The US brand is under siege. Is anyone else worried about the future of the US?
I don’t mean in terms of which candidate you support in the upcoming election. There are sane people on both sides of that debate. I’m talking about the very fabric of what it means to be a citizen of the US brand. An American.
At our root, we claim to be a nation bound by a Constitution that dictates our civil behavior. Since the election of Washington until Lincoln, every election has been followed by a peaceful transition of power. It is what it means to be an American.
The one time that process failed was in 1860 and it resulted in a bloody war that ended in the complete defeat of those that opposed union. The debate for peaceful transition had been decided once and for all with an anything but peaceful five years of blood soaked division. I believe, despite all of the posturing today, that this election will also be a peaceful transition of power from the incumbent to the newly elected leadership.
The US brand has been under siege in the past
I don’t think I am alone in looking back upon the last decade with a bit of distain. Our national genius for compromise has been replaced by vitriol and obstruction. When FDR was first elected, humorist Will Rogers said, “Well, if he gets to the White House and it catches fire and burns to the ground, we will say at least he got something started.” Just like Will, I have become weary of partisan posturing and I want to get SOMETHING done.
My worry is not over the election itself, although the personal attacks are hard to hear. After all, one of these two candidates will be our next President. In many ways, I would love to hear what each candidate will do to help our country if they lose. My sincere hope is that either candidate will try their best when elected. That is the minimum I think we can expect. The rest is just politics.
What REALLY worries me about the US brand? A fear that, as a nation, we might be ungovernable in the future. A large percentage of those that are voting say they do not trust the information published from our government. They do not trust what they read in the news and they do not trust our elective process. I then wonder how they plan on making America Great Again or becoming Stronger Together?
If you don’t read the news, where are you getting your information? If you don’t believe anything the government says or publishes and don’t believe in the right of the majority to rule— well you don’t believe in our Constitution.
I can’t wait to read comments on this post. In the past, my worst fears have been realized in those comments. Aggressive and hateful bloggers post comments that prove my point. They did not read what I had to say.
Until we address the basic problem, which is IGNORANCE, we have a broken system with broken constituents. Just remember that the root of the word ignorant means to IGNORE.
The US brand. What is the United States of America? was last modified: October 25th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
Today’s marketing messages take on many forms – better, safer, longer lasting, friendlier or cheaper. Or it can take on the form of more as in more value or the most legroom in economy class or even as best as in the best in class customer service.
It is remarkable at just how many brands still rely on these kinds of marketing messages that are simply not believable to sell their wares.
Most people today have a bank account that you access online. To hear banks say it, they have better online banking or the best mobile app. All of them claim some form of best but how does a consumer know that’s true? It’s difficult to compare one versus the other because banks typically don’t allow you to use their services until you are an account holder. So given that, coupled with the fact that all banks claim to have better online services, are any of the statements true? How do prospective consumers know, particularly if they are happy with their current online banking? (The definition of a switching trigger is switching for something you don’t already have.)
For the most part, online banking is now just part of banking – everyone has it and everyone does it pretty well. Pretty well is used here rather than great because, in banking, pretty well is enough as the hassle to switch banks is so high. And research clearly shows that a customer has to be basically beyond their wit’s end end to even consider switching.
This is the problem with most of marketing messages, not just with banks, but with the vast majority of brands. When brands claim to be better, the most, the best or whatever, the only time that can possibly be meaningful to a prospect is at the exact point of failure of the current brand. If these statements were so powerful than the best, measured by science, would always win and logic would dictate that there would be only one or two brands per category.
But we all know that is not the case.
As consumers decide which products and services to buy, they use any number of criteria to make their decision. Cost vs value figured into it, but even that is different for each individual. Marketers claim that they can measure this, but in truth this mix is as fluid as the ocean, ebbing and flowing with the tide. Much like today’s marketing messages, these marketers are simply measuring something that isn’t really there.
