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IFA 2020 Interview


October 2020 ertonline.co.uk


‘Our vision is to become the first consumer choice for smart home products’


Jack Cheeseman speaks exclusively to Yannick Fierling, CEO of Haier Europe. 26


connected solutions for the home. Mr Fierling announced the


A


company’s intention to be in the top three appliance manufacturers for the European market “in the coming years”, adding that he wants all the brand’s products to be connected by 2023. He also spoke about the aim for “Zero Distance with Consumer” and transforming the consumer journey from product to experience. After his presentation, Mr Fierling sat down to speak with ERT.


t this year’s IFA, Haier introduced


new


innovations across the board, including IoT ecosystems and simple,


everything moved to online, so we needed to keep up to make sure we could help our customers. Some governments were assessing


white goods production to be essential to the end consumer, so in those areas our operations continued, but with measures in place. The only slight positive side in


all of this, we were well prepared in Europe – we had procedures in place leveraging best practice – because we saw how things were developing in China.


Q: Did you have any severe delays as a result of the pandemic? YF: If you’re well prepared, you can do almost everything from home… except in laboratories. From a research and development perspective, one of our key priorities was keeping our labs up and running as much as possible. As soon as everything opened up


again we started working with departments across the entire organisation to leverage our global scale to catch up any time we had lost. We had some programmes that were delayed, but the impact was tiny.


Q&A


Q: How has COVID-19 affected your business this year? Yannick Fierling: Our first priority was to protect our people, and we have been doing that well. Our second priority was not letting our customers down. Everybody was facing a difficult situation as shops were closed and


Q: Euromonitor has named Haier the number one MDA brand. How do you ensure you stay in the leading top spot? YF: This year we made it on to the Brand Z list – the 100 most valuable brands on the market today and we are the only one to be included in the “IOT Ecosystem” category. One of the main reasons we made


the acquisition last year was to marry the global leader for connectivity with the European leader in smart appliances, the Candy Hoover Group. The Candy


brand alone has about 35 per cent market share in Europe for connected appliances. Then, it also occupies about half of the market of connected washing machines. For us, we are present in customers’


homes and we learn all about their needs and habits; it’s a gold mine of consumer insight. Our vision is clear – to become the first consumer choice for smart home products.


Q: How will you achieve that? YF: In 2019 we had a washing machine that was purely designed and developed based on consumer insight thanks to connectivity. We knew that 65 per cent of users opted for the quick cycle by just taking picture of the laundry and artificial intelligence would advise on the correct cycle to use. Now we are pushing beyond that


and Nova is our latest machine – a one- button machine. We are moving away from the standard user interface and incorporating the user’s smartphone. Why did we do this? We noticed


last year that 21 per cent of connected washing machine users had been


launching at least one programme from their phone – this is three times more than 2018. So there’s a clear trend of interacting between phone and appliances. The most technical product we


announced at IFA is our new Haier cooking range. This is one area where we are not very present – we waited to have the perfect product. It’s based on AI with all the latest applications to guide consumers through the cooking process, and they can interact with the product through voice. Another feature is image


recognition – it will recognise the food you are cooking, watching the colour of it to optimise the settings and get the same type of cooking performance from a professional oven. We feel this has never been offered before. It’s also about offering the


consumer an experience, not just a product. At our IFA press conference we spoke about how Haier China is concentrating on product ecosystems, and we’re bringing this to Europe, too.


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