“The Bimby Phenomenon” studied in Europe

European Sociological Association  | Conference Abstracts  |  September 2009

European Sociological Association

Thermomix watchers will be interested to know that when the European Sociological Association held its 9th annual meeting in Lisbon, Portugal (September 2009), two studies regarding the Sociology of Consumption were specifically focused on the Bimby/Thermomix phenomenon.

Though the abstracts are brief, we find it interesting to see that:  in Europe, as in other coutries, where the price of Thermomix is relatively high when compared against other kitchen appliances, the ownership of this machine crosses all economic groups. It seems that cost is not an obstacle, when the value of a product is so easily appreciated.

1) Cooking with Bimby: food practices, competences and kitchen technologies Presented by Monica Truninger (University of Lisbon)

“The Worwek’s webpage (a German company of kitchenware) proudly announces that every two minutes one Bimby is sold somewhere in the world. Bimby (also known as Thermomix) is a kitchen robot that promises to revolutionise the way we cook, learn about cooking, coordinate and time plan our food practices at home. It is a pricey multi-functional food processor, cooker, steamer and self-cleaner. In Portugal, despite the current economic crisis, 3945 of these robots were sold last December and current numbers indicate that there are around 80000 people in the country with one of these machines in their kitchens (Diário de Notícias, 11th January 2009). In 2008, there were 28500 new clients and increasing media coverage is likely to contribute to disseminate further this new fad. Renowned Portuguese chefs also endorse it and are often seen in TV programmes with one of these machines praising its time saving and convenience qualities.”

“The robot cannot be purchased in shops, it being directly sold by sales representatives that make a demonstration in future clients’ houses. These are usually social events where the host invites friends and family for a free meal produced in the blink of an eye by the robot, and in the presence of the marketer. Thus, these events mix economic and social elements, domestic and market spheres. The restricted circulation of this commodity makes it a very appealing object of material consumption, it being attached to signs of distinction, differentiation and ‘good taste’ (also reinforced by its sleek contemporary design). “

– read full abstract here >

2) The “Bimby phenomenon” and the change in food consumption lifestyles Presented by Claudia Valadas Urbano (New University of Lisbon, Portugal) and Nuno Jorge (Polytechnical Institute of Santarem Santarem, Portugal)

From the abstract:
“Bimby (known as Thermomix in several countries) is an electronic device that helps to produce full meals and is nowadays part of the lifestyle of a significant proportion of Portuguese population.”

“After a modernization of food, with McDonaldization and the empire of fast food, in a modern society of fast consumption and accelerated routines with outdoor meals, is Bimby creating a new indoor lifestyle? Which changes (will) these devices like Bimby produce in Portuguese food lifestyles? Will it be a consumption fever, or a trend, such as that occurred in the 1980s with blenders, machines to cut ham, and homemade bread mixers, which led many people to buy them despite their short use afterwards? These are some of the questions we would like to discuss with this paper.”

read full abstract here >

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