UK appliance brand Hotpoint is now part of the Whirlpool Corporation, following the American white-goods giant’s acquisition of the Indesit Company last year. Sean Hannam asks brand communications director Ian Moverley (pictured) what this will mean for the future direction of Hotpoint and what part kitchen studios can play in boosting the brand’s kitchen presence
Whirlpool Corporation – the world’s number one appliance brand – bought the Indesit Company for $1 billion (£638m) last year. As part of the move, Whirlpool acquired the Hotpoint and Indesit brands, and at this year’s IFA show in Berlin, Germany (September 4-9), it will be exhibiting all of its brands for the first time, which will include a range of products from Whirlpool, KitchenAid and German brand Bauknecht.
There’s plenty of activity around Hotpoint at the moment. The brand, which claims to be in two out of three homes in the UK, has just unveiled a new Ultima S line-up of laundry appliances, which features Direct Injection technology, said to remove more than 100 stubborn stains at just 20°C.
To back-up the product launch, Hotpoint has launched a consumer marketing campaign called Love Your Clothes, in which customers can receive a free compact steam-generator iron worth £79.99 when they buy selected Ultima S laundry products. Retailers can promote the campaign with a variety of digital assets including video content, training materials and in-store POS.
Kbbreview met up with Ian Moverley, Hotpoint’s brand communications director, at the company’s stylish kitchen showroom on London’s Wigmore Street to find out its plans for the next few months and beyond…
Q: Can you give us an update on what’s happened since the Indesit Company was acquired by the Whirlpool Corporation? How has the integration process gone?
Ian Moverley: In terms of the two companies coming together, it’s in a phase that’s called the legal entity merger, which is due for completion in October. At that point, the companies will be formally together. At the moment, we’re moving together, but still operating separately – two different teams and two different plans. Peterborough [where Indesit Company is based] will be the head office and the management team has been appointed. That’s where we are right now – it’s then more about integrating our systems and, once that’s been done, it becomes an official merger. I suspect that in terms of joint planning, it won’t be until January 2016 that we begin that.
Q: So what does the Whirlpool acquisition mean for Hotpoint and the Indesit Company?
IM: The total corporation is 100,000 employees, specialising in appliances. It also includes access to 70 R&D centres around the world – there’s a deeper understanding of new products and insight. The Whirlpool Corporation is very much focused on processes at a global scale – Indesit’s more on the entrepreneurial side and will try things. The coming together will be very strong.
The big change is from [Whirlpool] having a 40% market share in the States, it now gives it the opportunity to be number one in Europe and the UK. For our brand portfolio, it means we have Indesit as our value brand, Hotpoint as the ‘core plus’, Whirlpool as premium and KitchenAid above that – it’s niche.
Indesit, Hotpoint and Whirlpool are three core brands that cover the vast majority of the market – the opportunity is there to play with all three and look at how we take that to market.
From an end-to-end solution, we’re the only [appliance] manufacturer who makes it, delivers it and services it. The management of the consumer is a big focus for us. For many years, manufacturers have focused entirely on the retailers, which is important but, if you don’t generate demand from the consumer, how will you ever grow the market?
A new fridge is 50% more efficient than it used to be and washing machines are 50% bigger, but in the same footprint. You’ve got to educate consumers to come back into the [appliance purchasing] market earlier [than they would normally do]. For the Hotpoint brand, in terms of investment in new products, consumer understanding and advertising, it will only increase. Hotpoint’s strength in the UK is, for sure, one of the reasons Whirlpool bought the company.
If you have a market share of 15% and 15 million products in UK homes, it’s an established base that will really give you a sense of scale. We’ll be working together with retailers to create more demand.
Q: Can you tell us more about the current Love Your Clothes campaign?
IM: Love Your Clothes is about buying a product that cares for your clothes, rather than just being about cleaning them – it’s a much more emotional campaign. The new Ultima S line has Direct Injection technology – it will remove more than 100 stains at 20 degrees. One of the changes we’ve made is how we educate the consumer that it’s not just technology for technology’s sake – it’s more that it has a meaningful benefit. It’s about protecting the fibres and keeping clothes brighter for longer, together with stain removal. So you’re caring for your clothes and you’re also saving on energy, but it’s the performance element that comes first. That’s what Hotpoint’s been known for – that why it’s trusted.
Q: Do you want Hotpoint to be seen as a brand that’s in the cooking space? And will kitchen studios play a part in helping you achieve that
IM: Do we have ambitions to be more in built-in? Definitely – but it’s a long game. We want to be seen as a true kitchen brand. That’s one of the reasons why we brought out our small appliance range. We sell through a network of distributors to kitchen studios, which will play a crucial part in our drive. They will be able to ensure visibility of the products in showrooms and be demonstrated to the consumer, proving that Hotpoint can offer a total kitchen solution. We will work closely with them to generate interest with events, etc, and encourage them to maximise their use of digital content in store, such as videos.
Q: You have more marketing activity planned for later this year, don’t you?
IM: Our next campaign will be called Love Your Food and will be around our new refrigeration platform. Then we’ll move on to Love Your Cooking – that will essentially be a continuation of the campaign we started last year.
Q: So, are you confident for the next few months ahead?
IM: Definitely. The market is growing. As we move into peak season, there’s growth in built-in. Freestanding is flat, but there are opportunities to grow. The challenge is making Hotpoint stay relevant for today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.