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    With all due respect to Stallion, Dram, Bob et al, I must say that I am happy that the comment section has been closed. It was becoming a big yawn watching such obviously well schooled individuals argue your points of view on topics that had very little to do our beloved industry. LET’S GET BACK TO BUSINESS! At the very least I need some juicy gossip.

    For those of you that have seen the new Jenn Air and Viking products, i want to know what you think of the product and their long term viability for the companies that build them.

    i have seen the new Viking products and apparently that even they can learn how to listen to ideas that were not their own. The Designer II product line is long overdue. they should have had these products in 2004. the new products will expose Viking to customers that previosuly could not afford or did not like the styling of the Pro or old Designer series.

    i have not seen the complete new Jenn Air line as I am from Canada and we get our products as soon as all of Alaska’s needs have been fulfilled…….

    By all accounts it is a winner, but I have my doubts about Whirlpool’s intestinal fortitude to stick with their original go to market strategy of restricted distribution. it will only take time ( and a slow month or two) before they relent and open a National Retailer.

    what say you?

    The Advisor

    There is brand risk when a low volume high end producer attempts to extend its line downward to gain sales and market share, particularly if Viking chooses to keep the Viking brand. I have not seen the Designer II line, but based on your description if aimed low, it could alienate the moneyed class, Viking’s primary target.

    See this discussion on the subject: "Leveraging the Brand – Moving the Brand Down"

    Here’s a UK study. You can read the abstract, but not the report.

    Interesting abstract I: "The Ownership Effect in Consumer Responses to Brand Line Stretches"

    Interesting abstract II: Consumer evaluation of vertical brand extensions and core brands :

    Bermuda Bob

    WOW !!! You brought back some college memories with some of those articles … however, while their examples are dated and some, eventually proved to be flawed, their hypotheses are basically right on … except when applied to today’s way of thinking …

    Yes, when many brands wish more exposure across the affordability levels of customers, they create a "junior brand" , but Pro-Style Appliances don’t do it across the board … probably because of the theorem expressed in the discussion of owners versus "owned" product lines !!!

    Owner operated manufacturers have investments of more than dollars and cents while "owned" manufacturers are all about the dollars and cents and rarely about anything else !!!

    The "owned" lines are far more likely to offer what I’ll call "junior brands" but never with the same name … Think of it …

    Thermador has Bosch …

    Kitchen Aid Architect has Whirlpool … (not sure where Jenn-Aire is going to fall in this scenario yet)

    Monogram has Cafe’ then Profile … (GE does not emphasize GE on Monogram, but does so on the others)

    … to name a few …

    … but Capital, Liebherr, Sub Zero, Wolf … even and Viking have no "junior brand" … the difference is that theorem of owner vs. "owned" !!!

    So, applying this theorem unfortunately does not bode well for any company thinking of selling it’s soul to the China lot … we’ve seen what’s happened so far with Fisher & Paykel and the threat to DCS (or "Dead Cooking Stuff" walking) … so, only time will tell.

    Thanks Advisor for the exercise !!!

    The Advisor

    I read that differently. As I read that passage they are describing the thoughts of the owners of the products not the owners of the factory. That is, what does does a a Mercedes owner think about the Mercedes brand after the launch of a low end Mercedes or maybe the Smart car. I did not think they were going into the strategies of firms with different ownership structures.
    It would be interesting to turn that one over though. Firms of a particular size probably grow through acquisition, and keep the brand. Viking has made two appliance acquisitions that come to mind, and in both cases it was for product, tooling and technology, not the brand. (Amana, TMIO). Sub-Zero bought and kept the Wolf brand. They decided that Sub-Zero was a little bit too product specific to get into cooking, but the Wolf line is a lateral extension targeting the same consumer. Sub-Zero / Wolf has become more a co-branding strategy.


