P&G brings FMCG utopia to CES

The first tech show of the year has traditionally featured companies outside of its core constituency and CES 2019 is no exception.

The early star has to be FMCG giant Procter and Gamble (P&G), which owns some of the most familiar brands you see in the supermarket, especially in the toiletries and detergents sections. How can you possibly augment toothpaste, razors or skincare with the latest technology, you may ask? Well strap yourself in and prepare for a glimpse into the bathroom of the future, best described by simply copying and pasting the P&G CES announcements.

  • SK-II’s Future X Smart Store, transforming beauty retail shopping with facial recognition and gesture-driven “phygital” experiences, augmented by SK-II’s proprietary skin science and diagnostics.
  • Olay’s Skin Advisor platform, which uses artificial intelligence to provide personalized skincare analysis and recommendations by analyzing selfies and a short questionnaire.
  • The Oral-B Genius X toothbrush, which uses artificial intelligence to recognize how users are brushing and provides personalized feedback that leads to better brushing, and superior oral health.
  • The new Heated Razor by GilletteLabs, which features a warming bar that heats up in less than one second and elevates the shave experience, delivering the pleasure of a hot towel shave with every stroke.
  • Opté Precision Skincare System combines camera optics, proprietary algorithms, printing technology and skincare in one device that scans the skin, detects hyperpigmentation and applies corrective serum with precision application to reveal the natural beauty of skin.
  • AIRIA, a smart home fragrance system that uses patented, capillary action and heating technology to establish scent-enhancing ambiance with the touch of a button.

It’s hard to know which to get most excited about isn’t it? The thought of indulging in gesture-driven phygital experiences, then enjoying the pleasure of a hot towel shave with every stroke, finished off with the application of corrective serum, makes the mind boggle.

“We’re living in a time of mass disruption, where the exponential power of technology combined with shifting societal and environmental forces are transforming consumer experiences every day,” said P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. “P&G is integrating cutting-edge technologies into everyday products and services to improve people’s lives. We’re combining what’s needed with what’s possible. By answering the question, ‘what if,’ we’re delivering irresistibly superior consumer experiences.”

“We’re innovating faster than ever, combining more than 180 years of capability with the entrepreneurial spirit of a lean startup,” said P&G Chief Research, Development and Innovation Officer, Kathy Fish. “As consumers are changing, so are we. What remains the same is our focus on deeply understanding how consumers live, work and play so we know precisely what they want. When we combine breakthrough science and technologies with this deep consumer understanding, we’re able to deliver transformative innovations that improve life every day.”

While P&G’s latest efforts are a case study in solving first world problems, that doesn’t mean they should be dismissed as utopian quirks. The core strategy of FMCG brands such as Gillette is to be seen to be constantly innovating in order to create a rapid sense of obsolescence and hence drive demand for upgrade purchases. It stands to reason, therefore, that they should be keen to embrace the latest technologies, however eccentric some of the outcomes might be.