Electrolux 15m rebrand applies the science of consumer need

Electrolux, the world’s largest appliances group, is doubling its advertising spend to 15m as part of a new strategy intended to put marketing and brand communications at the heart of the company.

The overhaul will include major campaigns for the company’s three key UK brands/ Electrolux, AEG and Zanussi. According to Electrolux, 90% of its sales this year will be from these brands. It will also continue its co-branding exercise, launched in 2003, to strengthen consumer awareness of the Electrolux brand.

AEG will continue to be positioned as a premium brand, aimed at AB consumers aged over 30. It will have the strapline Perfekt in Form und Funktion to emphasise its German credentials in design and innovation. Unusually for a white goods brand, it will be supported by a cinema campaign. The ads, which will break in May, will support its “silent kitchen” theme and its aspirational positioning.

Zanussi – the company’s leading UK brand – will have its “Appliance of Science” strapline reintroduced. Electrolux brand and marketing director Andy Mackay says the line, which was scrapped six years ago, is iconic. He would not be drawn on details of the advertising, which will be the first work developed by new agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (MW October 20, 2005), but he says it will be “bold” and is set to break in May.

The real star of the new strategy will be the Electrolux parent brand, which will receive a majority of the ad spend. In March, it will launch the strapline “Thinking of You”, to replace “Makes Life a Little Easier”. The new line, developed by Lowe Sweden, reflects the company’s view on new product development, which will focus on consumer insight.

Mackay says Thinking of You “presents the business as being in harmony with consumers”. He points to a new washing machine in the Insight range as a key example of how consumer needs are driving innovation. It has an eight-kilo drum but is still the same size as an ordinary washing machine. It can do more washing but does not take up more space – good for consumers who have a small kitchen and no utility room, he says.

There will be a heavyweight advertising campaign including television and press to highlight how such insights have informed the development of new products.

Electrolux’s increased focus on marketing is a significant move in a sector where sales are motivated by appliance breakdowns and decisions are based on price. Mackay says: “It heralds a big change for the company; we have almost been too inward-looking. We’ve been making and selling products rather than understanding consumers first.”

A former marketing director at a major appliances company believes the co-branding strategy has already weakened the Zanussi and AEG brands because Electrolux is “the weakest in the stable”. He adds: “Spending across a number of brands and categories means the spend is very small. It might be better to focus on fewer products rather than take a scattergun approach.”

The challenge for white goods manufacturers is how to build brands consumers can identify with. Interbrand executive director Graham Hales says Electrolux’s new strategy “has to be lauded. So much product development is through the advancement of technology rather than a real consumer need.”

But he warns the strapline could be hard to live up to. He explains: “This has to drive behavioural change through the company.”

Caroline Parry

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