Samsung’s whitegoods boss talks new products and the challenges ahead

By Claire Reilly

Following the launch of Samsung’s new Smart Series Refrigerator and Air Conditioner line-up, Current.com.au spoke to the head of home appliances at Samsung Electronics Australia about the company’s strategy for whitegoods and appliances.
In part two of this special two-part interview, Lilly looks back on the successes of 2012 and discusses Samsung’s product pipeline for 2013 as well as what the appliance retail industry can expect next year.

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Current.com.au: What products have performed well for Samsung in 2012?

Mike Lilly: Our French doors have worked for us extremely well this year, particularly the larger-capacity French door – the SRF801. It’s all of our great technology in this product which looks great, so that’s something that’s worked out for us. Our front-load washers this year, generally, have also performed exceptionally well. We’ve had fantastic growth in that category. We launched new products mid-year, we improved the feature set and they’re now selling extremely well. So those are the two areas for us.

C: Can you trace the success of these categories to broader consumer trends?

ML: With the French Door, it’s definitely about useable space and ease of use, because entertaining has become very important. Our consumers have more money to spend than ever, they’re just not doing it in certain areas. But they’re entertaining at home because they’re trying to save some of their cash, so the French Door is important. With washing machines, durability is a major concern for consumers. When we launched the 10-year warranty across the range – and now we have an 11-year warranty – that’s had a big impact on our sales as well. And also bigger-capacity washing machines; we’re seeing growth in that above 9-kilogram segment, because more washing in one load means better efficiency and use.

C: What products can retailers expect to see from Samsung next year?

ML: I think there’s still going to be a shift to the premium end of the spectrum. In the first quarter we’re launching a new high-end French door, as well as a whole new range of top-mount refrigerators. Top mount is still the biggest part of the market, and we’ve still got that support there for it, so we need to make sure that’s looked after as well. And then we’ve also got a Wi-Fi front-loading washer for the first quarter of next year.

C: What are your expectations for appliance and electrical retailing in 2013?

ML: Appliances are going to get more competitive next year. There’s been a lot of change this year, both in supply and retail. This year we saw appliances make up the biggest portion of the consumer electronics market. And I think next year is going to bring the same challenges, but as a brand, we’re still very much committed to investing in new product and bringing new product to market.

C: If you could chat to retailers and give them tips on selling to consumers, what would they be?

ML: To me, products need to be sold based on convenience. There’s a lot of great technology out there in home appliances, and people are willing to purchase based on the benefits that they get from that technology, so that needs to be sold properly. The first thing to do is ask the consumer why they’re buying. Assess what they want a product for, and then sell to that need. That way everyone’s happy and the consumer gets what they want.

Read Part One of this interview "Samsung's whitegoods boss talks connected appliances and retail strategy"

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