Mondelez International Chief Media and E-commerce Officer B. Bonin Bough has been attending CES for about 10 years. He calls it "probably one of the most important events of the year" and "a massively valuable event," given the convergence of brands, marketers, media and tech. Also key, he says, the discussion around how the next wave of consumer products will impact how brands connect with consumers. Mondelez, the maker of products such as Oreo cookies, aims to have as much as $1 billion in annual revenue come from e-commerce by 2020, up from less than $100 million.
Mr. Bough aims to find new ideas, including dragons. "Everybody is looking for unicorns in the marketplace, which are fast-growing billion-dollar tech businesses. I believe that we can start building dragons, which are faster growing billion-dollar businesses built on the back of traditional organizations that have scale, resources and funding, but most importantly have the brands that people know and love. That will be driven by the digitization of those organizations."
The following Q&A has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Ad Age: Why do you attend CES?
Mr. Bough: One, you get all of the big consumer electronics news, what's coming out, you get to see the future as you go through the years. The other thing I really like is to see the emergent stuff. What's the new kind of stuff that's bubbling up. To me, that's what's really interesting because that allows you to begin to think about what is the next year going to look like, and the year after that going to look like. How do I find those unique things that are brand new, that are new and early that we can partner with, that we can help bring scale to, that can help change the way we engage our consumers?
Ad Age: Do you have any examples of things from past shows that you were able to collaborate on?
Mr. Bough: If you look at the work we did on the Oreo 3D printer, [CES was] kind of where we finalized the idea. We had a general sense that we wanted to create some type of experience that customized an Oreo cookie, which ultimately led to the launch that we just did of Colorfilled, our first custom product delivered direct to consumer. Starting at CES 2014 is really where we solidified what our thinking was as we met some of the other 3D printer players in the marketplace. You begin to see where is the future going and what are the big trends. It wasn't really 3D printing as much as it was the on-demand customization of products.
Ad Age: Other than 3D printers, is there other technology you've seen at CES that you've been able to bring into the organization or implement in some way for the brand?
Mr. Bough: We launched a beacon network from some of the work that we saw at CES. Also, some of the tech companies that we saw there have helped shape our e-commerce approach. We've done work on our video delivery with a company called Tongal that we spent a lot of time with at CES. Every CES I believe we come back with stuff that we implement.
Ad Age: This year are you planning to set up meetings or is it more a chance to roam the floor?
Mr. Bough: The good thing about CES is that has become a place where a lot of people in the industry descend on all at once. So you can get a lot done. You can choose to meet with the regular players or there's a lot of opportunity to meet with brand new players there. We set up meetings. We host a meeting area in one of the hotels , nd we have some of our senior executives attend and take meetings. So I do both: walk the floor and take meetings.
Ad Age: Are there any particular partners you're planning to meet with?
Mr. Bough: For us, this year what's really important is how to do we begin to look at what the future of e-commerce is. What's the next wave of e-commerce thinking as we build our billion-dollar business by 2020, and really thinking about impulse and what's the future of impulse product purchasing in the online environment. The other thing that's super important to us is media monetization. How do we begin to actually make revenue back off of our media investments? Those are two big pushes, and then rounding it out with a number of meetings with VCs and private equity to see what are the new products and technology that they're looking at and thinking of.
Ad Age: How big is the team from Mondelez that goes?
Mr. Bough: Between eight and 10 people. We alternate our global media meeting between here and Cannes. This year it's actually a smaller delegation than it was last year. We could have as many as 25 people.
Ad Age: Do you think CES has maintained its importance in the past few years?
Mr. Bough: I actually think that it's more important now than ever. It's the beginning of the year, so it's the first place that everybody gets back together after the holidays. There's become a much larger presence of the media industry there. I think that the most important thing is that now we're seeing startups; we're seeing emerging tech; we're seeing stuff that's coming out of Indiegogo; we're seeing stuff that's coming out of Techstars. So we're really seeing what used to be tech that lived in the Valley now truly becoming part of the consumer lexicon in a bigger way, and that's what's going to transform the way we connect with consumers. It's that real crossroads of where tech and consumer are meeting to create the products that are really going to have impact on the way that we market to consumers in the future.