Sustainable appliances: Designed for a changing world

Mark Young, Fisher & Paykel’s retail sales director looks at how retailers can push the sustainability message even if it doesn’t appear to be a priority for consumers.

Our world is changing at a pace never seen before. The way we live, interact, and what’s important to us as consumers is in a state of flux. 

As a New Zealand based brand, we have a strong understanding of the beauty of nature and the need to protect our planet. Growing consciousness for our own health and the health of our planet is playing an increasing role in the way we live, work and play. With the world’s eyes on the environment and its future, there’s a narrative that consumers are opting for brands that are serious about sustainability – but is that truly the case? 

Our role as manufacturers is to help retailers educate consumers on the benefits of sustainable products, while informing them of the features, longevity, aesthetics and more – it’s a fine balance. Generally, customers will have an idea of what they’re looking for and the greener credentials of one product may not be enough of a reason to change their mind. 

As people, we all want to do better by the planet but it’s easy for us to consider big purchases for the home offset by dutifully separating our recycling or cycling rather than driving everyday to work. 

So, when we’re designing and manufacturing products which have consumers’ needs in mind, the sustainability factor almost has to be a hidden, additional perk. For manufacturers however, we need to have it embedded in the very heart of our business to truly help us innovate and create products which work for our customers and do better for the planet. It’s down to us to drive the change.

Our carbon footprint is our responsibility to reduce – from the way we work and the products we make to the packaging and how items are delivered. At Fisher and Paykel, our product designers incorporate unique technology such as fridges with a variable temperature zone to help produce last longer, and heat pump technology in our dryers so that clothes can be dried a lower temperature, using less energy. 

While we have always been proud of these developments and know that we’re making a positive change for the environment, we also know that historically retailers on the ground weren’t necessarily seeing sustainability as an important consideration for consumers. For those creating their dream kitchens and looking for state-of-the-art appliances, innovations to make their lives easier and stand-out features they can be proud of, lower energy bills have not been the main selling point. However, with the recent hikes in energy prices, energy saving appliances are sure to see a huge uptick in demand in the near future.

As a luxury brand it’s important that we design intuitive and stylish appliances to suit our customers’ lifestyles. However, we can achieve this while minimising any harm to the environment. To continue this sustainable movement, the transparency of companies will play an important role. We publish all of our energy and water ratings to be as open and honest with customers as possible, and it is this open communication that increases brand loyalty and holds companies accountable for their actions. 

Ultimately, it’s down to us as manufacturers to drive these industry changes, working with bodies and the Government for more legislation so that sustainability isn’t a consideration; it’s a given. This way, it’s more likely to develop through the supply chain so that retailers can confidently sell products which meet their customers’ needs, without compromising on doing better for the planet.

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