Merloni to sink £21m into ‘smart’ appliances drive

Italian domestic appliance giant Merloni is ploughing £21m into a three-year marketing campaign for the pan-European launch of the first “intelligent” products.

Italian domestic appliance giant Merloni is ploughing &£21m into a three-year marketing campaign for the pan-European launch of the first “intelligent” products.

The company is expected to beat rival Zanussi to market with its Ariston Digital appliances, which are able to “talk” to each other through the mains wiring and call out an engineer if a fault develops.

The products – including refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and cookers – can monitor each other’s power consumption and delay operation until off-peak periods. The range also includes a Home Smart Monitor that can download recipes from the Internet.

The Ariston Digital range is being unveiled to the UK trade next week. It is expected to be in the shops by June.

The launch will be supported by a major pan-European ad campaign, which is expected to be handled by Leo Burnett’s Italian office.

A Merloni spokesman says: “This is the next generation of white goods.

“We expect them to revolutionise the market. In five or ten years’ time, everyone will have an integrated kitchen.”

Zanussi is test-marketing a range of “smart” appliances in Italy, called Live-In. It aims to launch them in the rest of Europe, starting with the UK, in the second half of this year.

Electrolux, which like Zanussi, is part of the AEG group, last year signed a deal with mobile phone company Ericsson to develop systems for the “networked home”.

Whirlpool is also understood to be developing a range of integrated digital appliances.

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