Bissell launches a rental proposition for indies

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Bissell, the American floorcare brand, best known in Britain for its deep cleaning appliances, has redesigned its product line-up, with a number of market firsts scheduled for 2012, and has just launched a compelling rental proposition for the independent channel.

The company, founded in 1876 in Michigan by Melville and Anna Bissell, is still a family-run business, managed by Mark Bissell, CEO, the great grandson of the founders.

The Bissell product portfolio ranges from sweepers, through upright and cylinder cleaners to steam carpet cleaners. According to Euromonitor International, Bissell is the world’s number one floorcare brand with 8.6% of global market share (by value). In the US, Bissell is the market leader in deep cleaning with 40% of household penetration. In the UK the company has only 5% of household penetration and it plans to address this situation with its latest proposition.

Bissell’s customers are typically busy mums and people who take house cleaning seriously, pet owners and people undertaking extensive seasonal cleaning. 

The company has recently slimmed down and redesigned its deep cleaning product range, reducing it to seven models (creating a clear trade up route) and giving its products a consistent look and feel, with a distinctive white and purple colour scheme.

One of the USPs of the company’s products is the British Allergy Foundation’s Seal of Approval given also to the company’s deep cleaners and steam mops. Bissell’s deep cleaning formula contains Scotchguard protection and the components of the company’s products have built-in Microban protection preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Alistair Roberts, managing director of Bissell UK, argues that Bissell’s products, and especially its deep cleaning machines, with a broad range of consumables, are particularly suitable for the independent channel. “Bissell products, which are best in class in their categories, are already well established in the independent channel. However we hope that once independents familiarize themselves with our latest propositions they will give Bissell more support in the future.”

The company already commands 70% of deep cleaner sales (by value) in the independent channel in the UK. Bissell products and a wide range of PoS material are distributed by Birmingham-based Connect Distribution Services which also delivers product-related training to retailers stocking Bissell’s products.

In 2012, Bissell plans to launch a number of new products in all categories, including innovative steam cleaners that simultaneously vacuum and clean.

However a new move for the company is Bissell’s recent entry into the rental market with the BigGreen deep cleaning machine. Ian Weaver, head of rental at Bissell, described it as a win-win proposition for all parties: the independent retailer, the customer and the manufacturer. “The rental agreement does not require any capital investment from the retailer since machines, displays and PoS material will all be provided by Bissell. Participating dealers will receive a dedicated store support with a flexible call (and potential repair) cycle, display update and demonstrations. The customer will have seven-days-a-week access to customer care and the best in class machines at their disposal, whose performance and ergonomics are superior to the models currently used by the rental market.”

For the independent retailer the rental business will be an additional footfall driver, particularly as customers will visit the store twice – to rent and return the appliance. “The Big Green rental business will be an incremental sales opportunity for retailers, and would not lead to cannibalisation of their other sales,” argues Mr Weaver. Sales of a variety of formulas for BigGreen machine will further enhance the value of rental transactions. The marketing support of the scheme will include a dedicated website through which consumers will be able to locate participating retailers.

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