141), Apple (121), and Pandora (118). Cannabis consumers helped drive overall Podcast listening rise by 150% during 2020 (Edison Research). Today, one in three listen to podcasts (128) and are heavy listeners–streaming 10+ episodes in the last week (140). They’re also listening to books via their Audible subscription (144).
Retail sales revenue for the technology industry is expected to reach $461 billion in the U.S. in 2021. To learn more about why mainstream marketing leaders across everyday categories are racing to reach cannabis consumers, download the whitepaper — Why Cannabis Audiences Are The New Gateway To Growth For Big Brands.