By Vicki Matranga
Design Programs Coordinator
Informing Innovation: Meet Greg Kahn, GK Digital Media, Santiago Merea, Yummly; Jenny Cooper, Google and Mike Fretwell, Jarden Consumer Solutions
Home environments, kitchen appliances, phones—how do they connect and why? Physical products that respond to our activities and communicate with each other and with services promise more convenient, efficient and rewarding living. We’ll hear from experts who are building the Internet of Things space in the housewares and related industries, today’s most rapidly evolving trend.
Greg Kahn, moderator of the panel discussion, is the CEO of GK Digital Media — a strategic advisory firm focused on emerging technology. Greg is also the President/CEO of the Internet of Things Consortium – a trade association developed to promote the growth of the IoT industry. Greg’s practice covers wearables, home automation, virtual reality, 3D printing, connected cars and emerging content models. He has more than 20 years of experience in the media industry, having worked at well-established content and advertising technology companies such as Viacom, Publicis Groupe, Meredith, and Omnicom. In 2010, Greg received both Advertising Age’s Media Maven and Mediaweek’s All-Star awards. He is a regular speaker at numerous industry events including the Consumer Electronics Show, Mobile World Congress, the Smart Kitchen Summit and South by Southwest (SXSW).
Santiago Merea, originally from Argentina, has worked in for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, senatorial political campaigns and the U.S. State Department. His studies centered on behavioral economics and public opinion research. He is passionate about product and customer development and he believes that design thinking is changing the way we create products and services. Santiago was included in Fast Company’s 2013 “Who’s Next” list of entrepreneurs. He is chief revenue officer at Yummly, a mobile app and website launched in 2010, now with 15 million monthly unique visitors, that provides personalized recipes and recommendations to help foodies cook, eat and share.
Jenny Cooper, sales development manager for the Food and Beverage team at Google, pairs her knowledge of the industry with relevant consumer insights to help advertisers solve business problems and find digital advertising opportunities. Before joining Google, she worked at creative ad agencies Leo Burnett and FCB launching integrated campaigns. Jenny graduated from the University of Wisconsin and is currently completing an MBA at Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management.
Mike Fretwell is the vice president and general manager of the home environment and wellness team at Jarden Consumer Solutions. He has led the Mr. Coffee™ team, the Crock-Pot™ team, as well as the Oster™ blending business. He is the executive sponsor of the Internet of Things for Jarden, focusing on connected home and connected health.
What is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work?
Greg: I work with inspiring entrepreneurs and executives every day who want to lay the groundwork of the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. It’s a fast-paced and constantly changing movement. I thrive on that spirit of entrepreneurial energy.
Santiago: Knowing that what we do with technology today has the potential to change the way people do things around the world for the better. What we can achieve with technology in a short amount of time is remarkable.
Jenny: The most exciting part of my work is validating my hunches about consumer behavior. Through understanding consumers based on the signals they send us on Google platforms, I am able to have an idea about how consumer behavior is changing.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
Greg: IoT has morphed from a buzz phrase to a viable industry. Initially, technology companies were the only ones that were engaged in IoT activities. Today, the ecosystem has widened significantly to retailers, insurance companies, consumer product firms, and even media creators.
The Internet of Things Consortium (IOTC) is organized in a way that invites participation from all these parties and provides a framework where companies can create partnerships and develop viable business models.
Santiago: Startups like ours are working more and more with large companies as they recognize the importance of innovation and the competitive advantages that software can bring to their businesses. We have a dedicated team to work with large organizations and recognize that they don’t move as fast as startups do.
Jenny: The largest change has been in the way consumers consume content. They now expect to be entertained when, where and how they want. Basically on-demand. At Google we have seen mobile usage on our platforms explode, and it has changed the way we work and the advice we give our partners.
The Smart Kitchen: Trends and Early Success Stories
Greg Kahn, Santiago Merea, Jenny Cooper and Mike Fretwell
Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center, Room E350
March 6, Sunday 1:30 – 2:20 pm
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
Greg: So much of the conversation around the Internet of Things takes place on the coasts of the U.S., and I felt it was important to bring that dialog to Chicago. And, I’m a big fan of Lou Malnati’s pizza!
Santiago: The International Home + Housewares Show is often under-appreciated by software companies and I believe that is a huge mistake I don’t want to make.
Jenny: As someone who has been following the food and beverage industry for most of my career, I think the standard way people interact with cooking and their kitchen is starting to be disrupted by technology.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
Greg: We’ll be talking about The Smart Kitchen: Trends and Early Success Stories. The kitchen is the gathering hub of the American home and technology is changing the way we prepare food, eat, and share information. It’s important that the audience understand the pace of change so that they can best prepare their companies for success.
Santiago: We’ll be talking about how software is “eating the world/the home” and about the trends in the smart kitchen.
Jenny: I will be speaking about how younger generations (specifically Millennials) have changed their behaviors in the kitchen to become more digital. They’re turning to mobile at every phase of the cooking journey—deciding what to make, learning how to prepare it, and actually cooking or baking.
What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
Greg: I’m new to the International Home + Housewares Show. I’m looking forward to leading a dynamic panel and making new friends. And I hope that some participants will consider joining the IOTC.
Jenny: I’m most excited to meet people from a connected, but still somewhat separate industry, and see how they understand shifts in consumer behavior.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
Greg: Because technology is changing so rapidly, consumers are concerned that their connected products may become outdated quickly and need to be replaced. At the same time, they often want to simplify their lives and the various standards that exist in the home make that a difficult proposition.
Santiago: Value and convenience.
Jenny: Is it a quality product, and does the brand create content that helps me in some way?
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
Greg: Mass personalization is a key trend throughout the country. Consumers want to personalize nearly everything today and technologies such as 3D printing are making that more and more possible.
Another trend is the notion that everything should be connected – wearable devices to smart home devices, cars to workplace devices. Houseware manufacturers must think through how they create products within a connected society.
If anything, social media has become more prevalent through new channels (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Periscope, etc). Manufacturers may want to think through ways that their products can offer consumers more “social experiences.”
Thank you Greg, Santiago, Jenny and Mike, for a preview of how you will help us understand the ways that connected home products will enhance daily living. Our Show audience will appreciate learning from such experts on today’s most intriguing trend. We look forward to hearing your discussion on Sunday March 6 at 1:30 pm in the Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center room e350.
To learn more about the panelists, contact:
President and CEO, Internet of Things Consortium
Chief Revenue Officer
Innovation propels the housewares industry. Learn from experts about how to develop and launch new products and services to better reach your customers. Critical issues such as global design trends, the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) category, omni-channel retailing, branding, the needs of distinct consumer age groups, the future of food and more – all impact the home goods market.
Be sure to attend the free executive-level educational sessions at the Innovation Theater. These programs will give you a fresh perspective as you walk the Show and will inspire, inform and improve your business.