Braun Turns 90
The Braun brand has grown to become one of the most recognizable in the housewares industry.
By David Gill
On Feb. 1, 1921, engineer Max Braun opened an equipment-manufacturing workshop in Frankfurt, Germany, to produce components for a new product called the radio.
From that beginning, the Braun workshop has morphed into one of the housewares industry's international powerhouses, a force in product categories such as men's foil shavers, hair-care products and small electrics. A statement from the brand said its core values of innovation, premium quality and clear, distinct design remain in place as it looks to the future.
Braun entered these arenas with two product introductions in 1950. That year saw the launch of its first electric shaver, the S 50, with an oscillating cutter block enveloped in a thin steel foil. Also that year, Braun debuted its small-electrics line with the Multimix food processor. Seven years later, it came out with the Multimix 3/31, which it produced unchanged until 1993.
In 1962, Braun took another step ahead in shaving with the unveiling of the sixtant, with a platinum-coated shaving foil. The sixtant achieved sales of 10 million units in 1973, establishing Braun as a standard bearer in men's shaving technology. Braun cemented this position with the launches of the micron plus universal shaver in 1982, the Syncro System in 2000 and the Series 7 shaver in 2006.
Max Braun died in 1951, and his sons, Artur and Erwin, took over the leadership of the company. In 1967, the Braun brothers sold the firm to Gillette, and when Gillette was acquired by Procter & Gamble in 2005, Braun came along in the deal. Since then, Braun has become one of 23 international P&G brands whose yearly sales total more than $1 billion, according to Braun historical materials.
Braun has also achieved a strong identity in consumers' minds. The brand "has positioned itself as the leader in delivering top-of-the-line German-engineered, innovative and quality products," said Kristen Gugliotta, external relations manager for Braun North America. "Braun engineers offer consumers safety, reliability and durability in appliances and grooming products that are finely worked right down to the smallest detail."
New products will be crucial in taking the brand forward. Braun has established a Consumer and Product Research Center at its international headquarters in Kronberg, Germany. This facility involves consumers in developing new products, using focus groups and consumer usage tests to determine consumers' expectations and needs.
"The consumer and his needs are the starting point of all our efforts," said Markus Strobel, vice president of Braun. "They are our motivation in developing new technologies of high practical value and creating products that are of reliable, enduring quality right down to the smallest detail."
Among the products that have emerged from the center in the past year are the Multiquick 7 cordless hand blender; the Series 7 Shaver with OptiFoil; the Satin Hair 5 Multistyler, which combines the Satin Hair Straightener and Curler; and the Dual epilator, which brings together the Silk-epil epilator and the Gillette Venus blade.
Looking ahead, Gugliotta said, "Braun will continue to develop products and marketing platforms that marry technical innovation, reliable quality and distinctive design."