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Yongky Sentosa has his finger on the pulse of the Indonesian consumer. 

That is partly because the Country General Manager of Philips Personal Health business, understands that good salespeople need to be as familiar with their customers as they are with their products, and partly because Indonesia is developing at breakneck speed. Favorable demographics and rapid urbanization have seen the country’s economy grow at an annual rate of 5.28% since 2000, and its GDP per capita rise from $857 to $3,847 during that same period [1]. 

Together with the meteoric rise of the smartphone, the country’s changing economic fortunes have created a new class of Indonesian consumer – one that is young, tech-savvy and cashed-up. According to Yongky, the rapid rate of change means he cannot afford to take his eye off the ball.

“We have to ensure that we're useful and our products offer benefits to people. That's the most important thing,” he says. “The starting point should always be the consumer's point of view – what they need and what are the trends. And in the internet era, they are always changing.”
The country’s burgeoning middle class is also increasingly taking an active interest in its personal health. Which is why Philips Indonesia’s Personal Health business is experiencing such rapid growth. 
The business division sells everything from Mother Child Care products (milk bottle to breast pump), Kitchen Appliances products (rice cooker to air fryer), Garment Care (dry iron to garment steamer), and Personal Care (hair dryer to electric shaver). Moreover, according to Yongky, it is able to sell such high volumes of these goods because its actions are motivated by Philips’s values other than profit. 

“At Philips, we believe that food and drink are the building blocks of a healthy life. Homemade food has the power to nourish like nothing else, giving us control over the ingredients we use and therefore the quality of the meal.”

This same commitment to the health of its customers also sees Philips offering customers ideas for healthy meals and smoothies, messages that Yongky says Philips communicates through a mix of traditional and non-traditional media campaigns. 

“Because the target market is mostly below 40 years old, we’re sharing a lot of these recipes online,” he says. “We use Facebook and Instagram as our social channels mostly and publish articles and information on our website. And we also use PR in the media, which can help to spread our message on the importance of healthy living.”

The diverse array of media employed by Yongky and his team reflects a broader change sweeping the archipelagic nation. While traditional mom-and-pops still dominate the retail landscape, e-commerce is growing rapidly. 

According to a study by the Financial Times, 11 million Indonesians joined the country’s online shopping community in 2017 alone [2]. And the fact that only half of the country’s population is currently using the internet suggests there’s a lot of room for growth [3]. 

​​​​​​​Of course, Indonesia’s status as an emerging economy presents as many challenges as it does opportunities. Chief among them, for Yongky, is the country’s troublesome electricity supply.
We have to ensure that the wattage needed for our products is attainable for the Indonesian consumer. The Indonesian government places a maximum wattage on [every] house, so the challenge becomes, ‘how do we provide products that give consumers healthy living functions, at wattages they can afford."
"That's why we really need to focus on the five biggest cities in Indonesia: Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Medan, and Makassar."

Notwithstanding the challenges it faces, Philips Indonesia has tremendous yearly growth since 2014, and Yongky believes the company’s success owes as much to its promotion of progressive workplace values as it does to the swelling ranks of the country’s middle class. 

Where other corporate companies insist on maintaining hierarchical structures, Yongky says Philips Indonesia encourages its staff to show initiative and take ownership for their work. As a result, staff members feel both empowered to take risks and inspired to go the extra mile.

In fact, the opportunity to “express” himself was what convinced Yongky to join Philips back in 2013. “When I interviewed at Philips, I felt like this was a place where you could really sharpen your entrepreneurial skills – where you could become an entrepreneur, in the right way, by making mistakes and learning from them.”

In Yongky’s mind, therein lies Philips’s unique selling proposition: its commitment to continuously innovate in the right way, for the right reason. 

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=ID and https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/indonesia/overview 
[2] https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/FT-Confidential-Research/Alibaba-backed-Tokopedia-takes-online-shopping-throne 
[3] https://www.slideshare.net/wearesocial/digital-in-2018-in-southeast-asia-part-2-southeast-86866464 (Slide 34 of 206]