Why Thermomix embraced imperfection and new virtual customers

Eschewing polish and perfection for a more honest brand expression, Thermomix has found a new groove during the pandemic and a way to reach more customers, slip-ups and all.

Thermomix was working towards more digital ways of interacting with customers and doing business. And then COVID hit.

The original process would have taken years, but the pandemic has seen the cooking appliance producer accelerate digital transformation to take place over a matter of weeks. Knowing it wouldn’t get it perfect from day one, teams were encouraged to work together and be open to testing new ideas and technologies.

Thermomix Australia and New Zealand group manager for ecommerce, Craig Atkinson, explained to CMO the crisis has fundamentally changed the way it does business. The pandemic hasn’t just shut down live events for the art world, it’s also shuttered on in-person demonstrations for businesses that need to show off their products

“We primarily sold Thermomixes through ‘cooking experiences’. At cooking experiences customers would invite their friends and family [and the consultant] to their house to view the Thermomix in action. Due to Covid-19 this all stopped, suddenly and unexpectedly,” Atkinson said.

The business knew it needed to respond to the changing demands brought on by the pandemic, and there was no time to waste. “It was a pivotal moment within the company,” Atkinson noted.

“We all knew that we needed to adapt, and fast. We re-trained our consultants on how to connect with their customer through virtual cooking experiences using Zoom. We quickly developed presentation equipment like LED ring lights, tripods and other online tools to help with their online presentations."

But this isn’t a ‘set and forget’ change. One change to the way of doing things brings new challenges. Atkinson said the whole experience has inspired the company to explore innovative ways for our field team to connect with our customers. “It’s a very exciting and transformative time within Thermomix,” he said.

The changes have meant Thermomix teams are more efficient with their time - reaching more customers across larger geographic ranges and can make better use of budgets to ensure the virtual experiences our customers are getting are of the highest quality.

“The shift to virtual engagements has also allowed us to become more real for customers – rather than the highly polished performances we typically ran, we’re now engaging on a more peer-to-peer level through social media and acknowledge that we’re all navigating through this new normal together,” said Atkinson.

Team ownership

When it comes to utilising technology through the pandemic, one example is Thermomix’ Shopify Plus platform that forms the backbone of its digital business. With Shopify Plus running in the background, teams have been able to trial and test things like which LED lighting works for virtual event setups, which tablet devices best fit in their kitchens and from what angles, and how best to engage with their customers through the right social media channels.

“Rather than dictating how teams should operate, we’ve equipped them with the technology and tools they need to work together, share learnings, and be productive in their new working environments,” said Atkinson.

It’s also been able to spin up customised landing pages within 24 hours. In the last few months, this capability has enabled the business to be incredibly timely with campaigns and partnership opportunities.

“Without any in-house coders, we’ve been able to use the Shopify Plus platform to compete with some of the biggest retailers in the region and reach an entirely new range of customers,” he said.

The changes to the business, stripping away some of the polish and perfection, have translated into its wider marketing play. Atkinson said while it’s always been about connecting with people, its marketing used to be highly refined and very much on point, but this has given way to a more realistic expression of the brand.

“Our values at Thermomix have always been about people first, but what Covid did was highlight the need for us to be more real and authentic, and less process-driven or corporate,” Atkinson explained.  

“Rather than polished presentation videos, we started to connect to our community through huge Facebook live events. During lockdown we were teaching our audience to make bread, pasta and even complex cocktails…all from scratch. Since the events are live and unedited, sometimes we made slip-ups, but that was all about being real and relevant." 

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