This is the rub of all of this, truth. Saying better, best and the like can actually be measured and, if truth actually mattered, it could be proven.
Something more powerful than truth in marketing messages
But there is something much more powerful than truth – belief. You see, beliefs do not have to be true to be powerful. They just have to be believed. Every war that has ever been waged in the world was based on a belief – religious, economic, social, you name it. Belief is something that people are willing to die and kill for. That’s how powerful belief is.
But most marketers forget, overlook or simply ignore the power of belief. They stop short and only look to satisfy simple wants and needs that are constantly in flux. While belief isn’t completely unwavering, it is much more cemented into the fabric of what make individuals individuals. At their core, beliefs guide us in almost every decision we make.
There are many different kinds of beliefs beyond those above that have been used as an excuse to wage war. Clearly that is the most extreme of examples. But there are beliefs that power our actions. Do you believe that time is your most valuable resource? Or do you believe that if you are not keeping up you are falling behind? Those are the kinds of beliefs that marketers must align their brand with.
If you believe that time is your most valuable resource, think about the decisions you make in your life and how they are a reflection of this belief. Are you constantly on the lookout for ways to save time or do things faster? Do you use products or services that help you achieve that? The answer is certainly yes.
The trick here is in identifying which belief or beliefs apply to your target audience, made up of your customers and, more importantly, those that do not currently use you. Then, you articulate that belief into a single emotionally intensive statement. This can never be about the brand itself. It is about those the brand wishes to influence.
Aligning your brand with a belief gives your brand gravitas and tells consumers who it is for and who it is not for, giving consumers a reason and true choice and why they should care about it in the first place. It makes being better even less important because the brand becomes about them. Consumers choose brands that they believe are a reflection of who they are, not brands who say best, friendly, cheap and the rest of the non-effective marketing messages.
The fallacy of today’s marketing messages was last modified: August 11th, 2016 by Corbin
It seems that Proctor and Gamble had very limited success with the venture so far. It seems counterintuitive that it would not work as expected. Consider this:
The P&G brand Pampers is able to target new moms and pregnant women on Facebook. The very audience it NEEDS to excite to purchase. Feels like a no brainer. But P&G found the resulting sales less than exciting. As a result, while not giving up on Facebook, P&G is going to increase its TV advertising next year.
What is missing in Facebook advertising?
In other words, Proctor discovered that broad based rather than strictly targeted ads work better. What it is not grasping fully is WHY.
For most of the marketing world, P&G wrote the book on branding. In fact, it doesn’t really understand brand very well. What it invented and took to the level of a science is brand management. The entire marketing focus is on brand teams and the tight relationship between the brand managers and the product.
The reason the Facebook initiative is not working all that well is because the types of advertising that marketers create on Facebook turn out to be product ads and not brand advertising. The snippets are akin to billboards. They focus on efficacy and pricing, not on branding.
I say this because contrary to what P&G has made into its culture, branding is not about the product or HOW it works. Branding is about WHY it matters to the target audience.
The greatest brands in the world are, at their core, a reflection of the customer they need to influence. The greatest promise that Pampers can make is not how dry the baby is when you use Pampers (after all, every disposable diaper keeps the baby dry). It is about WHO the mom IS when she uses Pampers. How a Pampers mom is different and better than those that use a different brand.
Think of Jif peanut butter. Sure it promises that it tastes more like fresh peanuts but the brand promise that choosey mothers choose Jif is the driver of preference. That’s the sort of brand message I am speaking of.
To make Facebook advertising work for marketers, they need to have a MORE emotional message than they do in virtually every other medium. Facebook users have the attention span of a gnat and you must grab them in the gut to get them to invest in a message more intrusive than a billboard or coupon.
If the medium is the message, then P&G must be better at selling the brand and not the product. It’s a brave new world of marketing and traditional advertising is becoming less effective. Advertisers struggle to become more effective and targeting sounds like the answer. It is.
