In our Influencers series run in conjunction with Appliance Retailer magazine, speaks to the industry leaders, big brands and well-known identities that have helped shape the electrical retail industry in 2013.

Today, BSH Home Appliances (Bosch and Siemens) managing director Volker Thaens talks about how retailers can overcome a despressed market through innovating products while avoiding discounting.

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How has the first half of 2013 been for your business?

2012 saw the Australian market negatively impacted by a dampened retail environment. However, we saw positive developments in 2013 over and above the development of the market.

What are your predictions for the second half of the year?

We are expecting to see moderate growth across all appliance segments in the Australian market over the next financial year, particularly in the cooking and small appliance categories.

In the dishwashing category, we anticipate that Bosch will defend and strengthen its leading position in the market, especially with the launch of the new and attractive assortment. There are also plans to drive category value of the new front-load washing machines by adding innovation once found in premium-end appliances to medium price classes.

What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?

Consumers often arm themselves with information that is readily available online, so their in-store experience must complement that knowledge and bring those features to life. We believe retailers could benefit from promoting products that offer the latest innovations and tangible product benefits as well as highlight ease-of-use and lifetime cost-saving benefits. Over the coming months, Bosch will work closely with its retail partners to deliver additional training in support of the above.

On the topic of sustainable living, our research illustrates the significant importance consumers place on water and energy savings as part of the decision making process. Undoubtedly, Bosch will continue to lead with product innovation and technology – in particular, manufacturing resource-efficient appliances. This presents an opportunity for retailers to support green technology and meet the growing expectations of consumers.

What threats are currently present in the industry?

We are seeing a decline in the average price across the majority of appliance categories. This could be partly due to the strong Australian currency, which may reverse to a certain degree. Together, industry and retail have to work harder to explain differences in quality, lifetime cost and performance between cheap production and high end German engineering.

What is your favourite product of 2013 so far?

Bosch Relaxx’x ProSilence (BGS5SIL1AU, RRP $699) — it’s our quietest ever cleaner at only 68db due to innovative Silence Sound System. It has an Intelligent Self Cleaning Filter, lifetime washable HEPA filtration and a variety of included accessories.