Opinion by Patrick Avenell
It amazes me that despite every home in the western world containing a plethora of small and major appliances, not a single company with appliance manufacturing as its primary function has appeared in either the BrandZ or Interbrand Top 100 brand rankings.
Several diversified companies with an appliance arm, such as Samsung, Siemens, GE, Philips and Panasonic, made one or both lists, but this was mostly due to these companies exposure to digital and telecommunications products.
Even Malboro, suppliers of a deadly addictive product, made the Top 10 of the BrandZ list, further furrowing my brow.
Across the appliance spectrum, a number of brands stand out as having higher recognition, a better reputation, a greater share of voice and all the other abstractions that conflate to become brand equity.
Here is my list of the Top 10 Best Appliance Brands in Australia:
The Japanese air conditioner company has done a tremendous job marketing itself as “Australia’s Favourite Air”, with Mark ‘Tubby’ Taylor’s enthusiasm supported by a decade at the top of the sales charts. In addition to this inseparable brand marriage, Fujitsu General has strengthened its market penetration through the sponsorship of Garry Rogers Motorsport Fujitsu Racing in the V8 Supercars.
Although the Swedish brand has passed into Slovenian hands, ASKO retains strong mindshare in the wet appliance categories. While many, many rivals struggle with dishwasher and laundry recalls, ASKO’s record has been unblemished. The release of niche appliances, such as an outdoor dishwasher and an asthma and allergy washing machine, has further cemented its position.
The full impact of Haier’s acquisition of Fisher & Paykel has yet to be realised – will Chinese ownership lead to a depreciation of affection for the second most famous New Zealand brand in history (after the All Blacks)? Or does nobody care about these things anymore? What we do know is that F&P are moving quickly up the positioning ladder, releasing the stylish Companion Range and investing in research and development. A premium presence in the two billion-people-plus markets is another winning move.
The second Swedish name on this list, Electrolux has leveraged its Tetsuya and Quay partnerships brilliantly, creating the idea that this is the brand the best chefs use at home. Among its brand mates, it may not be as voluminous as Westinghouse or as premium as AEG, but it is the flagship for that convoluted brand house – a job it performs well, both in major appliances and floorcare. The challenge is to translate this goodwill into ironing, coffee machines and hand mixers.
Rather than having these three take up separate spots on the list, I’ve conflated them into one entry. All three fall under the auspices of De’Longhi Australia, the latest brand powerhouse on the block, and one of the most creative and successful marketers in the industry. By sponsoring South Sydney while they were struggling, De’Longhi can now bask in its top-of-the-table success without being accused of opportunism. Kenwood is an iconic British brand that is a synecdoche of the best kitchen machines available. Braun has had a few quiet years locally – something that will no doubt change under De’Longhi’s tutelage.
The best Italian cooking brand in Australia — no doubt about it. Having first come to these shores 30 years ago, Smeg has survived distribution changes, in-fighting and an influx of Italian rivals to maintain its proud position as Italy’s finest. The FAB Fridges, Marc Newson series and 1950s range are all distrinctive pieces that fit together to create the Smeg brand experience, meaning the company has never had to rely on ‘Italian-ness’ as its marketing lever.
‘Immer Besser’ is German for ‘Forever Better’. It takes a certain chutzpah to retain a foreign language slogan in the Australian market — Miele can do it because it has spent decades and millions of dollars creating a rich tapestry of engineering, quality, design and appearance attributes — so much so that it is the go-to brand for architects when advising well-minted home builders and the Gourmet Traveller-reading A/B customers so prized by upmarket brands. The impending release of Generation 6000 will have Miele challenging for the Top 3.
The Apple of vacuum cleaners. Not only do journalists love comparing the design, performance, positioning and philosophy of Dyson to Apple, so too do Dyson engineers. Both companies are the embodiment of a charismatic leader’s personal quest, not just to make money and be successful, but to create products that truly make our lives easier. The expansion out of floorcare and into seasonal and hand-dryers has only added to this brand story. As a result, Sir James Dyson is as close to a rock star as this industry as ever seen.
While the 1932 Melbourne Cup was stopping a nation, Harry Norville and Bill O’Brien were creating what would become Australia’s most loved home-grown appliance brand. After flirtations with radios and personal care, Breville settled on small appliances as its core competency, before adding manual coffee machines to complete an impressive product cache. Breville does the simple things right, like giving each of its products a meaningful name (rather than a bland product code), having a beautiful website and delivering a consistent brand message (‘Food Thinkers’).
What else? Not every company can afford George Clooney as its brand ambassador. But then not every company could maximise that association so well. The upmarket closed capsule coffee system, a division of Swiss FMCG behemoth Nestle, struck appliance gold by marketing itself as a luxury lifestyle club that you can join for only $250. Smartphone apps, high street boutiques, an optimised website and a club hotline make Nespresso eminently accessible, while finely crafted accessories, delicious blends and divine packaging make it as irresistible as a morning cup of coffee on a busy day.
I am very interested to find out what our readers think of this list. Are there brands I have missed? Please feel free to write your thoughts in the box below.