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The future is social: The importance of making meaningful connections



Connections. I can’t think of a better word that more closely encapsulates what Philips is about. More than 120 years ago, when Gerard Philips watched his workshop light up as he connected the metal filament in his revolutionary glass lamp, the link between innovation and the customer was forged – and it’s never left us.

Today, the connections Philips makes with its customers are reciprocal. Through extraordinary technology, we can help people to live longer, richer and fuller lives and they can tell us in an instant what it is that truly motivates them, how a product has specifically connected with them, how we as a company can push our innovations to transform their lives in even more personal ways.


This is what drives our social strategy. To create an intimately connected business in which innovation is not just clever, it’s meaningful. And there are at least three ways in which this happens.

First, control. Let’s return to our humble light bulb – which is no longer quite so humble. The Philips Hue allows customers to precisely change the shade of lighting in a room to match the mood – a pink-tinge for the morning perhaps, or a disco light effect for a Saturday night gathering. We innovate; the customer controls. And what bonds the two is a close and personally meaningful social connection that accepts that a product is not static, that there is a need to interact with it. It’s what we call a connected value proposition.

Second, social allows us to participate in a dialogue in which the most important message is not what you say about your brand but what your customers say about it. Social isn’t just a tool to launch a campaign, it’s about being part of a meaningful experience in which a product, the consumer and the brand all exist within a unique and constantly changing ecosystem. And the more we interact and connect within it – and the greater speed with which we do so – the more beneficial the outcomes.


Third, social creates an endless supply of data in which customers’ behaviors, needs and desires – as well as those of business partners and governmental stakeholders – can be intricately analyzed so products can become even more meaningful to individuals, communities and even entire nations. Data allows us to adapt swiftly to the ways in which our products are used and to be geographically relevant. Our kitchen Airfryer, for instance, is used in entirely different ways by Russian cooks as it is by Singaporean cooks, so data allows us to localise according to culture.


This sort of engagement is what guides our social journey. Whether it’s through a new piece of connected technology or a website with interesting content, a mobile device, an app or social media forum, we can see what the customer is doing and optimize our service to them.


I believe that the future is social – which is why Philips has invested so much in building these connections.


Just as Gerard’s connected light bulb was the beginning, so the building of these connections is only the starting point of real interactions that bring meaning to people’s lives.

Blake Cahill

Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing

A senior executive with more than 20 years of business development experience, Blake is helping to lead Philips' international rebranding and expansion into new technologies and markets. With a strong background in executing highly complex and results-oriented strategies, Blake has led a series of marketing, creative, client management, product innovation and thought leadership projects for both Fortune 500 organisations and digital start-ups.

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