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Making home appliances 'sexy'

South Korean tech giant Samsung infuses style and new features into electrical goods to wow consumers into making purchases. OO GIN LEE reports

Published on Apr 28, 2014 5:44 AM
 

Samsung is trying to make its home appliances more desirable.

Its new WW9000 washing machine has multiple sensors that can figure out the amount of clothes in the machine and how dirty they are.

The machine then automatically decides on the optimal wash cycle by dispensing the right amount of water and detergent as well as the temperature of the water, spin speed and number of rinses.

It also comes with a giant five-inch touchscreen panel and can be connected wirelessly to the Internet, so users can control the washing machine remotely on their mobile phone via an app and receive notifications when the wash is complete.

To make its point that a fridge is not just a place to store food, Samsung is also launching its new Food Showcase refrigerator which tries to make the fridge look more like a mini bar.

Open the fridge and you will find an exterior "showcase" area to proudly display the commonly accessed food items such as snacks and drinks. This showcase area is divided into three zones: cooking zone at the top for cheese and sauces, family zone in the middle for drinks and snacks, and the lowest zone is designed for kids who want their favourite chocolate bars and drinks within easy reach.

Open the showcase door to reveal the inner case where you store the boring regular items like raw vegetables and meat and fruits.

Gaining an edge

The smart washing machine and fridge were just two of the latest home appliances that the South Korean tech giant unveiled at the Samsung Southeast Asia Forum in Bali last week.

Mr Stanley Goh, vice-president of Samsung Asia's consumer electronics division, told Digital Life that the generally staid designs of these home appliances - called white goods in industry speak - offered an opportunity for Samsung to differentiate itself by injecting cutting-edge technology, innovative functions and minimalistic designs into its new lines of home appliances.

Traditionally, companies do not spend much mass marketing efforts on home appliances as the life-cycle of fridges and washing machines is eight to 10 years long.

Consumers change these goods only when they break down, so marketing dollars are usually spent at the retail shops - mainly through the hiring of promoters - instead of mass media advertising.

"We want to shorten that life-cycle and make our home appliances desirable. We believe that our focus on design, convenience and simplicity in our premium appliances will give us an edge over our competitors," said Mr Goh.

He added that the overall domestic appliances market in Singapore grew by about 8 per cent last year, but Samsung's home appliance business here grew at almost double that rate.

Market research firm GFK said the average selling price of major domestic appliances in Singapore grew by about 4 per cent last year.

Ms Jasmine Lim, account director for GFK's Home and Lifestyle segment, said this growth was driven by the trend of households acquiring more premium appliances such as air-conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines.

Added Mr Goh: "We believe consumers don't just want their fridge or washing machine to work, they want them to look good too."

ginlee@sph.com.sg