But it requires a rethinking of what branding IS. The halls of P&G must stop harping on the agencies in the Proctor tent with the uniform call of “where is the demo” to an up-to-date demand of “where is the prospect’s emotional needs?”
Facebook Advertising. P&G Failure. was last modified: August 11th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
The world is changing rapidly and with it so are the tastes and preferences of consumers. New products, brands and technologies are creating entirely new demands from consumers. New wants and needs emerge while others wane. Everything from Brexit to the eminent failure of the Airbus A380 to the global Pokemon Go craze demonstrates just how malleable the preferences of consumers of all stripes really are.
Taco Bell now serves breakfast and McDonalds serves breakfast all day. One can go into the store and buy hard cider, hard lemonade, hard root beer and hard cream soda. Some cars now drive for us, refrigerators take pictures of their contents and your bed tells you how well you slept the night before. Consumers today thrive on the newest and latest, and enjoy inundating themselves in noise under the guise of making things easier. The only constant is change.
As the pace of change continues to hasten, what are companies to do? Should they be as malleable as the preferences of consumers? Should they be changing brands?
To properly answer that question, we have to once again remind ourselves of the difference between a company’s businesses and its brand. The business piece is easy. It’s what you do. In short, it’s the services you provide or the products you sell. Nike’s business is to sell athletic apparel and GEICO sells insurance.
Changing brands, the decision
Changing brands is a little more difficult. For some companies, brand is simply a logo. For the smarter company, it is the amalgamation of everything, including all operations. But that’s only part of the equation.
When brand is executed as it should it should be, the totality of everything an organization does comes in to play. This goes from R&D to customer service to sales and marketing to HR and everything in between. Understanding this is key to succeeding in an era of change, not just riding out the storm.
Brands too often today are responding to the nearly overwhelming changes in the market by drifting, often too far, from what has made them successful. We call this brand drift and, in a business environment where change is the rule of the day, it can be the wrong thing to do. Let the business adapt, innovate and change as market conditions demand organically.
This is not to say that good brands should avoid investing in monitoring their brand equities. Far from it. Brands should constantly be making sure, especially in times of great change, that their brands continue to be influential and resonate. Because in these times, consumers seek safe harbors. That is true of all human beings.
At Stealing Share, we create brands derived out of the beliefs and aspirations of your target customer, making it truly is a reflection of who your current and prospective customers are or aspire to be. If your brand does not truly do that, then changing brands is needed.
In this rapidly changing business environment, if you continue to do the good work of making sure your business has adapted to changing market forces, then we can help you create or modify your brand so that, no matter how much tastes change, your customers and prospects will remain true to your brand.
Changing brands in today’s fast-moving environment was last modified: August 3rd, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
Step into a Home Depot, hhgregg or any of the other big-box stores and you can see just how much space is devoted to selling and marketing major appliances. Lowes and Home Depot now account for the lion’s share of major appliance sales along with Best Buy. (Sears once the dominant player but that retailer blew it.)
These big box retail environments try to cram as many major appliances they can into their stores to reap the benefits of the high margins the major appliances provide.
These retail locations often have many different brands in an attempt to cover all bases. But how does a consumer decide on which brand to purchase?
Sometimes the reason to buy is to replace a worn-out or broken appliance. In many of those cases, consumers generally want the same brand to match their other household major appliances.
Others may have experience with a particular brand and still others know that they are simply in need of a new appliance.
Since there are some manufacturers that produce a number of brands (such as Whirlpool), do customers choose on the basis of manufacturer or brand? For the purposes of this study, we will only look at consumer brands, as marketing major appliances are based on brand not manufacturer.
What is important here is to look at the individual brands to get an understanding as to just how similar they all are and where there is room for them to improve.
What follows is a snapshot of where we see major appliance brands today.
The High-End/Premium Segment
First, let’s examine the high-end or premium segment. We won’t spend a whole lot of time on this segment only because they account for a very small percentage of major appliances sales in the US, though it is increasing.
