Trends of the Trade: SLUSH 2015

-Jonathan Zheng

Slush 1
While on vacation in Finland, I had the opportunity to attend Slush Conference – one of Europe’s largest tech and startup conferences held annually in Helsinki. In it’s eighth year, the conference had 15,000 attendees, showcased over 1,700 startups and had 800 venture capitalists looking to invest in companies. Slush also had over 30 speakers – entrepreneurs, heads of state, and executives from the tech and media space – giving talks on topics ranging from the state of music and gaming technology, ecommerce and mobile payments, virtual reality, health technology, and the Internet of Things.

It became very evident that the Nordics are and will continue to be a major hub for global tech innovation. It is the birthplace of popular apps like Skype, Spotify, and of course Angry Birds. Attendees came from over 100 different counties eager to get a look at the next slew of emerging startups.

Though this was a tech focused event, its insights are applicable to the experiential marketing industry. We’re consumer driven and staying on top of trends both domestically and especially globally will help keep us on the cutting edge.

Some of my most notable observations include:

Importance of Design
I sat in on a panel titled “Why Design Should Be In Every Company’s DNA”. The panelists all shared the opinion that the world’s highest valued companies are also the most design driven. It’s a trend mostly attributed to companies like Apple that emphasize aesthetics in product development as much as functionality. Their main argument was that good design is critical to distinguishing one self from the competition. Venture capital firms are hiring more designers to vet investments, making a company’s focus on design as essential to its viability as its financials.

From an experiential POV, this couldn’t be more true as the design aspect for any program we touch is of the utmost importance.  From what we have found, bringing the look and feel of our client’s brand to life ensures that consumers understand the brand’s marketing story and personality while they develop a relationship with its products.

Healthtech/Wearables 
A major theme of the conference was healthcare technology and innovations in the fitness and medical fields. I experienced various wearables and body monitors including heart rate and brainwave sensors, and a literal mood sensing ring. An Australian startup, CareMonkey, even won the 650,000 euro prize for best startup at Slush. CareMonkey is an app that automates the collection and distribution of sensitive personal data, saving time and the hassle of paper documentation. It also reduces the chance of medical errors by having all the crucial information easily and immediately accessible by mobile device.

Within the experiential space, we have seen wearables create ease for our event goers through wristbands. Today, the wristbands that were once only used for security purposes can do anything from sending event images to consumer emails to advising music festival attendees about what stages are the most or least crowded.

Slush 2Virtual Reality
VR also had a large presence at Slush, and it was clear that the technology is still very much in its infancy but will continue to have a much large impact in our lives moving forward. VR gaming and video is already popular, immersive VR and augmented reality will get bigger, and its influence will eventually expand beyond the consumer space into industrial application.  VR also allows experiential marketers to give consumers a behind the scenes look at premium experiences (i.e. half-time locker-room talks, sideline action, VIP access to concerts etc.)

On top of all of my above observations, the key learning I found from attending Slush was that the event itself was experiential marketing at its finest.  The event developed an atmosphere of excitement ensuring that each attendee, from coder-extrodinaire to those who can’t determine a flip-phone from a smart phone, was engaged.  DJs blasting EDM at the Welcome party and afterparties pushed attendees to network and feel comfortable in the high-tech setting while panels limited jargon and provided clear-cut visions of the future of tech.

CES will always be the go-to for the US, but I strongly recommend checking out SLUSH in upcoming years for a full 360 view of the future of tech and how it will affect marketing moving forward.

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Written by The Wolf
The Wolf

December 21st, 2015 at 2:06 pm

with one comment

Posted in Experience