Heading towards the light: Philips, Starbucks and the innovative fight against dark, winter mornings


In April, our FUTURE OF BETTERMENT unpacked the five trends shaping health and wellness. One of the key innovations that featured? EnergyUp cafes - where Philips introduced their daylight lamps to local Starbucks branches to offer a revitalising, two-pronged top-up for visitors. We picked the brains of Raúl Santamaría Learte, the Global Product Manager at Philips, as he shed some light on therapeutic qualities of the technology.  


What was the inspiration behind the EnergyUp cafes?

The inspiration for this collaboration was born in our Philips Nordics’ offices. It was the month of September when our marketing manager was looking for ideas to make people understand that there are no reasons to feel low on energy on dark, winter mornings.

We all know that coffee can boost your energy levels at the beginning of the day, but there is a complementary and more natural way to do so: light therapy!

This is when we reached out to a local marketing specialist at Starbucks to present the following idea: “What if Philips and Starbucks partner up for a short collaboration, in which Starbucks visitors get a double energy boost by having a nice latte in combination with a session of light therapy?”

The idea was well received and it was then rolled out to other Starbucks locations across Europe (i.e. France, Benelux and Germany). To make it even more impactful, we decided to kick it off on one of the saddest days of the year: “Blue Monday”.


What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Even though we are one of the top players in light therapy worldwide, we still struggle with increasing the awareness of our EnergyUp range. This is the reason why we always try to come up with inexpensive and creative ways to get the word out. On the other hand, our short-term expectation is that new players will join us in the marketplace, and that people all over the world will keep making an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives. These two elements will definitely help us in making the energy-by-light concept more and more accepted among the population (as it should be ;).

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

I believe that the best way to know what consumers want is by talking to them. Just with a quick online survey / social media campaign you can ask your (potential) consumers how they feel and what their pains are. Once this information is in your power, it is much easier to infer how to help them satisfy their needs.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

I was very impressed with the portable oxygen devices that Philips has recently launched. These devices allow people with COPD respiratory problems to turn their dream of singing in a choir into reality.

Another innovation that caught my eye in the past weeks is GravityLight. This device is aiming at solving the electricity problem in developing countries, where the average household spends around 10-20% of their income in kerosene lamps. With this small lamp, you just need to get some sand or rocks at the bottom to get 20mins of electricity. Frankly impressive!


I mentioned the above two innovations because they are simple and attempt to improve peoples’ lives. In my opinion, these are the two goals every new innovation should aim for.


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