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ROB WILEMAN THE ERT INTERVIEW


20


Q: How do you drive your product ranges forward? RW: It’s really key for us to speak to our end consumers to get the feedback to see where the gaps are in the market. We don’t just go off to China and say “that’s a nice product, let’s launch it”. We put a lot of time into research, development and testing to bring out products that consumers really want. We ensure the quality and value for money, but sustainability is really key now too. We don’t want to see things end up in landfill, so we encourage people to not necessarily repair their own electrical products, but replace the certain parts that can be replaced, like filters and hoses. I think the sustainability message really needs to be pushed. Our younger audience now is really demanding of it, which is good. So for us it’s a combination of having the right products that people want and using our platforms to push them out to market.


Q: So what can we expect to see from Swan in the coming months? RW: Collections are a big thing for us. We’ve got a few new collections to hopefully unveil at Exclusively Housewares in June. There’s also coffee. Swan has always been known as a tea brand, what with the Teasmade and our tea urns but we’ve had huge success with the retro-style espresso coffee maker. And it went into the top three bestselling espresso machines last year. But we have also added this machine in the Nordic range as an extension of that theme.


April 2020 ertonline.co.uk


having a great social media platform and shouting about your products if they are not good enough.


Q: You’ve started doing a huge amount of social media marketing in the past few years, how important is that for your business? RW: It’s a really changeable market nowadays. The ‘new world’ retailers, the likes of Amazon and AO are big businesses, but we are trying to reach a wider audience to create enthusiastic footfall for our smaller retailers too.


TV advertising is not what it used to be, although we did do a campaign recently on ITV and our products were mentioned on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway!


Focusing on some of our product areas, the


We are looking at doing more MDA, especially bringing in retro design themes but offering affordable styles. And going even further, there’s opportunity for us in the built-in market – so ovens and hobs – which we will launch in the not too distant future and that will be really exciting for us!


Q: Did you identify that you needed to get into that market given the growing trend? RW: Definitely – the market is there for built-in now. It’s clear that independents are focusing a lot more on kitchens now and having kitchen studios within electrical stores. So for us to offer consumers a built-in appliance would be nice, like microwaves too, but also a complete suite of kettles, toasters, and even saucepans to go with that. But with a move like that there is no point


Fearne Cotton range, for example, Fearne has a reach of 8.2 million people so to tap into that was extremely important to us. We’ve also linked in with some very popular up and coming social media influencers, like The Vac Mat, the online reviewer and blogger. He’s a really nice lad – he’s only 15 but doing very, very well with his channel and his following – he must have been on national TV probably every month since Christmas! Just check out his YouTube channel! We also work with Lynsey, Queen of Clean as well, who has just launched a new book. With these guys onside we are getting noticed in many more places and by more and more people, which is exactly what we are aiming for! The stats speak for themselves and it’s a very direct way of engaging with our target market and supporting the retailers that support us with that. With the independents we’ve invested heavily in photography and video – like training videos – to make sure that’s available online. And we get a million people visit our website each year because of all this.


Q: How else are you trying to expand in the independent retailer channel? RW: The buying groups are quite supportive of us and they are open to trying different things. Our preferred distributor is RKW and they knock on the doors of the independents, as it were. But we’d definitely love to do more with the indies. Being in a retail store is absolutely crucial – like with the Nordic range, it’s extremely tactile so it’s about encouraging consumers to come in and experience that.


I think there’s a huge opportunity within floorcare too, because the change in that market with a lot of the bigger brands – Dyson, Vax and Gtech – they are now selling directly to consumers.


For us it’s opened up a huge opportunity for independents because we have some excellent products but it’s always best to physically see and use the product and get a demonstration in store. That is something we are lacking I feel and any opportunity to do that and support that kind of retail offering is important to Swan.


Q: How do you plan to move your business forward? RW: We feel as though we’ve put Swan back on the map from a marketing standpoint; I think we just need to grow that and build Swan into the brand it was when it first started in the 80s. We would like to be in excess of 20 per cent market share in the coloured ranges and expand our ranges in overseas markets, and I think there’s a really good opportunity to do that. There is clearly a demand in our market, but it can be difficult to break into other countries. We love the reaction we get from UK consumers and we are working hard to let the rest of the world know what they are missing!


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