Viking has fallen on hard times. Just a few years ago, Viking had a premium price point the quality of its products did not warrant. Issues, particularly with its wiring and general overall quality, plagued the company.
At that point in time, Viking was not manufacturing much of its appliance lines. In 2013, The Middleby Corporation acquired Viking and it has completely re-engineered the product lines.
Since then, Viking has regained some of its clout. But, as a brand, it is much need of repair.
Viking’s messages are expected, introducing the new Viking as something better. That is a defensive position against the competition.
Being better than what? Better than the way its appliances used to be or better than all other major appliances?
If it is the latter, that is not a claimable position because there is no opposite claim. Without an opposite claim in the market (“We’re worse!”), it does not provide a choice. For a brand to succeed, it must say who it is for and, often more importantly, who it is not for.
Miele is a German manufacturer with the themeline of Immer Besser, which means Forever Better. Like Viking, Miele talks about the product and not the user (big mistake). It’s still a pretty strong promise, as far as it goes.
It is a reminder that the product will actually be better forever and gives the consumer the confidence that they are always ahead in the technological changes in the market. That feeling – being with a winner – can be a strong claim. It suggests that you, the customer, is a winner by association.
The Wolf/Sub-Zero brand, with its characteristic red knobs and stainless steel finishes, has a pretty solid history of quality and performance – except when your built-in refrigerator needs repaired. The built-in workings of the appliances means repairing them is expensive and may require you to buy a whole new appliance.
That being said, Wolf talks about creating moments worth savoring. Is that about creating a moment or creating good food? From a brand perspective, it is a mixed message. Brand works best when it is single minded.
Make no mistake, the Wolf and Sub-Zero brands have generated growing awareness and preference. The red knobs of the Wolf major appliances and the stainless of the built-in refrigerators are iconic and the brand has been very successful in working with builders who specialize in high-end homes.
Thermador has been around for quite some time. It focuses on innovation, as there have been many in its history. One of its exclusive features is the 5-star burner design, which serves a functional and cosmetic purpose. Its tag line, real innovations for real cooks, does a decent job recognizing the customer but it stumbles because it is still about Thermador.
One of the problems with the position of innovation is that, with the speed of technological change, innovation has become a table stake in the category. This is particularly seen in major appliances on the next tier down.
There are refrigerators that are connected to the internet and can send pictures of their contents so you know what you need at the grocery store. Even washing machines now have two separate washing areas. While Thermador promises innovation in cooking specifically, that is still a table stake promise.
With ovens that can connect to your mobile devices and touch screen ovens, Jenn-Air looks just as innovative as Thermador. However, Jenn-Air leaves the consumer guessing as to what its brand actually means.
Jenn-Air says its brand is about “sophisticated design, innovative technology, and exceptional performance.” So in other words, it has high-end major appliances. Actually, that theme could really apply to any appliance brand as the emotional difference between them is slight.
Bosch is a bit of a tweener, falling both in the premium and mass-market segments. Some would argue that Jenn-Air might be in this spot as well. Bosch takes the same approach to its brand as does Jenn-Air, although it encapsulates it more clearly with “Invented for life.”
Bosch talks a little about its attention to detail and, much like Jenn-Air, says its major appliances represent, “uncompromising quality, technical perfection and maximum reliability.”
As a business, Bosch has done an excellent job in product performance, especially in its dishwashers and cooktops. Its dishwashers especially are viewed as some of the best on the market today.
There are a number of other high-end brands but all of them are much of the same. Brands like La Cornue, Bertazzoni, Gaggenau, True, Dacor and Aga Marvel tend to play in specific niches of this niche category, but their brand promises are very similar.
Other brands like Samsung, LG, Frigidaire Gallery and Professional, KitchenAid and Electrolux may have some products that are premium but, for the most part, they still mass market brands.
The sales process and what we know about premium major appliances brands
Looking at marketing major appliances in the premium or high-end category, there are a couple of things that stand out. For one, many attempt to differentiate with themes on design, the culinary experience, heritage and innovation. In other words, they all talk about the same things.
