July/Aug 2019

Steve Macdonald, Business Director, Freestanding Division at Hoover Candy UK, explains: “Eventually, we’ll have a fully connected kitchen, whereby all the appliances can talk to themselves. For example, it could be an oven or a fridge that keeps track of all the other smart appliances in the kitchen. This could mean keeping a record of ingredients and lists, expiry dates, what’s been cooked and which appliances need care or maintenance as well as updating shopping lists with regularly purchased items. The one appliance acting as a central hub should not only store all of this information, but also have the ability to share it with users.”

Laundry leading the way While connectivity is making its way into every appliance category sector, generally, it appears that laundry is leading the way within this sector, with washing machine volume sales reaching 527,000 units in 2017, according to a Euromonitor report. Connected fridge freezer volume sales also saw an increase of 53 per cent in the same period. However, according to Marco Falaschetti, Marketing Director at Whirlpool, a barrier to the mainstream adoption of connected appliances is price, with over a third of respondents in a recent study quoted it as a barrier. The market for connected appliances is currently largely dependent on income, and Mr Falaschetti says that higher earners are more willing to adopt the latest technologies. “Research also confirms that there is a different need for smart appliances at different segments of the market,” he explains. “Reasons for consumers adopting new technologies differ dramatically between different generations. Millennials, for example, are likely to adopt smart technology because it is ‘cool’ and ‘trendsetting’.” To capitalise on this, Whirlpool recently introduced its 6TH SENSE Live app for its connected appliances, which has features including task delegation, maintenance tips and the flexibility to run appliances at the most efficient time of day. The app also adapts to the profiles of each household, managing appliance consumption and the consumables too. Adds Mr Falaschetti: “Smart technology generally gives consumers the opportunity of taking energy and resource savings to the next level. In laundry appliances, for example, you can optimise wash programmes and control the appliance remotely.”

Left: Hoover’s AXI washing machine. Right: Whirlpool’s Supreme Care Live FSCR 12441

The Whirlpool Supreme Care Live washing machine and matching tumble dryer communicate with each other via the 6TH SENSE Live app, which communicates the washer’s current programme to the dryer and automatically synchronise and set the correct drying cycle.

“Retailers have a superb opportunity with these challenging times to garner new and future sales opportunities,” continues Mr Falaschetti. “The benefit of smart appliances to an independent electrical retailer is that they cannot be effectively demonstrated on the Internet; by taking ownership of the technology, opening up the showroom to become an experience store and engaging centre, inviting customers to touch, feel and see the appliances in action, they can really take advantage of this rapidly-developing market.”

Be the go-to expert

Beko’s Head of Marketing, Keval Shah, agrees, saying that retailers need to make space in-store for impressive displays that capture the customer’s imagination. He says: “It’s also important to train up staff on the smart home proposition to ensure they fully understand all the features and benefits of each appliance and how they work with the apps in order to give customers a thorough demonstration. “With smart technology being relatively new to market, having an expert on-hand to explain the technology and its real-life benefits helps convert store visits into sales.”

In order to help consumers future-proof their kitchens, retailers have an important job now to educate consumers for what they might need in just a few years’ time. Voice control is a great way to initially grab people’s attention and then focus on a few key ‘scenarios’ that the consumer might be familiar with. “For example, getting up to check how long is

left until dinner or interrupting your dinner party conversation to cancel the alarm, you can then explain how connectivity can work in their favour,” comments Peter Wadsworth, Innovations Manager, BSH Home Appliances.

“The benefits of connectivity in terms of accessibility are also worth getting familiar with. Whether it’s voice control for the visually impaired or visual cues for the hearing impaired, like flashing connected lights when the dinner is ready, these technologies (as well as being pretty cool) can actually be life-changing for some customers.” That said, one of the challenges is communicating the ‘right’ benefits to the consumer. Says Mr Wadsworth: “For example, when comparing the set up of your new smartphone with someone else’s, it can become quite clear that these fundamentally identical, out-of-the-box devices are anything but — once in the hands of a user. We expect this to be the case with connected appliances.” While the retail landscape is continually changing,

retailers cannot ignore how the market is moving forward, and there has certainly never been a better time to create a consumer-driven store of the future.


Left: Bosch HRG6769S6B. Middle: The Hoover Vison Oven recipe selection. Right: NEFF’s B48FT78N0 Built-in Single Electric Steam Oven.

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