- There are now so many different styles and designs in portable cooling that there is surely something for everyone, from traditional fans with blades to Air Multipliers at the forefront of technology.
- There is a much greater focus on styling a portable cooler to match existing homewares. A customer may be willing to spend more to match existing décor, provided they are aware of the options.
- Shhhh! Noise reduction is a major focus for suppliers this years — fans are definitely getting quieter!
On 19 August 2009, I arrived at Dyson’s Australian head office in Taren Point, in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, expecting the former MD Ross Cameron to unveil a new model of vacuum cleaner. The stick-vac craze was just about to explode and in the United Kingdom, Dyson had already showcased the new Digital Slim that would go on sell thousands of units.
On the table in Dyson’s inconspicuous boardroom was an oddly shaped construction — thin in profile but with a wide, curved head when viewed front on — about 75 centimetres tall, draped in a white sheet. Ross Cameron was a big believer in offering consumers a quality product at a price commensurate to the amount of money invested in developing the technology; a man cut from txxhe same cloth as Sir James Dyson himself. He said Dyson would soon be entering a new category, that its product would be 10 times more expensive than the average sales price and that this new appliance was a complete departure from anything we’d seen previously.
Cameron then pulled away the sheet to reveal a newfangled model: a grey vertical cylinder in the base topped with an expanse of blue circle facing me like an enormous, hollowed out lollipop. My first though was that Dyson was releasing a Bluetooth speaker. Or was a new type of TV antenna technology, but surely that’s not in Dyson’s wheelhouse!
“It’s a seasonal product,” Cameron said as a smile broached his otherwise stern visage. It was Dyson’s original bladeless fan, the AM01.
The five intervening years have seen Ross Cameron retire, Glenn Andrew take over, and the Air Multiplier become an iconic design for Dyson. No longer the novelty form factor of those first few months, the Bladeless Fan has become a runaway sales success, making the English company a value leader in cooling categories worldwide. One of my stories, perhaps apocryphal, tells of the veterinarian who could finally cool his office-cum-surgery using an Air Multiplier. He had previously tried using a fan but had unfortunately lost a pet bird to their murderous blades.
For the upcoming summer, Dyson is undertaking a regeneration of its seasonal range. Already a winner at the 2014 Good Design Awards, where it was named Best in Category for Domestic Appliances, the new range is being styled as ‘Dyson Cool’ and there are three models: AM06 (RRP $449), AM07 (RRP $649) and AM08 (RRP $649).
“With the launch of our next generation Dyson Cool range we hope to inject excitement into the cooling category and help bring new customers into the market,” said Dyson Australia MD Glenn Andrew. “With significant engineering improvements to the product acoustic levels and power efficiency, the new Dyson Cool range caters to customers who desire a quiet and powerful cooling product in an elegantly designed form factor.”
The new range is being launched this month with a comprehensive promotional campaign, encompassing TV and digital advertising, public relations, social media, in-store point-of-sale, retail stand activations and consumer events. Andrew said the two main touchstones for this campaign will be the Dyson Cool’s quietness and efficiency.
“Some fans are quiet but weak, while others are powerful yet noisy,” he said. “Customers are now looking for something that can be both powerful yet still quiet to operate. The new Dyson Cool fans now offer the best of both worlds.
“Power efficiency is also an important consideration for customers as it determines the total cost of ownership over the life of a product. By improving the power consumption of our products we can help reduce the on-going energy costs for our customers.”
Andrew said the new range has a 75 per cent noise reduction and consumes 40 per cent less power, compared with previous models.
Adam Tacey, Kambrook business manager, has been checking with the Bureau of Meteorology and the forecast is that Australia is set to be visited again by El Niño.
“The onset of El Niño often brings below-average rainfall over southern and eastern inland areas of Australia and above-average daytime temperatures over the southern parts of the country,” Tacey explained. “With more consecutive hot days expected this summer, we can anticipate a dramatic spike in portable fan sales as Australians shop for quick and affordable ways to keep cool.”
Kambrook has two new models in its Arctic range of fans: a 40-centimetre pedestal fan (KPF443, RRP $89.95) and a 30-centimetre desk unit (KPF443, RRP $59.95).
“The Kambrook Arctic cooling range offers affordable and durable solutions for every home,” Tacey said. “Aesthetically, our two new gunmetal finish fans have retro appeal with all the added features you could want from a contemporary fan. Our Arctic tower fans are the slimline solution for those wanting a more modern look, including LED display and remote control options.”
Tacey said Kambrook would be promoting its new Arctic range across its ever-growing social media communities.
Nicole Norton, product marketing manager for heating and cooling at Sunbeam, has also been checking the weather forecasts and confidently prognosticates above average temperatures through spring and summer and below average rainfall.
“There is an upside to the long summers as they are producing longer selling seasons for fans,” Norton said. “GfK market data shows February and even March are still popular months for consumers to purchase fans.
With another hot summer expected, Norton said Sunbeam expects to see solid fan sales this year.
“Fans are a quick, effective and cost efficient way to cool the home and individual living spaces. Easily transportable around the house, they are a quick way to cool living areas then quietly cool bedrooms for a comfortable and long night’s sleep.”