Their advantage is that consumers of premium major appliances are already predisposed to purchasing them. The premium appliance consumer is not one who, when the microwave breaks, heads to Home Depot to go get another one.
In a kitchen remodel, for example, a premium appliance consumer discusses appliance options with their designer or contractor who will lead them toward a particular brand or brands.
From the perspective of the premium appliance manufacturers, this is a terrible place to play in because they have no control. Marketing major appliances in this segment the brands cede control the contractor or designer.
There is little innate brand preference and that preference comes as a result of past experience with the brands. But that’s not stealing market share.
One thing is clear, premium appliance brands don’t know what drives customers to purchase their specific brands other than what drives a premium appliance customer to purchase ANY premium appliance brand – design, innovation, quality and cooking, if you go by what the market’s players say.
The Mass Market Segment
For the remainder of this study, we will look at marketing major appliances brands that are readily available, particularly in big box retail.
Samsung does have a premium-like line of major appliances called Chef Collection, but the vast majority of its sales are in mass market. It is a bit difficult for consumers to separate the Samsung appliance brand from the Samsung Electronics brand – especially since Samsung has used the same actors for both, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.
Samsung Electronics ad:
Samsung Washer ad:
Samsung is attempting to create a lifestyle. After all, Samsung can be used for everything from phones to major appliances. That is actually one of the things that makes it approachable. It’s clear that Samsung is leveraging its innovation-driven electronics brand to drive preference in the appliance market. It wants to be known as a technology expert.
The problem with this strategy is that a product failure, product substitution, or, more dangerously, a technology failure on either side hurts the Samsung brand as a whole.
And let’s be honest for a moment, when you see the washer ad, how innovative is it if you can add to a load mid-cycle? Top loading washers have had that capability for years. If you are really concerned about adding additional items, wouldn’t one just choose a top loader in the first place?
Samsung tells the consumer that its major appliances can handle anything you can throw at them. The messaging is all about what the major appliances can do with the single exception of the ranges in which the messaging shifts to what the consumer can do with the range.
Although Samsung blurs its electronics and major appliances brands, neither owns a distinct position in the market space. For the Samsung appliance brand, you get design, innovation and ease of use.
All are table stakes of the category. Nothing Samsung says is a true reflection of the customer or who the customer aspires to be when they use the brand.
LG feels very similar to Samsung but humanizes its brand when marketing major appliances through its Life’s Good tagline. While not highly emotional, the tag line does attempt to connect with the consumer as if to say, “If you believe life’s good, then LG is the brand for you.”
However, it is much more likely that the brand is really trying to convey, “With LG, life’s good,” making the brand more about LG than about the customer it wishes to influence.
You also recognize that it’s about the manufacturer and not the customer by the way that the initials of Life’s Good are LG. If noticed, then the line becomes non-believable. It’s becomes only clever.
Much like Samsung, LG talks about innovation, design and ease of use.
LG Twin Wash Commercial
However, in a bit of a non sequitur, LG also introduces a new concept of fitness meeting fashion. This is a web series with Malin Akerman where she talks about staying healthy while looking great. The videos are a minute and a half long and she spends less than 10 seconds, at the very end, talking about the washing machine. These videos are clearly aimed at women who might connect with her but they do little in terms of building the brand of LG.
LG Side Kick where fitness meets fashion:
Unlike Samsung, LG is trying to market by just being different. Differentiation in the marketing sense requires two things: being different and being better. Other than the loose tie with fashion and fitness, there is nothing in the LG brand that represents anything better.
GE has a number of sub-brands: Profile, Café, Artistry, and Monogram. All of these GE sub-brands cite design and style as differentiators but there are some other differences as well.
GE Artistry is the Target of the GE family of major appliances. It claims to be the height of appliance design and style, but it has stripped down all of the fancy features (like a timer on their range, for example) to give consumers major appliances that heat, clean, cool and cook.
