By David Gill
Having entered the small-appliance category in North America in 2011, Electrolux now wants to ramp up to becoming a major supplier on this continent of small electrics this year.
According to Jack Truong, executive vice president and CEO of Electrolux North America, 2013 could be the right time for Electrolux to make its mark in this category. A couple of factors could open the door to greater success for Electrolux in North America.
One of these factors is the economy. “What we see is a flickering of hope in new home construction and sales,” Truong said in an interview with HFN. “These would carry with it new products going into the home. If the economy gets better, more people go back to work and home prices begin to go up. So you would see people buying more products for their existing homes, and trading up to new homes. Both circumstances would lead to a rise in demand for cooking appliances.”
The other key factor is the growth in interest in high-end cooking products—which could be particularly beneficial to the small-appliance line-up. “We think there is potential for growth in the high-end market, where consumers are looking for quality products that demonstrate superior performance and look attractive and contemporary,” said Marty O’Gorman, president of Electrolux Small Appliances North America.
Electrolux made its debut in the small-appliance market in North America in October 2011, with the launch of a collection of products under its Frigidaire Professional brand. Among these were a 12-cup coffeemaker, a toaster/convection oven, a two-slice toaster and a seven-quart slow cooker.
Truong said this launch targeted several key trends. First, “living spaces are becoming smaller, and consumers want appliances that save space,” he said. The other is consumers’ growing desire for cooking products that look good. “We put an equal focus on design as on the technology in developing these products,” he said. “People want to cook with products that look nice.”
Since that initial debut, Electrolux has expanded on this launch with, among other products, the introduction of the Frigidaire Professional 5-in-1 Panini Grill Griddle. Truong said, “In this category, some of the qualities consumers are looking for are time and health,” he said. “The Frigidaire Panini Grill Griddle works very quickly and is very healthy. It cooks without oil or grease.”
Along with continuing to develop its small-appliance business, Electrolux will, of course, continue to exert its force in the major-appliance arena. The company’s key brands in this category remain Frigidaire; Free Frigidaire, its mass brand; Frigidaire Gallery, a step-up brand found mostly at home-improvement and independent specialty retailers; Gallery Professional; Electrolux; and its premium Electrolux Icon brand, found at specialty retailers and used by builders of high-end homes.
Truong said one of the biggest opportunities in major appliances is with the professional-quality brands. “The great tendency now is for consumers to buy appliances that look just like professional appliances,” he said.
Professional-quality products are also the direction for Electrolux in small appliances going forward. “In 2012, Frigidaire Professional offerings were centered around food preparation and cooking tools,” O’Gorman said. “In 2013, we will continue to build our offerings in these categories, and will expand our solutions for coffee and beverage preparation.”
Electrolux has a significant presence in North American retailers in non-cooking appliances, such as floor-care products under both the Electrolux and Eureka brands. The depth of its market penetration in floor care can be seen by a milestone the company achieved in February 2012, with the sale of the 1 millionth Eureka AirSpeed vacuum.
O’Gorman said these existing retail placements will be another foundation for growing its small appliances in North America. “In 2013, we are focused on building upon our strong retail relationships,” he said. “We have several strong brands that are well known by our retail partners for their quality and performance in floor care and major appliances, and our reputation in these categories is helping us to find new opportunities for our small-appliance lines and increase our footprint at retail.”
So as far as Electrolux is concerned, 2013 should be a banner year for expanding in North America. “We believe our growth will exceed the overall growth of the market,” Truong said. “We will put our marketing behind this goal. We will make a big effort in television advertising and social media for both the Electrolux and Frigidaire brands, and we will do a lot in public-relations events and retail merchandising.”
Truong added that there continue to be opportunities for both brands in all of their channels of distribution. “We’re well represented in all retail channels today,” he said. “The main goal is to ramp up our marketing in all channels and to continue coming up with new products.”