Bissell chief operating officer, Adam Madigan made his first trip Down Under from Michigan in the US last week to meet the company’s local trade partners and customers, end consumers and spend time with the team.

Speaking to Appliance Retailer while he was in Sydney, Madigan said Australia is an important market for Bissell.

“We have good success and great partnerships here. Meeting people on their home turf, spending time with the team and seeing the consumer in action is important. The more we can understand global markets, the better organisation we will become,” he said.

Madigan has a strong engineering background, having started his career at Procter & Gamble in manufacturing and later transitioning into marketing. He then joined Bissell in April 2012, charged with leading what the brand calls the ‘hard surface’ category to build and expand upon its legacy in ‘soft surface’ deep cleaning for rugs and carpets.

“We launched a number of steam products and ultimately, the CrossWave – a two-in-one multi-surface cleaner that vacuums and mops, as well as refreshes rugs – was our global foray into the hard surface category,” Madigan said.

“From there, I led marketing and sales teams and was promoted to chief operating officer about 18 months ago. I’ve enjoyed the journey and we’ve grown internationally, which has provided a great opportunity to look at different markets and consumers on a global level.”

Catering to a global audience – on a local level

Madigan believes there’s a lot of commonalities between international markets when it comes to what consumers are seeking from the product experience. However, the home environment being cleaned differs quite a bit.

“Historically, Bissell was focused on soft surface cleaning, which was relevant for households in North America, the UK and Australia, but with growth in Europe and Asia, we had to rethink consumer needs and how we would deliver benefits, given the ratio between hard floors and soft surfaces as a percentage of the home,” he explained.

“Beyond floor type, home size differs greatly around the world, which means big, bulky deep cleaners don’t necessarily fit in a lot of markets with high density apartments or urban living. This led us to rethink the size and sound of our products and how we could deliver benefits in a different way.

Bissell CrossWave HydroSteam.

“The big change was understanding global needs and developing global products relevant to individual markets. 20 years ago, our product development was 95% North America based and we would try to take those products and push them to the rest of the world.

“As we moved manufacturing and opened offices around the world, we gained consumer insights in different regions and developed products founded on global insights that were then localised for specific market needs. CrossWave being a perfect example of that.

“In North America, consumers are likely to mop their floors once a week, but in Asia, floors are being mopped several times a day. This gave us insight into the frequency and efficacy of cleaning between markets and we saw a massive opportunity to develop a product that could replace the laborious task of traditional mopping and it’s been very successful across the world.”

Covid creates lasting impact on cleaning routines

The frequency of cleans increased during Covid as home became the centre of life, which was coupled with a higher standard of clean and sanitisation, according to Madigan.

“In the US and globally, there was a deurbanisation trend as people moved out of cities into larger homes in the country or more suburban areas, which changed cleaning needs,” he said.

“Another global trend was the rise in pet ownership, which is at the centre of Bissell’s mission – helping families take the friction out of pet ownership. Bissell CEO, Mark Bissell’s wife, Cathy created the Bissell Pet Foundation in North America with the mission to help every pet find a home and we’re trying to bring that vision to life globally.

“We know as people adopt pets, increased demand on cleaning is one of the reasons they return pets to shelters, so we want to play an increasing role in making pet ownership easy.”