Smart tech can’t replace humans, says Gaggenau

German luxury appliance specialist Gaggenau has revealed that its approach to smart-home technology is at odds with the strategies adopted by other brands.

Speaking to kbbreview at Milan trade fair Eurocucina, the company’s head of global brand, Sven Schnee (pictured), argued that connectivity might threaten the emotional experience of using a luxury product.

“If you were interested in having a Ferrari, would you want it to be automatic?” he asked. “Would you want it to be connected? Talking to another Ferrari and driving you? No.

“Our high-end showrooms get the emotion across to people. The internet won’t do that and the Internet of Things won’t do that either. So we need to remain a brand of humans. We’ll add on connectivity, but for us it’s not the primary issue.”

Responding to suggestions that smart-home technology will become a major global trend in the years ahead, Schnee said: “I don’t say I don’t play, we’re going to have connectivity all over, but for us it’s a tool for doing online inspection services or concierge services, to do software updates, to do remote diagnostics.”

He described connectivity as a “cross-purchase supporting concept” and not one that should detract from the enjoyment of cooking.

“It might be that we create, for instance, a main switch with a Gaggenau ambient light,” he explained. “So all of a sudden all the eight appliances in the kitchen have the same light set-up. Or you’ll have a display light for the wine fridges, or for the oven or whatever. So it might be a lot about lighting, but it might not be about the automation of cooking processes, because you can’t claim to be interested in culinary culture and then replace it by machines. You just can’t do that. There’s a temptation sure, because everybody else does, but nobody does food like this. So why should we do products like everybody else? It makes no sense.”

Schnee said Gaggenau took a similar view on social media. “We’ve only been on Instagram and Pinterest for four weeks and we’re not on Facebook,” he admitted. “This inspiration by pictures is very interesting. But again, I’m trying to convince you that human interaction is key and social media can’t do this. Social media can be an add-on, but it can’t replace it. The ideal website for me is a black screen with a phone number.”

He also warned that social media could “take over your business” if not used correctly. “Social media might jeopardise your strategy,” he said. “It might counteract your emotional approach. Because social media is dominated by everyone. A luxury brand won’t accept being dominated by you and me. It needs to be one person setting the framework.”

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