Guest Post by Dan Ratner
Being a major item, laundry appliances are an occasional purchase for most consumers, often only made when the previous washer breaks down, after a laundry renovation or when moving to a new home.
For manufacturers in this market, keeping their brands top of customers’ minds in between purchases can therefore be challenging. These brands need to think carefully about the context of the purchase and the type of customer they want to attract.
The key product attributes that consumers look for are likely to be very similar across various brands. For example, quality is a mandatory attribute to communicate. Innovation has also become an important consumer value as consumers generally want to have the latest technology. Brands must therefore find ways to differentiate themselves to appeal to the unique desires of consumers.
Here’s how these top four laundry appliance brands differentiate themselves:
From cutting edge design to incorporating Wi-Fi, Samsung focuses heavily on innovation when talking about their washing machines. This focus is reinforced throughout the entire Samsung brand, by positioning itself as a producer of leading edge electronics, in particular smartphones.
This is a double-edged sword for the Samsung brand. There is an advantage in having a widely recognised brand at an affordable price. This recognition leads to trust which is important in a market where consumers research heavily as part of the decision-making process. However, the drawback is they aren’t known for having a speciality. Having such a wide range of products in the market can suggest a lack of focus.
One may question why Samsung would even extend its product range to include washing machines in the first place. However, washing machines play a role in the brand’s wider vision of a fully integrated lifestyle. This puts Samsung in a very interesting position, particularly in the future.
In the meantime, Samsung allows consumers to have a widely recognised brand with the potential to be integrated with other Samsung products in their household. This unique position has appeal, particularly for tech savvy demographics seeking affordable, leading edge appliances for their homes.
In comparison to Samsung, Whirlpool is a traditional specialist. This means that it’s driven less by innovation and has instead established a reputation for focusing on a small range of household appliances.
Whirlpool’s take on product is a focus on simplicity of use and resource efficiency. It presents a minimal viable product to reinforce its simplicity. Consequently, it is a very humanistic brand that uses natural colours and soft imagery to reflect its quality and environmental friendliness. This distinguishes the brand from the competition who use bold colours and hard lines to communicate their advanced technology and functionality.
Whirlpool’s simple, modern brand promises functional design that fits around daily life. This is reflected in the company’s brand promise: “to empower consumers and simplify daily life”.
Miele communicates quality and sophistication. It is positioned as a premium brand by continually looking to demonstrate its brand promise: “Immer Besser”, which means ‘forever better’.
This tagline is very much centred around product and leveraging the brand’s German heritage. It has also provided the brand with a driving force throughout its history. The result is that Miele products are desirable all around the world and have a price tag to match.
Miele washing machines reflect their brand promise through in-product innovation. This differs from Samsung’s take on innovation, which is focused on additional features in the context of a holistic and integrated lifestyle. For Miele, innovation means continual improvement of the product, which results in simplicity of use, efficiency, function and quality.
Having a Meile washing machine in your home is considered a symbol of status and demonstrates an ability to afford the very best.
Like Miele, Bosch leverages its German heritage and communicates design, quality and innovation. However, for Bosch, design, quality and innovation has been translated to precision and functionality, rather than added design features. This is also reflected in the way the brand communicates with its simple logo design, functional website, factual language and limited jargon.
This is not a position of status or lifestyle. It is a more a no-nonsense approach that appeals to buyers who value long lasting, European quality without associations with higher prestige or the Miele price point.
Dan Ratner is the managing director of Uberbrand, a branding consultancy based in Sydney, New South Wales.