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Why necessity may no longer be the mother of invention



Where once people’s behavior was the only driving force for new technologies, we’re now witnessing technology itself create necessities and bring about societal changes.


Have a think about how many products – especially portable household appliances – that are in existence simply because we observed how people live. From food blenders, which were primarily used for making juices, the centrifuge market was born. The idea that music and information could be transported anywhere gave rise to micro systems.

But today we are experiencing an effervescent moment of new necessities, with literally hundreds of new products launched around the world every week; products that create desires and wishes previously unthinkable up until now.


Today, we cannot imagine a home without an electronic product in each room that, in some way, makes our lives easier ­– but before it existed we didn’t care if we had it or not.

As we get swept away in this “inflation of things”, we are also beginning to see a change in the behavior of consumers. We’re noticing they are making better choices of their necessities by being more selective about the information they wish to receive, as well as being more pro-active in the dynamics of the market with their current and intense power to influence.

In other words, today’s consumer is beginning to take an interest in innovations that really matter to them.


In Latin America, the portable goods sector is increasingly seeking to develop technologies that respond to the transformations of society and new consumer necessities, new eating habits, greater responsibilities in domestic chores and the desire to be closer to and spend more time with family and friends Products that enable faster, healthier eating, or which facilitate domestic chores, are increasing more essential.


I am in no doubt that innovation goes way beyond simply inventing something. Unlike the way things were for a long time, innovation today must be seen primarily as the ability to adapt services and solutions for greater efficiency and satisfaction, in which there is a balance between profit and social development, in addition to the perennial nature of the business and its impact on the environment.


To adapt to this trend, innovation must be dealt with as intrinsic to doing business and, primarily, learning to listen to the new consumer who increasingly knows what they really need.


Henk de Jong

CEO Philips Latin America

Henk started his career at Philips in 1990 as a Product Manager. He worked in Brazil as a Marketing & Sales Manager for Kitchen Appliances from 1994 to 1998, and was instrumental in introducing Kitchen Appliances in China and India.


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