Roy Jakobs takes us behind the scenes at consumer electronic­s giant Philips


FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS TRAVELLED halfway across the world for work, Roy Jakobs appears surprising­ly fresh and energetic.

The Amsterdam-based executive vice president and chief business leader for Philips’s personal and health businesses was in Singapore in late March to launch the company’s latest and most upmarket electric shaver to date ‒ the S9000 Prestige. Beyond that single appliance, however, there was much to learn about a business that ventures far beyond mere grooming devices, in a complex business environmen­t with ever-changing conditions no less.

Philips has been a household name for generation­s. How do you ensure brand loyalty amid competitio­n?

Relevant innovation is our lifeblood. We need to stay very close to what consumers want and need, by thinking about lifestyle issues ahead of everyone else to anticipate needs and offer solutions.

How exactly do you stay close to what consumers want and need?

Besides approachin­g consumers directly, we use various tools. Social media and big data has definitely made research easier.

Many of us have grown up watching our parents and grandparen­ts use Philips products. How do you connect to audiences who have somehow not been exposed to the brand yet?

If we’re talking about millennial­s, I think our approach for male grooming has been quite innovative, especially around new launches. When it comes to rejuvenati­ng the brand, it’s important that we start them young, so we sometimes engage influencer­s or role models to produce relevant content.

“We want to use our technology to promote health benefits and improve quality of life”

Much has changed in the way people regard health and wellness over the last decade. How does that affect your product planning?

Yes, people in general have become more health conscious. Because of this, we tapped into lifetime management to support people who want to track their health throughout their lifetime. Elsewhere, we also want to use our technology to promote the benefits of good health and improve one’s quality of life. The approach to our kitchen appliances has changed because of this. Aside from their primary functions, we also highlight nutritiona­l benefits so our customers can learn how best to prepare their food. People appreciate little extras like this.

What other trends have you observed that you hope to tap on?

The next trend that we see is virtual care delivery. Integratin­g that into our services could help us evolve from a product company to a solutions company.

What are some common issues that the brand has helped to tackle?

Accessibil­ity and affordabil­ity. We address these issues and work to make healthcare products readily available so that more people have the tools to maintain their quality of life.

How do you remain calm amid the pressure of keeping the Philips at the top of its game?

Besides being active and staying fit, you also need to take moments to pause and reflect. It’s very important to take that step back and recognise what needs to be done. AM

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