    I have now seen the entire new line of Jennair Euro style and I have to say that the new cooking line is actually …… exciting !! ( And believe me, gentlemen .. and probably a few ladies I stopped a long time ago being impressed by appliances )

    The new collection of wall ovens are an innovative product for Whirlpool as a whole . It does set Jennair apart from the rest of Whirlpool owned brands. It was about time to differentiate Kitchenaid from Jennair. ( and we are finally , after YEARS of waiting getting the combo wall ovens by someone else than Kitchenaid North of the border!!!!! )

    The new top of the line Jennair ovens are equipped with a very clever " Masterchef" like feature that take all the guess work out for the client.

    My only problem is that Jennair is not a brand that can sell that kind of features. The Masterchef feature did sell Miele ovens for me , but I am quite skeptical that it will do well for Jennair. Their attempt at positioning the new line as a true "High End" brand is doomed to failure from the start in my opinion. ( Partly due to the fact that most salespeople do not see Jennair that way therefore will not "swing" their clients in that direction ) A lot of the high end customers are looking to show off with their appliance purchase, and a fully equipped Jennair kitchen is not really up to par with a Sub/ Wolf or Miele suite of appliances when it comes to brand recognition.

    I think it’s sad to see that something new and exciting is probably doomed to collect dust in warehouses and on salesfloors.


    You are right on that JennAir is not in the position to unseat SubZero, Wolf or Viking. That said, by some accounts those brands are off 30 – 40 %. Not really a category you want to target. If you are displaying JennAir I would strongly recomend showing it to everyone asking about GE Profile, KitchenAid, Bosch or Thermador. These are the people who are going to buy JennAir. And JennAir will sell, and is selling. If you go with their speed oven and entry level convection oven it is priced within 5% of a GE Profile of similiar features but not nearly as exciting. Don’t think of it as a brand of prestige – think of it as a premium brand to be marketed to a much broader audience. And don’t give it away – if you are at all protected in your market area make some money on it. Who knows when it will be available everywhere, so push it and make money while you can. If they choose to open up more box stores than you can simply pull the plug.


    Well AA, this makes for some fun speculation on our part since the true motive behind the Viking Designer line is not publicly known…and there are rumors brewing that Sub-Zero is currently working on free standing refrigeration products as well. From the “smell” of things, both companies are feeling the pinch and are being left out in this economy. Everyone agrees that business will never go back to the inflated levels we experienced in the late 90s and early 00s. The super premium luxury pie is shrinking and I suspect these guys want to be in the game. Even the customer who is stable or even solid financially is stepping back from the “bling” and purchasing slightly lesser brands. So, don’t be surprised if these two brands show up at the new Pac Sales foot print. We independent dealers need to be on notice and try and create a detour by supporting these two brands a little more…The likes of Whirlpool and GE just don’t takes us seriously. The smaller and more profitable brands do.
    I have seen the Viking Designer II, and it looks nothing like the pro series. It is more European looking and a real departure from their traditional brand. I have a strong feeling that it will have some play. Whether or not it will cannibalize the super premium pro line will remain to be seen, but does it really matter if the current conditions are driving these brands downward anyway? It will be interesting to witness…


    You certainly are right in saying that the GE and Whirlpool don’t care about independent dealers, that is clearly evident by their willingness to sell anybody and everybody with a big box location, including the Direct Buys of the world. Heck, they would open up Chevron if they agreed to display a refrigerator or two. Unfortnuately for those of us selling premium lines, it does look as if it will be a long, long time before the glory days of the middle of this decade return and therefore we and those manufacturers will have to learn to adapt to the new marketplace reality. Hence the Designer line of Viking, version II. I had not heard that about Sub Zero considering making free standing refers but it does make some sense if they can do it at a much lower cost than their built in line. I think the new Viking line looks good but it is not priced that much lower than the pro line to really sway a consumer on the fence financially. I hope they succeed and yes, we do need to support Viking and Sub as long as they stay out of those stores inside Best Buy. But I am not holding my breath that they won’t change their mind if Best Buy gets any traction with the concept. Let’s hope they don’t!

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