New Braun and Oral-B boss outlines future business strategy

By James Wells

SYDNEY: Newly-appointed brand manager for Braun, Oral-B and Duracell, Flavio Palumbo, has advised Australian retailers to steer away from gimmick-driven products and respect branded small appliances which provide profit through investment in research and development.

Adelaide-born Palumbo, who is working in the local small appliance industry for the first time after three years with Gillette UK, believes there are several differences between the two markets.

“Without being too critical, there a lot of products on the Australian market that you know won’t be around in a year’s time as they are trying to capture a trend,” Palumbo told current.com.au.

“I have noticed that the UK market is a lot more traditional in the sense that new products don’t need to be gimmicky. In selling to a UK consumer, it is a case of – ‘just give me the basic look and make it look nice, but I want the product to be top performance’.”

Palumbo, who is based at the Procter & Gamble offices at Rydalmere in Sydney, says he respects the market leaders in the small appliance category in Australia – Sunbeam and Breville – including their investment in research and development.

“There are some very strong companies in this market that have strong equity with Australian consumers that do not exist in the UK. Over there it is either quality products or cheap products, whereas here there is a spectrum which will keep us on our toes and drives the industry as whole.

“[Like Sunbeam and Breville], we are keen to communicate the message of the Braun heritage in design and innovation by following long term consumer trends and complementing this with product performance. We are interested in the long term future of categories which is not achieved by slashing the price.”

Palumbo has confirmed he will maintain or increase the marketing investment the hero products in the Braun and Oral-B electrical appliance categories.

The most recent product released has been the 360 Complete shaver from Braun which succeeds the Activator.

“We launched the Activator last year and then launching the 360 a year later doesn’t normally happen at the top end of the male shaving market. This new product is all about improving its performance in all areas and it’s not just about putting on a new attachment.

In the food preparation category, Braun will continue to support its Multiquick product platform.

“Hand blenders have gone from an area where it is not just a stab blender – it is now a food processor. The ice crushing functionality, when communicated correctly to consumer, is very important and provides an enormous amount of versatility in preparing meals.”

Other hero products include the recently-released Oral-B Triumph and the X’elle epilators.

Palumbo believes the brand has an opportunity to explain the benefits in its products derived from a substantial investment in research and development within its German factories.

“There are literally thousands of little things that we need to do to create good products that often consumers don’t know is there. We need to communicate that a bit stronger, as sometimes consumers see two products on the shelf and it looks like they have the same functions, but one is half the price. Our products will continue to be marketed towards the premium end of the market as they are worth paying more for and because these products are not off the shelf from China.”

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