Like the Target brand, GE is attempting to make GE Artistry cool, cheap and chic. It is a slight change in the marketing major appliances strategies.
This is a good example of an appliance brand understanding its consumer. There are many consumers who are just starting out, perhaps buying their first major appliances and who are drawn to a brand that enabled them to buy style without breaking the bank.
Below is a co-opted online ad of the GE Artistry series where the brand differentiators of cool, stylish and inexpensive are clearly laid out.
So the question is, does cool overcome cheap in major appliances? Major appliances by their very nature are meant to last for a considerable amount of time. With the GE Artistry sub-brand, at what point does the cool factor wear off?
While it may have a certain style today, appliance style may completely change in a matter of just a couple of years. For anyone thinking of an appliance that is supposed to last more than a couple of years, GE Artistry is probably not for them. From a brand perspective, the GE Artistry brand is often too of the moment.
The GE Café sub-brand claims to be restaurant inspired. GE Café is also the only one of the GE sub-brands that says anything about innovation. The intention of the GE Café brand in marketing major appliances is to be for the serious cook who needs the features and power of restaurant quality major appliances.
This first ad discusses the power and advanced cooking technology of the major appliances to take “food further.”
What is seriously wrong with this ad is that it gives no credit to the cook. The ad is about the major appliance. While it assumed that a consumer knows that major appliances alone can’t make food, the argument is backwards. “GE major appliances take food further.” Rather, the argument should be “If you are always looking to take food further, GE Café is designed for you.” Then it becomes a real reflection of who the consumer aspires to be.
Compare that with the ad below:
While this ad demonstrates the innovative feature of the Keurig brewing system, it portrays this innovation as something that’s normal. It just makes things easier and good enough for everyday (and extra special days). All the power and advanced cooking technology seen in the other ad, and what GE Café is supposed to be about, is completely gone. Now the GE Café brand is about ease of use and everyday cooking.
GE’s other brands, such as GE Monogram, GE and GE Profile, are about sophisticated style, craftsmanship and modern style, respectively. GE Monogram is meant to be GE’s high-end brand where the GE and GE Profile sub-brands are the everyman’s brand.
Instead of consumers identifying with a particular sub-brand of GE, they are stuck comparing features and price between the brands. There is no true preference.
That opens up the rest of the brands at Home Depot to the consumer’s considered set. The power GE thinks it is getting from differentiating its sub-brands actually makes the brands more suspect to competing non-GE brands.
In marketing major appliances, GE has tried to segment its market to the point where it is trying to be all things to all consumers. As such, it is for no one. GE wants to leverage the power of GE throughout all of its sub-brands but is depending too much on the consumer to be able to navigate them.
Walking into a Home Depot, for example, you can find all of these GE brands sitting together with price hangtags. There is nothing differentiating one from another thus canceling out any brand differentiation and reducing the individual power of marketing major appliances. How is the GE Café refrigerator that sells for $2700 any different than the GE Profile that sells for $2300? Standing in the store, is the GE Café brand worth $400 more without an ice and water dispenser?
Whirlpool has a bit more of a heritage than others, particularly in marketing major appliances. Its products promise innovation and design much like everyone else.
But the innovation and design come as a result of Whirlpool’s corporate position of making the most out of the moments that matter and innovation that develops at the pace of life.
Corporately, Whirlpool is focused on avoiding flash. Its major appliances are designed to be as easy and flexible as possible so that they do not impede running the house. Whirlpool understands that major appliances are simply tools to do tasks.
In this ad, Whirlpool credits consumers with taking care of their household, knowing that care can be messy. Then the ad posits how the product can help you “care.”
In this ad, the caring aspect of the brand is still present and is much less about the products than about the whole idea of caring. Whirlpool has successfully separated the product from the act of using the appliance in its strategy of marketing major appliances.
Just about anyone with children can think of a time where they were in a similar situation. Parents make lunches for their kids (yes even with cute notes) and they do laundry when a child falls in the mud or has an accident.
