Welcome to Influencers, our annual series that speaks with the heads of retailers, suppliers and industry bodies to find out what is happening in appliances and electronics and how different companies are shaping its future.
Mark Pacey is the Chief Operating Officer at Fisher & Paykel Australia, marketers of the F&P, Haier, Elba and DCS brands. He explained how this multibrand strategy is starting to bear fruit in this highly competitive industry.
How has the first half of 2014 been for your business?
We have a portfolio of brands that we are working with in this market and leveraging all of these brands and maximising the benefit for our global business is, and remains to be, our key focus for 2014. We released more than 70 new products last year for the F&P brands’ suite of products and, on the back of this, we have generated some very positive results in early 2014, and we are excited to set increasing optimistic goals for the remainder of the year.
The Haier brand has also seen positive sales figures and with impending new product releases and a new brand campaign build, we have every reason to feel confident.
In Australia, we will bring all brands together to realise the goals we continue to set for the company.
What are your predictions for the second half of the year?
It would be a real advantage if you could accurately predict consumer behaviour beyond now. We have a great team of people across our organisation that is continually looking for insight within market trends so that we can get it just right with our business offering. It is about matching those trends with being in the right place at the right time with the right product.
There is optimism around the housing industry being a ‘good news story’, with some stronger activity emerging with housing start figures and, with an unchanging low interest rate level, there could be an opportunity to generate some positive business. You have to be optimistic and work towards plans to generate return and that is what we are doing across our portfolio of brands for the rest of 2014.
What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?
Teach the consumer something different — not just different, but different and good or different and exciting — something that challenges their thinking. Have different conversations that get them to realise the value that we as an industry can offer them.
What threats are currently present in the industry?
You only have to look at the changing and ageing population to see consumer trends have changed and how they are engaged (or not engaged!) provides a real threat to retailers and suppliers alike.
Gen Y — a growing part of the population — has differing demands to that of their parents — baby boomers — and they are now setting up homes that will provide a demand for consumer goods, similar to their parents 25 years ago…but are we thinking about selling to them as we have their parents?
Australian retailers need to engage consumers’ attention with new concepts across an increasingly borderless and competitive home appliance marketplace. Consumers know so much more than they used to that, by the time they are ready to purchase, there is only one thing left to do: challenge on price!
It has to be more than that. Why do people want to buy a product or a brand? And how do we teach them more than they seemingly already know? Answer these questions and some risks/threats may be mitigated.
What is your favourite product of 2014 so far?
Last year, around this time, we were excited about the upcoming release of the Fisher & Paykel 60-centimetre Built-in Oven range. This was going to see the F&P kitchen rise to the next level. Twelve months on and we are extremely pleased to have the product released and the performance is everything we expected it to be. We just have to make more of it!
We have connected to the users of this product with a level of confidence that will continue with successful outcomes.
On the Haier front, we are looking forward to building on the well-appointed and energy-leading 3-star French Door refrigerator product that was released last year.
That has been successful to-date in 2014 and to surround it with further products to complement this beautiful product this year is something we look forward to realising.
In an unrelated category, for the running/triathlon enthusiast amongst us the Hoka One One trail running shoes are my favourite product for 2014. They are ultra-comfortable and a blessing to the knees!