gfu Predicts Key Trends

Hans-Joachim Kamp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, tracks the highs and lows

As always, the big questions at the start of IFA are always “what are the key groundswell trends this year?” and what are the sweet-spot in terms of products and which areas are in decline. We asked this and more to Hans-Joachim Kamp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, the organisation at the heart of IFA.

Looking at the TV category, exciting trends are the once again improved picture quality, forced by the competition of OLED with LED, UHD and HDR and the attractive designs and new solutions for the living room like ultra-flat screens, which can be hung up like wallpapers.

The ongoing increase of energy-efficiency and connectivity (driven by alliances like EEBus or Mosaiq) are key trends of home appliances. Furthermore, there are the trends of voice recognition, artificial intelligence and robots.

What new developments are you seeing in the fields of smart products, smart home and smart cars?

The new generation of smart products is getting to know its user very closely. Those products are able to adopt to their customers habits and to make their life easier. For example, a coffee machine notices how and when its user wants his hot beverage.

Another fascinating topic is voice recognition. Recognition rates are increasing, the longer they are getting used. Concerning smart cars, media groups are already developing concepts for entertainment in smart cars.

What are the main factors driving the following markets at the moment?

In TV, the main areas concern UHD, HDR, bigger screens, attractive designs, very thin displays; in smartphones the main factor is around more processing power. Streaming services and multiroom are the key areas in home audio and personal audio.

In major domestic appliances, the main factors are connectivity and energy efficiency; in small appliances, there are lots of new products for food preparing and processing and new product categories for fresh and healthy cooking.

Other new products include drones, which are becoming more powerful with longer flight time, higher camera resolutions and 360° cameras.

How is the electronic retail sector progressing on a global level in terms of the re-thinking of distribution, promotion and after sales service?

Even in times of big onlineaffinity it remains very important that products can be tried in the retail sector, because otherwise the added value might not be clear. The key word is emotion.

Without emotion there will be no success. Therefore retailers should focus on their core capabilities, advice and service. Besides that the retail sector needs to be ready for multichannel retailing. It is important that the customers’ needs are in the centre of attention as well as reliable service.

RETAILERS SHOULD FOCUS ON THEIR CORE CAPABILITIES, ADVICE AND SERVICE

Health and medical products are taking on added importance. Where do you see this going?

We expect a growing demand for health and fitness products. They are helping people to make their lives healthier. This kind of support is in demand like the increasing sales of wearables prove. New appliances could also help to decrease costs in the health system or to deliver better and faster help for patients.

The other buzz is of course about VR and AR. What are your thoughts about these topics?

Experts keep saying that Virtual Reality will create drastic changes quite similar to the smartphone in the last years. It is clear that VR is able to change our daily life, because its range is wider than just games and fun: Broadcasting news, education, cooperation in and of companies, shopping and even architecture are possible applications now and in the future.

Do you think there are any new developments we will see in the coming months and years that we never would have dreamed of?

First I would already mention the new ultra-flat screens here. In the near future they will be flexible as well. Furthermore I am sure that VR, AR and artificial intelligence will continue to surprise us with new possibilities and products