By David Gill
“Hitting the ground running” is exactly what Marty O’Gorman has done in his role as president of Electrolux Small Appliances North America. It is also what the company itself has done in its entry into the North American market for small electrics.
O’Gorman assumed his post on Aug. 1. Oct. 9 saw the official unveiling of Electrolux’s first small-electrics grouping in North America. Included in this launch is a 12-cup coffeemaker, a toaster/convection oven, a two-slice toaster, a seven-quart slow cooker and four irons.
The new products are branded as Frigidaire, one of the oldest and most iconic brands in major appliances, with a history that goes back nearly 100 years. The kitchen electrics are being offered under the Frigidaire Professional banner, while the irons are being branded as Frigidaire Affinity.
The use of this name exemplifies what Electrolux is trying to accomplish as it dives into the competitive headwaters of the small-electrics category—a field which includes other long-standing names: Cuisinart, Sunbeam, Oster, Hamilton-Beach, Proctor Silex, KitchenAid and others. O’Gorman cited the “excellent awareness” Frigidaire in major appliances has among U.S. consumers. “The brand language (of the new products) goes right together with the major appliances,” he said. “The lines, the construction…these products are intended to blend well into consumers’ kitchens.”
The collection is appearing at department stores and at online retailers. “It was important for us to get this line out during the fourth quarter,” O’Gorman said. “The majority of small-appliance sales at retail occur during holiday times.”
The company has packed some high-technology features into this initial product launch. The convection toaster oven uses infrared cooking technology along with the patented PowerPlus technology for convection and preheat. The coffeemaker uses PowerPlus in its brewing system, along with a coffee strength selector and a 24-hour programmable start option.
The irons come in two classifications, the Frigidaire Affinity Steam+Pro LCD and the Frigidaire Affinity Steam+LED. The former uses an LCD display along with LCD controls, while the latter uses LED controls and digital display. All four irons are designed with the trademarked ReadySteam option and are made with a stainless steel soleplate.
Electrolux offers small appliances in other parts of the world, branded as Electrolux, Frigidaire, Zanussi, Westinghouse and AEG. “We have a strong business in Europe and a growing business in Asia,” O’Gorman said. “We’re number one in South America. Altogether, these products are sold in 150 countries around the world.” However, he added, “these products were developed for North America. They are totally new. We worked extensively with our consumers to find out the features and benefits they are not getting from existing products in this market.”
The decision to bring small appliances to these shores was “a natural next step” for Electrolux given its international standing in household appliances, O’Gorman said. “We’re a global appliance company,” he said. “Appliances are all we do. We want to leverage our experiences with consumer issues into this product category.”
As far as O’Gorman is concerned, Electrolux has succeeded in these respects by offering products that reflect the company brand. “We stand for three main things—high performance, durability and style,” he said. “All of these products are easy to use and their performance is top-notch. We’re confident that these products will get great reviews from Consumer Reports and online.”
Performance ratings will do more than underscore the quality of the new line; they will play a role in Electrolux’s efforts in marketing and advertising these products. “We’re working with our trade partners to let consumers know that we’re in this business,” O’Gorman said. “We will be focusing on digital media, but not TV at this point. Facebook and Twitter will be important in this effort.”
Continuing this move into the North American market down the road, O’Gorman said to look for more products under other Electrolux brands. “We will be adding to the ensemble as time goes on,” he said. “The consumer and customer feedback we get from this initial launch will determine what those future products and future brands will be.”