Electrolux as a modern idea

The Electrolux Logo showed its age

Electrolux appliances
The Electrolux Logo showed its age

Electrolux is back in the news because Keith McLoughlin, CEO has resigned after the GE deal collapsed.

Electrolux updated logo
Electrolux Updated

Electrolux was in the throes of purchasing the appliance division of GE when the US Justice Department blocked the deal. Do you have any idea what has been going on with Electrolux recently?

The Electrolux canister vacuum
The iconic Electrolux

If you are like me, your memories of the Electrolux brand is limited to the old tubular canister vacuum cleaner that my grandmother favored. It was relatively small and was pulled around behind the vacummer on the floor on sled-like runners. What was once viewed as modern quickly looked dated as the old logo absolutely showed its age. If you asked me what else the company made beyond vacuum cleaners, I would be hard pressed to provide much of an answer.

Electrolux competition
It is a crowded field

However, the Swedish company has been on a rampage of new innovations in appliances— moving into the high-end markets dominated by Wolf, Viking, JENNAIR and BOSCH.

Electrolux Innovated

Electrolux scrapped its old logo, updated its graphics and decided to concentrate on the more lucrative kitchen appliance market. It is a crowded category to be sure but Electrolux pushed the envelope in design, features and ergonomics. However, if you asked consumers to name the top brands in kitchen appliances I fear the Electrolux would rarely been in the considered set (we always conduct research when working on brands and rebranding). They might buy the products when actively shopping for upgrades but it is a learned preference. One that comes only from hands-on comparisons. The brand itself is easily overlooked.

Electrolux kitchen appliances
Current Electrolux products are surprising

The reason for this consumer omission is in the name itself. While the logo and graphics have been updated the name is eponymous. As a result, it has a meaning that sounds like the 1940s. Electric Luxury. It piques the idea that electric is modern. The whole idea seems OLD. Only a few of us can remember mechanized carpet sweepers or hand powered hand mixers. Electricity is just a given and provides no space between Electrolux and the competitive set.

Electrolux expressionist collection
Clean and elegant design in today’s Electrolux

The ultimate success of this otherwise innovative company will be in trying to get us to forget the name’s meaning and accepting it as a whole. Electrolux needs us to leave emotional attachments behind and to forget what we already think we know.

The Electrolux brand took such major leaps in the stable of products and offerings that it carried forward very little in established brand equity. Had we been asked to rebrand the company during this monumental transition, I think we would have suggested a name change. Brand repair is a more difficult task then developing brand meaning.

Opportunity for Electrolux beyond acquisition

Its not too late. Rebranding the products would make the purchase of the GEs of the world a mute point. This forward-thinking brand could take that market share in its own right. No need to purchase the market. The brand itself could generate powerful preference on its own.

Below are more articles and blogs that you might find of interest.

Small Kitchen Appliances (Coffee makers)

Single Cup Coffee Makers

How to use your brand to increase preference

Coming soon: Amazon’s Pantry

Amazon seems to be all the rage these days. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, pronounced on 60 Minutes that it would be delivering product by drones in the near future. (We are doubtful.) During this holiday season, Amazon is top of mind for just about everybody – and used by just about every adult to get that important gift to the front door.

Now comes word that Amazon will be taking on Sam’s Club and Costo by offering bulk household items just like you’d find at one of those discount warehouses. A handful of e-tailers have discussed adding this model, but they found that customers often just buy one item where the cost of shipping is more than the cost of the item itself.

ku-xlargeThere is reason for Sam’s Club and Costco to be concerned, though. Amazon has the infrastructure to make this work and, as pointed out here, customers of Sam’s Club and Costo tend to be higher income households with kids which are similar to those who use Amazon the most. In addition, Amazon is using a minimum order model to ensure costs of shipping are in control.

There’s also the brand permission issue. This is what Amazon does. Gets products where it needs to go efficiently and completely. The Pantry, as Amazon is calling this service for Prime members, already has a loyal audience to try it.

