People at the heart of innovation

people centric research
The world is a jungle of trends. There is no end to them. We don't create them, people make them. Our job is to curate them", begins Hanne Caspersen, Creative Director of Trend Analysis at Philips Design.


Never before has design innovation been so intertwined with emerging trends and yet, with a focus on creating meaningful solutions that improve people's lives, Philips Design takes a different approach to many organizations in identifying, analyzing and utilizing trends insight.


"Many companies interpret trends from a product or marketing perspective but we are always people focused"

Hanne Caspersen

Interpret Trends

"Many companies interpret trends from a product or marketing perspective but we are always people focused. We are ultimately interested in understanding new behaviors, how people are changing, what they are doing and wanting to do, how they are adapting situations to them and their needs or what their unmet needs are.


Behavioral change is our starting point because it is only by taking a people-centric approach that we can innovate in the ways that are for the betterment of society, driving positive change, find new opportunities rather than simply launching more products into already cluttered categories," continues Hanne Caspersen.

To identify trends and translate them in ways that make them real and relevant, the Trends team within Philips Design adopts a six-step process. The starting point is, of course, the research question.


The team then creates a mind maps to explore all sides of the question and identifies search - fields - before going out to look for weak signals. These weak signals can be anything; changes in behavior, facts, figures, inspirations from artists, new research and experiments, new businesses, new products, services and observations from fieldwork.


These unsorted phenomena are logged in the trend-wiki; our global online collaboration tool that is continually updated, and then the core team of 2 or 3 people begin a process called 'pattern recognition'. 'Pattern recognition' is used to identify common areas that eventually form the basis for a trend.

Research image

Hanne Caspersen explains: "Ultimately we're looking for new behaviors. The ways people have changed, adapted or would like to change their behavior to make a situation happen or work. For example, we can look at how artists are challenging society's conventions and norms. Or for example, long before we had a smart TVs, we were observing that lead-users were hacking x-boxes and their likes to make their TV's smart.


A psychological model is then applied to the weak signals to identify patterns of common motivation and behavior. The team uses a mind map or matrix to cluster, using key words, looking for new and interesting angles. The motivations are key to the curation and plotting of people-centric trends.


Next weak signals are grouped to thoroughly describe the trend. The teams use a Trend DNA canvas to interrogate the trend, provide perspective of its starting point and evolution and precisely define it. The final DNA document is a story with a clear angle.


And of course, the end result of such an in-depth, people-centric approach is, meaningful innovation and commercial success. The application of trends analysis has a significant influence on the Philips innovation pipeline and enables the company to be prepared for key trends and opportunities before they hit. For example, the Philips Shaving & Grooming team was able to build a facial styling business ahead of the market. Similarly, Philips Kitchen Appliances has seen great product and brand success by leading the move toward healthy eating and living.

'The end result of such an in-depth, people-centric approach is, meaningful innovation and commercial success'

people centric research

So what next?

Hanne Caspersen concludes: "We're looking to Nigeria at present. It's the Tiger of Africa. Lagos is a city of 17.5 million people and Africa as a whole has a very young and inventive by necessity population. With a deep understanding of their needs and drivers, we can better innovate for the continent that is driving a significant proportion of the world's population boom. After all, you have to experience the problem to be able to imagine the solution. For example, the more network ready Africa becomes the more likely it is to be pulled out of poverty. And as a people focused technology company, we're well placed to create meaningful innovations.


Personal Health is also an area we're driving within Philips but within this we've identified the trend of the Systemic Self. This is about people understanding their minds and bodies as a whole, for which scientific evidence is now piling up and not getting lost in the process of modernization. Mindfulness is becoming a new type of medicine and perceptions of time and the sense ofdoing too many things at once will need to change."

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