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The Rise and Rise of a Household Name: Q&A with Fisher & Paykel

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By Published On: October 10, 20190 Comments

As one of the most innovative and recognised homewares company, Fisher & Paykel is recognised across the globe. We sat down with Kym Porter, the Global GM of Retail Experience at Fisher & Paykel Appliances, to discuss changing customer demographics, creating digital relationships and the future of retail.

Fisher & Paykel has made a name for itself in the appliance and homeware category. Established in 1934 in New Zealand, it positions itself as one of the most innovative technologies in the market. Now operating within Australia, China, the United States and Italy, Fisher & Paykel has 450 patents and is now known as a household name for Aussie and New Zealand consumers.

Fisher & Paykel is one of the most recognised home goods products for 85 years. What has been one of the biggest contributing factors to the brand’s ongoing success?

Our remoteness as a small country at the bottom of the world has consistently presented challenges that needed an innovative approach to overcome. The uncertainty of trade, a lack of access to certain technologies and materials, and our distance to off-shore markets has required us to be dynamic and think outside the box. Our distance from the rest of the world has also seen us navigate our own path, unencumbered from the conventional thinking of more established markets.

This pioneering spirit and culture of curiosity have shaped our culture and are still at the core of the brand today. They underpin our ‘Designed in New Zealand’ story, our innovations, and our human-centred design approach.

Fisher & Paykel operates across 50 countries – what are some of the most significant differences between the target markets? How do you have to adjust the marketing strategy from a country like New Zealand compared to China?

That’s a great question and very relevant for us right now. Fisher & Paykel is undertaking a fundamental shift of its strategy and brand positioning, from mass-market appliances towards luxury premium and in doing so has identified several key differences in our markets.

This shift to luxury premium presents several challenges from a marketing perspective, specifically in relation to global brand consistency with each of our markets who in many cases are at different levels of maturity in terms of brand exposure and perception.

In our home markets of New Zealand and Australia, where we are a household name, we have traditionally been known for reliability and value, appliances for every home. In our growth markets of the US, UK and China, the Fisher & Paykel brand is not as well-known but already positioned in the luxury premium space. The marketing strategies in each location are consistent in their goal to establish Fisher & Paykel as the luxury premium brand of choice, but catered to their current stage in that journey.

With technology growing faster than ever before, it can be hard to catch up with the hottest trends. How does Fisher & Paykel stay on top of its game?

The challenge for all businesses is in balancing the need to properly analyse and assess design and technology trends, so they are not implementing new technology for new technology’s sake. But let’s be honest, I don’t think any business wants to risk being left behind either, so it needs to be approached carefully.

We look at innovation and emerging technologies with a consistent approach to ensure that anything we create or adopt is human-centred – that is, they respond to a genuine human need and truly enrich the life lived around appliances. We carefully design, test and check against proof points with every innovation. The same goes for placing new technologies into our products or utilising new technologies within our retail display offerings.

A great example is our utilisation of Virtual Reality as a technology. We use it specifically to understand and hold deeper conversations with key retail stakeholders around customer experience before we go out and start construction. This proves hugely beneficial and is far more cost-effective than physically prototyping of new ideas. 

It seems that every week, there’s a new ‘big thing’. What are some trends that Fisher & Paykel are embracing, and which are some that are just fads?

We fundamentally believe in the role appliances need to play in delivering design freedom, allowing architects and kitchen designers to express their aesthetic vision without restraint. That freedom comes from choice – the choice of style, the choice of size and format, the choice to showcase an appliance with bold features or to hide it tastefully behind cabinetry.

While our aesthetic will always be contemporary, we believe design should be enduring and look to embrace those trends that we believe have longevity.

This is where we believe Integrated and Minimal styles will shine in the coming years, and this is something for which we are well known. We work closely with architects and kitchen designers to ensure our products, details and experiences reflect the changing architectural context and our designs complement those of the world’s leading tastemakers.

Online shopping has transformed the way customers shop. How has Fisher & Paykel adjusted to the transition into digital shopping, and what were some challenges you’ve faced along the way?

The moment a bricks and mortar business realises online shopping isn’t just limited to the confines of someone’s home is the moment you start to see change in a retail approach to this modern-day reality. We often see mental models in our markets that continue to see the bricks and mortar showroom and online shop as polar-opposite places, but in fact, they can and should be considered one and the same.

By taking this mindset, we have designed and choreographed our in-store experience for the brand, providing a seamless visual journey from web to physical and back again. We have done a great deal of research on this and one clear stand out is that there is no clear linear journey for customers in the market for white goods.

As a luxury premium brand, we must consider the customer journey for those who are designing, building or renovating an exquisite new home, through to those who are looking to replace a product. In most circumstances, each of the journeys will incorporate a want or need to go into a physical space and engage with the product before purchase.

We want our retail displays to provide a compelling experience that assists our retailers in closing the sale with clear awareness that the customer journey may potentially continue online. Our digital screen solutions have been developed to aid in this task by continuing a virtual relationship and helping the brand to stay front of mind in their journey. 

As e-commerce becomes a more established platform for retailers, the importance of personalisation becomes more prevalent. How does Fisher & Paykel create a personalised experience for its online customers?

We work very closely with our commercial partners in their online journey, with the majority of our customers following a path to purchase through their e-commerce portals. Although we have a lot of confidential initiatives in the works around enhancing the online experience, what I can say is that one of our end goals is to understand where a customer is in their purchase journey and, as a result, provide them with an instantaneous web experience tailored to meet their needs.

The overarching goal is to develop a premium an ongoing digital relationship with customers no matter the time at which our paths cross from pre through to post-purchase.

What’s next on the radar for Fisher & Paykel? Is there anything we should mark our calendars for?

It’s probably our worst kept secret but I’m excited to now say be on the lookout next year for the opening of our brand-new Fisher & Paykel experience centre right here in Auckland, New Zealand. As the largest of our Experience Centres globally, this amazing space will set a new benchmark in its ability to deliver a luxury premium experience that we hope New Zealand can be proud of. It will also have a critical part to play in telling our New Zealand provenance story, showcasing our global product range and playing host to our valued local and international business partners.

Learn more about Fisher & Paykel’s story and how they continue to innovate and reinvent their relationship with their customers by attending the Online Retailer New Zealand Conference on November 7th, 2019. You can find tickets here

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