I can see Sam’s Club and Costco responding with their own upgraded, online efforts. In addition, they still have the advantage of the immediacy of shopping at their stores, especially for perishable items.

However, shopping at either of those retailers is a miserable experience. It feels degrading with that big warehouse, a huge shopping cart and we all feeling like gluttons.

Shopping from the convenience of your laptop is nicer, easier and more pleasant than that. The Pantry will work.

Single cup coffee makers are taking over

In the small kitchen appliance category, there has only been one winner of late: Single cup coffee makers.

You all know what I’m talking about as a third of adult Americans have one either at home or work, according to a report from Packaged Facts.

Sales are skyrocketing. They increased a whopping 82% last year and the single cup coffee makers have developed into a multi-billion dollar industry.

single cup coffee makerThe boom is the result of an innovation that plays on convenience and quality as the pods themselves have produced more sophisticated coffee that tastes like what you’d get at your nearest Starbucks. (In fact, Starbucks has its own line of coffee single-cup pods.)

But for the small kitchen appliance category as a whole, the single-cup coffee maker is really on the only winner out there. The rest of those appliances, such as mixers, toaster ovens and microwaves, have hit a wall.

Innovation is needed, but innovation doesn’t come from tweaking or figuring out what the engineers can do. It comes from having a brand that means something more to the target audience than just product features. If, just to use an example, your brand is about simplicity, then your innovation should always be pointed to achieving that goal. Pretty soon, you’ve come up with the equivalent of a single cup coffee maker.

It’s that simple. Innovation for the rest of the small kitchen appliance category can keep up with the cup of Joe’s.

How about this Swiffer ad strategy?

I just read this and needed to share it…

Swiffer Pulls Ad Showing ‘Rosie The Riveter’ Icon Doing Chores

By Laura Stampler from Business Insider

Swiffer got in trouble for its reinterpretation of WW2 symbol Rosie the Riveter by recreating her image in an ad for house cleaning supplies.

News outlets noticed when Heather Beschizza tweeted the ad she found in a Sunday newspaper insert.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.50.42 AMAs Emma Gray at The Huffington Post writes, ” When Westinghouse Electric told U.S. women,  “We can do it!,”  to boost worker morale in 1943, we’re pretty sure they didn’t have household chores in mind.”

The Twitterverse did not react well to the campaign:

Understanding that it’s best to get in front of a public relations crisis on social media, Swiffer immediately started tweeting apologies.

Swiffer probably didn’t expect a print insert ad to go this viral. The company even bought a promoted tweet to make sure that word got out that it is changing the ad.

I don’t think I have ever heard of a brand so afraid of controversy that it allowed Twitter to direct its advertising strategy. I thought viral ads were exactly the point in the unpersuasive world of social media?

Keep everything in alignment, Swiffer. This action is proof point that your brand is not for tough chores or serious clean up.

Keep up the visionary good work. Run from any controversy and try to dumb down your product by underestimating the historical fabric of your users.

Rosie the Riveter is indeed too good for your brand.

Has anybody seen Oreck?

I remember when Oreck was the premium player in the vacuum cleaner business. The company even had its own retail stores. But it never developed a sticky brand.

OreckNow, it has filed for Chapter 11 protection and is on a familiar spiral into the world of forgotten and irrelevant brands.

Oreck gave away brand leadership

Oreck marketed its vacuums as being lightweight and the favorite of hotel professionals. Both ideas, however, are from a distant era when many thought brand was built around a single unique feature and an endorsement.

The unique feature has moved on. Weight no longer matters. Bagless machines with cyclonic action are hot right now.  Some manufacturers – Dyson, for instance – recognize that even mundane vacuum cleaner purchases carry a personal brand value both in terms of its personality and design. Design is worth paying for and is something customers will covet.

I remember Oreck well. To bad it never asked me to care.