Fisher & Paykel pushes digital, data and design community to build premium brand strategy

Head of marketing of kitchen and laundry appliance manufacturer talks through latest agency appointment and the digital-oriented efforts helping the brand lift its premium image

Building a digital-first approach to in-store experiences and marketing are key elements in helping Fisher & Paykel transform into the country’s number one premium appliance brand and win over both consumers and designers, its marketing chief says.  

The kitchen and laundry appliance manufacturer recently recruited Affinity as its new media and digital partner. The agency has been given spend of about $5 million and secured the contract after a successful pilot with F&P’s in-home service division delivered uplift and cost savings of 600 per cent.  

Fisher & Paykel head of marketing, Richard Babekuhl, told CMO the appointment was the latest step in efforts to lift the Fisher & Paykel brand into the design-led, premium space. The group also maintains mass market and functional brand, Haier.  

The initial focus was getting the brand foundations right first, and that meant putting emphasis on the product portfolio and R&D approach. To help, Fisher & Paykel is increasingly building collaborative partnerships with the design and architecture community.  

Another big focus has been on building brand prestige with retail partners and digitising the in-store experience. 

“Online represents an important part of the replacement market and research phase, but most transactions continue to happen in-store,” Babekuhl noted. “It’s important to get that customer experience right – to make it immersive, sensory and multi-dimensional. It’s not just product information, it’s digital experiences, training retail partners and floor staff.”

Fisher & Paykel is using 84-inch touchscreens in-store to showcase breadth of product, and taking a tiered approach to retail spaces to up the experience ante. An example Babekuhl pointed to was a flagship bespoke concept space at E&S in Victoria.

“Consumer research shows people love to interact between the physical and digital experience as it makes them feel empowered,” he commented.

The company also offers retail staff training and design and architecture sessions via experience showrooms in Sydney, New York and Los Angeles. These concept spaces help visualise products and its wider brand ambition to foster innovative design.

As Babekuhl noted, rather than centre around food or using chefs as brand ambassadors, Fisher & Paykel is emphasising design excellence and the changing nature of the kitchen from functional to social space.

“We’ve now got to the point where we have the foundations right, which meant we needed to evolve the marketing strategy,” he continued. “That meant adopting a digital-first approach, taking advantage of our global content.”  

Much of this content comes out of the company’s Auckland headquarters. “The Australian market is about executional excellence – path to purchase identification, identifying the right channels and executions that will work for our audience, and that all starts around digital-first touch,” Babekuhl said.  

Which means improving marketing effectiveness with a digital and data lens. One key consumer insight is what Babekuhl described as the “heavy replacement component to the appliance industry, driven by distress”. In these instances, purchase cycles can be as little as seven days.

“We have to be doing an element of always-on branding in channels that make sense to that purchase phase,” he explained. “For example, it’s key we work with retailers to be front and centre in the medium consumers defer to such as catalogues, websites, digital marketing, search. We have to ensure we’re continually focused on brand reach.”

Read more: 10 examples of how brands are using digital technology to attract customers

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Bringing on Affinity is then about getting hypertargeted and better identifying purchase intent.

“In our industry, unprompted brand awareness is relatively low in this category. You have to ensure you have a seamless experience in every touchpoint when someone is in market for that week or couple of months,” Babekuhl said. “People don’t renovate or replace appliances that often but they do dip into the market regularly…. it’s about being efficient and effective in our targeting so we can afford to do an always-on approach in market.”

It’s equally important F&P collaborate closely with the design and architectural community to cements its premium brand image, Babekuhl said. This involves tapping and sharing consumer insights, trends, an always-on website design and presence, and building insights into future products.

“One big focus for us is on renovation and new house build, including the full kitchen suite. In that instance, the inspiration phase is key,” Babekuhl said. “We then celebrate great design via our digital channels such as our Instagram page, which is all about amazing kitchens developed by our collaborators. There’s no hard sell on product features.

“So when it comes to digital platform, it’s really a three-pronged approach: The design community, consumers and retail partners. We need to inspire and use advocacy around design but then demystify the process of choosing which product to buy, understand the lifetime value for the customer, capture that data and plan for the future and changing world of connected appliances and IoT [Internet of Things].

“We have to have the always-on strategy, but also develop a data plan that ensures our connected appliances of the future will add most value… That could be assisted cooking and content that helps people entertain or learn the basics; through to diagnostics and prompts.”

Supporting this strategy is a realigned global structure to better support dual brands, as well as separate kitchen from laundry go-to-market, and retail from the new home build channel. This global approach helps scale and access best practices across markets, Babekuhl said.  

“We will lean heavily on the UK and US in terms of best practice around omnichannel expertise, whereas we think Australia is the best regarding in-store experience and aligning shopper experiences effectively in the retail space,” he said.  

What’s clear is Fisher & Paykel must work hard to inspire people at the start of the renovation journey. That’s going to come down to highlighting its unique philosophies around design, Babekuhl said.  

“Our products don’t fit traditional cavities for instance; we do things like sink dishwashers, and refrigeration in drawers. Unless they’re aware of those design freedom possibilities, they may feel constrained in their choices,” he said.  “It’s important we work with Affinity right at the start of their [customers’] journeys so they’re not limited by traditional cavity sizes and traditional product thinking.   

“We are designing products to increasingly suit the way we all live. It’s important we educate early in the decision process… and as we exit the entry-level product area.”  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

 

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