“A Bimby, o robô de cozinha multifunções alemão, tornou-se uma obsessão no país mais pobre da Europa Ocidental”, escreveu o Wall Street Journal esta quinta-feira. Em 2013, os portugueses compraram mais de 35 mil robôs Bimby.
O Wall Street Journal estranha a popularidade do robô de cozinha que é “uma obsessão” num país “que quase atingiu a bancarrota em 2011 e teve que aceitar cortes orçamentais dolorosos em troca de ajuda internacional”., analisa o Mas o jornal norte-americano encontra uma explicação: “Os portugueses adoram gagdets e, apesar dos tempos difíceis, parecem determinados em manter a sua tradição de se juntarem regularmente para jantar”.
“É uma máquina ‘multitask’ que vende mais do que os últimos iPads em Portugal e que é mais popular no Facebook do que a banda de rock mais conhecida do país”, escreve (a banda de rock a que se refere chama-se Xutos & Pontapés). A verdade é que a Bimby tem vindo a registar recordes de vendas em cada um dos últimos três anos em Portugal, diz o jornal – isto apesar de custar preço 966 euros, “quase o dobro do salário mínimo mensal”.
Em 2012, os portugueses compraram mais de 35 mil robôs Bimby e, segundo as previsões da Vorwek, 8% dos 3,7 milhões de lares portugueses terão um robô destes no final de 2014.
A Vorwerk revelou ainda que as vendas da Bimby em Portugal atingiram recordes de vendas: só em Novembro deste ano foram vendidos 5 077 robôs Bimby, um número nunca antes atingido. Nem o lançamento de robôs concorrentes – como a Yämmi da Sonae (à venda nas lojas Continente e Worten, por 349 euros) – abanou os números da Bimby.
Segue-se o artigo completo do Wall Street Journal:
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When Marta Brito lost her job, she says, she was rescued by a machine she is now so fond of, she almost considers it a friend. It is a multitasker that outsells high-end iPads in Portugal and is more popular on Facebook than the country’s best-known rock band.
Bimby, a German-made cooking robot, has become an obsession in Western Europe’s poorest country by promising to make cooking cheap and easy.
Bimby looks like a food-processor with a stainless-steel container and a steaming unit that weighs ingredients, chops, grates, blends, beats, mixes and cooks, all under the control of a timer that lets the cook step away from the kitchen until the food is ready.
Its popularity might seem surprising in a country that nearly defaulted on its debt in 2011 and had to accept painful budget slashing in return for an international bailout. But the Portuguese love gadgets and seem determined, despite hard times, to maintain their tradition of regularly getting together for dinner.
“Bimby’s maker has done a great job selling the machine as a money and time saver…particularly in a time restaurants have become prohibitive for many,” said Joaquim Silva, a marketing lecturer at the University of Minho who used Bimby as a case study for his doctoral thesis on marketing.
Mr. Silva also pointed out that the Portuguese love fashionable items and respond readily to word-of-mouth advertising. No long infomercials here promising bliss are needed.
Vorwerk & Co., Bimby’s manufacturer, has reported record sales in Portugal in each of the past three years, despite a $1,327 price that is nearly twice the monthly minimum wage. Last year the Portuguese bought more than 35,000 Bimbys, compared with 22,000 iPads priced above $700. According to Vorwerk’s forecasts, 8% of the country’s 3.7 million households will own a Bimby by the end of 2014.
Bimby was introduced here in 2000 and is sold in about 60 countries. Its market penetration in Portugal is particularly high.
Bimby has more than 100,000 likes on Facebook; the super-popular rock band Xutos & Pontapés has about 83,000. A Bimby magazine sells 35,000 copies a month in Portugal, more than fashion icon Vogue’s Portuguese edition.
Owners tend to think of the robot as a feminine helper and, in conversations, refer to it as “she.” The name has also morphed into a verb—bimbar. A member of Parliament recently called Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas “a governing Bimby” for taking on too many tasks under the various government positions he has held.
Ms. Brito, who three years ago barely had the patience to make soup, now calls herself a “bimbyholic.” She bought her machine to help her juggle motherhood and a full-time job as a travel agent. When she lost her job in late 2010, she turned to her newfound taste for cooking. Now she spends a good part of her day trying new recipes, posting them on her blog—”Donabimby,” or Mrs. Bimby—and answering questions from more than 9,000 fans. She sells jams at fairs and has acquired sponsorship deals with bakeware companies. “You can say Bimby changed my life,” said Ms. Brito.
Ms. Brito said her family now spends a lot less for groceries. This is one of the main reasons Bimby’s maker gives for the record sales. In Ms. Brito’s home, mayonnaise and ketchup are both handmade. She can’t remember the last time she bought a birthday cake or canapés for parties. If Bimby broke and had to get fixed, Ms. Brito said she would be lost.
“Just to think of all the boxes I would have to go through in the garage to find all my retired appliances, it gives me a headache,” she said.
Bimby, which now has some competition from a device called Yammi introduced by Portuguese supermarket chain Continente in September, reported record sales of more than 5,000 of the robots in November.
“Bimby’s fan base is so large and the community so well built through forums and blogs, that it is like a cult,” Mr. Silva said.
Of course, Bimby has its critics. Sandra Simões, a lawyer from Lisbon, recently saw a cooking demonstration and wasn’t impressed.
“There is no spontaneity buying the ingredients, cooking and even seasoning food, since everything is already measured, programmed and mechanized through their recipes,” said Ms. Simões. “Plus I don’t ever want to be dependent on an appliance.”
Ms. Brito herself puts the machine aside to make some things, including rice, which she says turns out much better cooked cordlessly on the stove.
Bimby was created in 1970. A Vorwerk director in France, where people love thickened soups, came up with the idea of designing an appliance that could blend and cook at the same time. Known outside Portugal and Italy as Thermomix, the appliance is sold as far away as New Zealand but isn’t sold directly in the U.S.
Erica Arimathea, an economist who quit her job a year ago to sell Bimbys full time, said men are equality enchanted with the robot. “Some are so obsessed they don’t let their wives touch the machines,” she said. “It’s like a toy.”
Bimbys aren’t sold in stores. Instead, Ms. Arimathea and about 1,400 other agents go door to door to show prospective buyers how to make juices, soups, sauces, ice creams, dough and even a traditional cod dish in less than two hours.
In seconds the machine turns regular, granulated sugar into powdered sugar, which is more expensive to buy. It makes ice cream that is cheaper than store-bought. It makes a big batch of yogurt from milk, a cup of yogurt and some milk powder. That is cheaper, too.
“A Bimby basically pays for itself, and after that provides substantial savings that in this day and age are essential,” said Ms. Arimathea, who at the end of her demonstrations sits down with her clients to discuss payment options. Ms. Arimathea said she had sold 94 Bimbys in 173 demonstrations.
Actually, she said, selling isn’t quite what she does. “You don’t buy a Bimby, you enter into a relationship with one,” she said.