Hitting closer to home: how to make household goods sexy again

Aug 02, 2016

Historically, it’s probably fair to say that household goods and appliances have not been the most exciting product category to shop. Getting customers excited about the daily routine of laundry can prove tough, and bigger ticket items – such as white goods – were typically only bought when old ones needed replacing, or by cash-strapped new homeowners.

As a result, most customers shopping these categories would approach with a particular mindset: concerned more with price than brand, and driven by necessity over aspiration.

However, smart technology is elevating the category, and growth of premium products is in double digits.

Thus, the challenge for brands is to ensure they remain front-of-mind at the moment the customer needs them.


Last year we reported on US online blog and e-commerce site The Laundress. Tapping into consumers’ lifestyles and elevating the chore of laundry into something both aspirational and Instagram-able, the brand opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in late 2015. Merchandised to look as though customers are viewing the same beautifully clean cupboards and all-white utility rooms that The Laundress promotes across its social media channels, the brand makes the dull exciting and beautiful.

“We believe the store is a great opportunity to showcase how we have transformed what was once a mundane domestic chore into a true luxury experience,” said co-founder Lindsey J. Boyd. “The opportunities for us are limitless – after all, everyone has dirty laundry.”

Taking a similar approach, shoecare brand Jason Markk recently held a pop-up in New York’s Union Square where customers could drop-off their trainers for cleaning by one of the brand’s experienced and knowledgeable Sneaker Care Technicians (SCTs). Targeting the niche and dedicated sneakerhead audience, the pop-up aimed to reposition shoecare as a luxury and aspirational service. It is also educating its customers about the brand’s specialist products, which are designed to take care of buyers’ sneakers without harsh chemicals.

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Experiential elements are also commonly being adopted in the retail of large household appliances. This is particularly true at the premium end of the market, where we’ve recently reported on the stunning retail experience at Pirch in New York, here.

“The overall home appliance market is expected to grow about 2.5 to 3 per cent this year,” said Jo Seong-Jin, president of LG’s home appliance division, in a recent interview with Bloomberg. “But our sales of premium sets alone will generate a whopping 10 to 15 per cent growth.”

At the flagship Pirch store in NYC, chefs demonstrate how to use appliances

At the flagship Pirch store in NYC, chefs demonstrate how to use appliances

This trend has been backed up by figures from UK department store John Lewis, who experienced an 81% increase in sales of smart home products in 2015. High-end smart products are changing the way consumers experience their home appliances and, as a result, they have come to expect more. Simply telling consumers about the benefits of a high-tech product with an even higher price tag is no longer enough. Rather, brands must show them.

Setting itself apart from the competition, the new Dyson Demo store (reviewed by GDR here) feels like a hybrid exhibition/retail space. Raising the bar in home appliance retail, the store uses strong brand storytelling and engaging interactive features to show paying customers and interested visitors why it’s worth paying more for its products.

Dyson Demo 4

However, this approach is not without its challenges. Hoping to prime potential buyers to reconsider their perceptions of the brand, home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool recently partnered with audio experts Bang & Olufsen to host an experiential pop-up. (See our review here)

The event no doubt successfully demonstrated the brand’s fun side beyond just technological prowess and prompted great social media conversations. But, whilst it was an immensely enjoyable experience that will certainly stick in our minds, we were left wondering: at what point does wackiness outweigh the premium brand image?

What is key is that brands must understand their own identity and own value proposition, and then focus on communicating it in a way that is appropriate and memorable for the right reasons.

With that in mind, arguably Dyson delivers the best experience, balancing demonstrations, interactivity and entertainment in such a way that suddenly its £300 ($400) hairdryers actually look well worth investing in, and visitors undoubtedly understand the whole Dyson brand that bit better.

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