At those times, the appliance that keeps the food cold or washes the soiled clothes is irrelevant. It is everyone’s expectation that, when they go to the refrigerator to pull out the lunch meat or put a muddy shirt in the washing machine, that the food will be cold and the shirt will be clean.
These are table stakes of the entire appliance category. The brand of appliance does not matter.
In print, Whirlpool tries to convey the idea of being designed to simplify.
Whirlpool says its refrigerators are not simplified but that their refrigerators somehow make “your coolest creations simple.”
Whirlpool should certianly be commended for at least attempting to make its brand a reflection of the customer, but can a refrigerator make what a consumer wants out of its contents more simple?
While the brand of Whirlpool is certianly a feel-good kind of brand, it lacks a key ingredient to incite change in a behavior. It is not pursuasive.
The Whirlpool brand wants consumers to believe that choosing another appliance brand will get in the way of running the house and taking care of the family.
Unfortunately for Whirlpool, that simply is not true. Unless the appliance is broken, which happens to all major appliances, getting in the way of running the house is not a point of failure. All major appliances work and are easy to use.
KitchenAid is probably best known for its stand mixers and food processors. But it does have a full line of major kitchen major appliances as well.
Its brand is for those who create, paying homage to the users of the appliance for their ability to create. KitchenAid does bring the consumer into its brand, probably better than the rest of the competitive landscape. The spot demonstrates that the user has more control over creating even better dishes with the KitchenAid line of products.
KitchenAid backs up those statements with the table stakes of design, performance and features to back up this idea. The important part is that the main themes are the reasons for preference and, therefore, make the table stakes more important.
Maytag was once the king of marketing major appliances. There was a time when Maytag had a single message represented by a single iconic figure, the lonely Maytag repairman.
Jesse White was the original “loneliest guy in town” and that campaign went on for nearly 50 years. As everyone knows, the Maytag repairman was so lonely becase he had nothing to do – Maytag washers and dryers, and other major appliances, were so dependable that they did not need repairing.
In 2014, Maytag shifted their approach to the Maytag repairman:
The more active repairman is no longer a repairman. Rather, he represents the “hardworking hum of a Maytag home.”
Maytag once owned the whole idea of dependable in marketing major appliances. In much of the same way that Volvo once owned the idea of safety, Maytag very successfully owned what is supposed to be a table stake value.
However, as competitors’ products became more reliable, Maytag shifted its once iconic position.
While the concept of dependability is not as pronounced as it once was, it is still tightly woven into the fabric of Maytag, at least in words. It talks about its products as being “All kinds of (insert kitchen product category), one kind of dependable” or “You can’t have delectable without dependable.”
What is odd is that Maytag has nearly dropped all references to dependable in its print ads, with its washers and dryers and kitchen major appliances, instead focusing on best-in-class cleaning and hard work. It is a change fir them in the strategy of marketing major appliances
Even the print ads are missing the idea of dependability.
The equity of dependability is gone. It is is now simply nostalgic.
Maytag has diluted its brand with the repurposing of the Maytag repairman. Because dependability is now a table stake, it was right to step away from it. However, Maytag has landed in a spot that is unemotional (although quirky).
We can combine these brands because there is so little difference between them and they are part of the same company. For the most part, Electrolux, the parent company, makes the same products for both then labels them differently even though there isn’t much difference between them in the first place.
The Fridgidaire/Electrolux brand as it currently stands is about time savings.
It has attempted to demonstrate how all of their kitchen major appliances can save their owners time, either with stainless steel that reduces fingerprints, faster preheating or a dishwasher that has more water coverage.
However, while time savings may not be completely applicable to a smudge proof refrigerator, Fridgidaire/Electrolux does a good job with living up to that promise with its washing machine, which can clean a load in 20 minutes.