Sunbeam’s range includes a Tower Fan with Night Mode (FA7250, RRP $99.95), a Pedestal Fan (FA8900, RRP $149) and a Retro Fan (FA7500, RRP $169).
Italian brand De’Longhi has some exciting news: for the first time this summer, it is entering the tower fan market. Category marketing manager Helen Finlayson said, “This presents a great opportunity for De’Longhi.
“With our strong brand positioning and reputation for offering well-designed, quality products, we won’t disappoint, entering the market with two striking products in the DETF121 (RRP $229 RRP) and DETF115 (RRP $149).”
The more expensive model in the range will have a brushed metal finish, similar to De’Longhi’s existing VLT range, which has always been a strong seller for the company. “They deliver the consumer a high-end alternative and provide the retailer with an opportunity to increase their average selling price in this category,” reported Finlayson.
The other model in the range will have a white finish. Both are intended to complement current homewares trends and should appeal to consumers interested in style and interior design. Of course, Finlayson doesn’t want anyone to think they are just good looking!
“This range offers some great technology, including a natural mode, which offers an unobtrusive, natural wind feel within the home, at just the touch of a button.
“Both models come with remote controls for convenience, oscillation for better air distribution, three fan speeds and are easy to assemble, with the DETF115 also featuring an air filter.”
Also new in the De’Longhi seasonal range is an evaporative cooler (EV290, RRP $229), featuring a 5.5-litre water tank, filtration system to collect and sterilise dust particles, an LED display and a 7.5-hour countdown timer.
Glen Dimplex marketing manager Douglas Yapp said the Dimplex brand is set to take the Australian portable air conditioning market by storm with the introduction of two new 4-in-1 Portable Air Conditioners. The four functions are cooling, heating, humidifying and dehumidifying.
“These new models will lead the market, offering superior features, giving the customer an appliance they can use all year round,” Yapp said, noting the difference between the two models is their power output: 3 kilowatts (DC10RCDH, RRP $749) and 3.5 kilowatts (DC12RCDH, RRP $949).
“Most portable air conditioners on the market today offer a cooling-only solution, so to be able to provide a customer with a 4-in-1, all-year-round product is fantastic.”
Shane Chisholm, general manager — Australian sales for Convair at Seeley International, said consumers continue to want the same things from a fan: cold air blown at variable speeds and in multiple directions. “What the consumer wants is a product that moves air to where they want it,” he said.
Not that Chisolm has a simplistic view of the market — on the contrary — he provided some interesting details on how consumers are selecting the product to blow air at them.
“Sales of portable refrigerated air conditioners continue to grow, with the entry-point models retaining the largest segment. Medium size 3.5-kilowatt model would be the next best seller, as this size suits most common single room requirements. Features like reverse cycle and condensate pump-out ensure that this type of air conditioning can be used in all climates and in all seasons.”
Seeley International’s Convair range comprises four fans, three portable air conditioners and two evaporative coolers.
Evaporative coolers have always been closely associated with Seeley International — the company pioneered the technology — and Chisholm still believes the technology has relevancy.
“Evaporative cooling is still a product that has application for those who require cooling without having to close up the house, as these units work particularly well when cooling indoors and outdoors.”
Stacey Pogorecki from GAF Control, marketers of the Heller, Pye and Sunair brands, said she expects fans with DC motors to become more popular over the next few years.
“DC Motors have many benefits including lower energy consumption, lower rotating speed and quiet operation,” she said. “The price for a DC motor fan is significantly higher than your standard fan, however, the rewards are in the reduced energy consumption and lower energy bills.
Pogorecki said many consumers weren’t aware of the benefits that DC motors bring and, therefore, were not prepared to fork out the extra dollars.
“Education is key and once this knowledge becomes more widespread, we believe everyone will start to see a change in the way consumers make their selections.”
The Heller Tower Fan with Remote Control (HTF75R, RRP $59.95) features 3 speed settings, 7.5-hour timer, 60-degree oscillation and, as the name suggests, a remote control.
The rise in electricity prices over the past five years — between 37 per cent and 97 per cent, depending on the location, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) — has seen consumers steer away from air conditioners when deciding how to cool down in summer. That’s according to Elisa Oliver, Vornado brand marketer at Milner’s.
“These consumers are looking for alternative cooling products that are highly energy efficient,” she said. “Cooling appliances ownership has continued to grow rapidly, with more than 4.6 million Australian households now using at least one cooling appliance. As a result of climate change, heatwaves are predicted to get hotter and more intense resulting in sales growth within all categories of the cooling market.”
Vornado has six models in its range, which it refers to as ‘air circulators’. The price points of this series range from RRP $125 up to $349.
“Vornado’s range of air circulators do a great deal more than average fans,” Oliver said. “Not only are they powerful, stylish, compact, easy to clean, convenient and come with a 5-year replacement warranty, they are also eco-friendly and energy efficient.”
Milner’s will be promoting the range with print media and digital ads, in-store demonstrations and product knowledge kits to educate sales staff and potential buyers at the point-of-sale.
This author is on Twitter: @Patrickavenell