Bosch is launching a new French-door refrigerator in the U.S. but the main focus is on a new technology, VitaFresh -- designed to preserve produce for twice as long as conventional crispers -- and a marketing focus on bloggers, social media and the Web. The company is also boosting U.S. marketing efforts this year.
John Farley, senior brand manager at Bosch, says the target for the new $2,900 refrigerator is foodies -- people into gardening and growing their own vegetables -- or those who want to save the $20-40 worth of rotten produce that people throw away each month.
He says the mass premium appliance maker is also trying to appeal to a broader swath of Americans. "We are trying to expand our price-point range," he says. Bosch is most strongly represented in dishwashers, in which it has 10% of the U.S. market and half of its revenue.
"We have been a quiet brand in marketing, and that has been very traditional globally. Last year, we had a very limited presence, but we are ramping up marketing efforts this year to ride a wider audience," he says.
The company is running a marketing campaign currently around its Vision laundry appliances, with ads on eight lifestyle cable networks such as Oxygen, Entertainment and Style, per Farley. He says the company is also boosting social media efforts.
"I initially questioned the value of social media for a product you buy once every eight to ten years," he says, "But lots of people are very passionate about kitchen and laundry, so we find social media is an interesting way to connect." He adds that the company has, until now, been using the medium solely as a CRM tool.
"We are actually the leading appliance maker on Twitter," says Farley, "but one thing we don't want to do is, say, run contests on Facebook. We want to develop a connection with the brand." He says the company's global branding platform is built on quality and commitment to sustainability, and that the latter, in particular, has become important to consumers of mass premium appliances.
Farley says that despite the economy, the brand has been doing well this year, and that a part of this is premium consumers' interest in buying products that are green from companies identified with sustainability.
Charles Dawes, director of product marketing for BSH Home Appliances, parent company of Bosch in the U.S., says Bosch is the only U.S. manufacturer whose entire lineup is Energy-Star compliant, and that this is the second year in row the U.S. Department of Energy has named Bosch an "Energy-Star Partner."