Once or twice a week over the next few months, we'll be sharing insights from one of our speakers about the opportunities and challenges the industry faces while also hearing a little about how they got started. Today's Q&A is with Alejandro Pena , President USA, Jarden Consumer Solutions, who will speak on the panel, 'The Connected Appliance Revolution', which will look at what happens when kitchen appliances become a part of the network and how the connected kitchen will change appliance design, user interfaces, sales and customer support. You can read more about Alejandro here.
Alejandro Pena, Jarden Consumer Solutions
What problem is your company trying to solve that current kitchen or food industry technology doesn’t?
Pena: Consumer - External: We’re continuously trying to improve consumers’ lives by making experiences in the kitchen more convenient and enjoyable. We believe that technology, specifically the intersection of software and durable products, delivers an enhanced consumer experience. These integrated solutions need to deliver an experience that is unconstrained, creative and connected.
Company - Internal: We believe that by connecting devices we can more effectively learn about people’s interactions in order to introduce meaningful improvements to a process and to better design the products of tomorrow.
Tell us about an important ‘origin story’ moment in creating your product or founding the company.
Pena: Our first smart new product introduction was a Crock‐Pot® Slow Cooker at CES in 2014! This is the most exciting and innovative show so to get any attention was a huge early WIN. We took a nostalgic product that hasn’t significantly changed since it was first introduced and injected new life into it by making it smart. We’ve gotten feedback ranging from “this is ludicrous, you’re so lazy” to “where has this been my whole life.” Connected products aren’t for everyone, we have to focus on the innovators and early adopters, they are the ones that best understand how these connected features will solve problems for them and their experience will help us improve in order to get to the early majority.
What’s the most exciting aspect about the fusion of technology and kitchen for you?
Pena: Overall, it's about transforming the kitchen experience. Near term, I'd describe the state of this transformation with the following words: uncertain, anxious, confused, rushed, complex, deficient. Long term? Unconstrained, adventurous, creative, confident, connected, proud.
What is the biggest potential pitfall do you believe the smart kitchen industry need to avoid to realize its potential?
Pena: Making connected products for the sake of making connected products. Technology that doesn’t solve a problem is technology for the sake of technology that eventually will fail. The real value in the connected home is not about products, features of technologies…it’s about outcomes and experiences. We have seen a wide range of connected products being introduced in part because companies are looking for differentiation and easy access to technology enables anyone to jump on the smart home (IoT) bandwagon. We don’t just want to make more products; we want our products to do more for consumers.
What do you think will be the biggest change technology will bring to the kitchen and foodtech space over the next 10 years?
Pena: I believe the biggest impact will be on the number of meals prepared and consumed at home (growth) and the way people shop for groceries. Technology will enable the on‐demand economy in the Food industry. The right food, where you want it and when you want it. No more waste!
Shopping today is ‘just in case’ shopping: buying habits, walking the aisles, in-store decisions, impulse buys, high/wrong inventories, wasted food. Shopping tomorrow will be ‘planned shopping:’ the right products, better meals, better planning, the right ingredients, less time out of home shopping, better supply chain, less waste. Consider how that impacts “impulse buy” companies like gum brands, magazine distributors, endcap advertisers, etc…
Come hear Alejandro and over thirty other great leaders in the connected kitchen on November 5th in Seattle. Register today!