From a brand perspective, the question is, “Is time savings a brand or a characteristic of a brand?” Further, is it the single most emotionally intensive thing that could be said to get a consumer to consider the Fridgidaire/Electrolux brand? What makes marketing major appliances effective?
To answer the first question, the idea of time-savings is not really true to all of Frigidaires products. Its gas cooktops don’t boil water faster, its microwaves don’t cook faster and its refrigerators don’t cool faster.
Secondly, do consumers who purchase Frigidaire products see themselves as someone who saves time or do they buy them because they believed they were the best value? Or do they believe that the product has the most features?
In marketing major appliances, there are other brands – Kenmore, Hotpoint, and Amana for example (all manufactured by Whirlpool). Hotpoint and Amana are low-priced value brands. Kenmore, once highly sought after, has become an also ran in this category, partly because of Sears/Kmart’s struggles and very limited distribution.
Summary of Marketing Major Appliances
What have we learned about marketing major appliances? It’s pretty easy to divide the category into two – high-end major appliances and mass market. Brands have a distinct fit in to each of these very broad categories.
After that, things get pretty murky.
Marketing major appliances in the high-end segment, brands talk a lot about luxury, innovation and creating an experience. There are varying degrees but thematically each of them fall here. In effect, all of the high-end brands are claiming table stake values.
What the premium appliance brands have in their favor is that there are fewer of them to choose from, so each can have a bigger piece of the market share pie than their mass market brethren.
The high-end appliance brands work very closely with builders, interior designers and architects to build a relationship with the brand. Secondly, these brands either have a dedicated sales force or are sold only in stores that sell other high-end brands, making the sales force more knowledgable about each brand. The caveat to both of these advantages is that the brands are giving up control to a third party to sell their major appliances.
In marketing major appliances in the mass market, the story is even bleaker. The mass market brands have done a poor job in creating differentiation. The brands have nothing to do with the user and instead are all about the major appliances.
On the other hand, some brands attempt to own a table stake of the entire appliance category – innovation, design, style, it cools, it heats, it washes, etc. In effect, the mass market brands are trying to convince consumers to buy their brands simply because they are major appliances.
Further, there are any number of retail outlets selling one, two or all of the mass market brands. The brands are mixed up on the floor with specific major appliances grouped together. Consumers are then forced to make decisions on the brand of appliance based on features and price.
Even if a consumer has a preference for a particular brand, with all of the brands present, that preference could easily be overcome by a feature or a sale on another brand. That’s because in the marketing of major appliances, brands themselves have not given anyone a real reason to choose.
Sure, appliance manufacturers and brands are likely saying, “Oh, we are the best designed, we have a washing machine that you can add to mid-cycle, or we make our major appliances easy to use and clean.” But again, those do not create preference. They should be the supporting points for an emotional brand that creates loyal customers.
Like Electrolux/Frigidaire’s attempt to capitalize on the idea of saving time or Maytag’s durability claims, it should be woven into everything the brand is and does.
This does not just apply to the mass market brands. The high-end brands should also take note. As this space becomes more and more crowded, the survival of all appliance brands may depend on it.
There is a better way
When marketing major appliances brands that can connect with and be a reflection of the consumers will have a distinct advantage in this category. In marketing major appliances, it would drive preference if a brand could give consumers the answer to, “Who am I when I use this appliance brand?”
This answer must come directly from the consumer’s beliefs not simply a fulfillment of a passing want or need. Beliefs are powerful. They are not transient but rather enduring guideposts that influence each and every decision we as human beings make everyday.
When brands are really derived from belief, not just wants and needs they have the DNA of the consumer built in them and resonate on such an emotional level that choosing a different brand would be akin to emotional suicide – a consumer would actually be choosing against who they believed they are or aspire to be.
Its easy to satisfy a want or need there are many options with many substitutes.
Aligning with a belief, now that is something different and in marketing major appliances, brands would be wise to pay attention, because the opportunity is there to steal market share.
Marketing Major Appliances – A Market Study was last modified: August 4th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
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