Creating a first class experience

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With its Creative Living programme Miele aims to establish an emotional connection between the company’s customers and its appliances. Dominic Worsley, Miele marketing director, told Anna Ryland how Miele is going to inspire its customers about the brand and help its retailer partners to capitalise on this inspiration.

In May 2012, Miele launched its Creative Living programme which is a range of events, courses and demonstrations designed to inspire customers in the kitchen and help them to create the kitchen space of their dreams.

Dominic Worsley, Miele marketing director, explained the origins of the initiative.

“We spent a lot of time thinking how we can make selective distribution work harder for the dealer, particularly on the kitchen side. We have developed a programme that does two things: helps consumers to engage with Miele and turns this inspiration into sales leads for retailers. We called this programme Creative Living. We greatly increased the number of events and their range with an objective of getting a broader range of consumer engaging with the brand.”

One part of this programme is Kitchen Secrets – the events themed around three elements: food, drink and design.

“Food is about cooking a variety of produce and dishes and we will put our customers in touch with experts who will help them do this. We have also developed foraging events during which people go to the woods in search of mushrooms and other wild produce and then cook them. We already work with a number of cookery schools around the country. We are also planning to run a street food market at the end of the summer in Abingdon.

“We are also working with Johnny Grey and his colleagues on kitchen design. Customers buying a new kitchen are facing a daunting prospect and it’s up to our designers to help them integrate their personality and individuality into their kitchens and show them how their kitchen interacts with other spaces in their homes. With these insights people can go to their designers and realize their dreams.”

With Miele Drink events customers will learn about the UK independent brewers, vineyards and cider makers, and the experts will guide them through the characteristics of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The courses include Wine Pairing, Champagne, Whisky, Cider and coffee.

Kitchen Secrets is one of four events categories in the Creative Living programme. The other three are Let’s Do…, Appliances Masterclass and Simply Cooking.

For anyone who’s planning a kitchen but hasn’t yet decided which Miele appliances to include, the Let’s Do events demonstrate the features of the company’s built-in range, while Miele home economists prepare a two-course meal using these appliances.

Appliance Masterclasses are designed for the customers who purchased new Miele appliances and want to get the best from them. Miele home economists will guide them through features, technical and culinary possibilities.

Miele Simply Cooking Courses are designed to teach the participants everything from bread making, cupcake baking to classic British, Italian, French or Indian cuisine. The courses are hands-on, all-day events, including a lunch.

“With this programme Miele wanted to double the number of consumers with whom the company engages. Last year there were approximately 6,000 consumers attending our events; this year we want to get 12,000. Once we made an initial contact with them we can asses where they are in the kitchen buying process. Hence we segment them into the short and long term prospects. We will invite the first group for a Let’s Do Lunch event. These events are very effective in converting interest into sales. These consumers usually end up buying more than six products, selecting higher value products and switching from, for example, microwaves to steam ovens.

“One of the objectives of these efforts is to influence customers’ thinking about purchasing electrical products – separately from kitchen furniture. People often are taken by overall kitchen design and forget that the hardest working element of their kitchen are appliances, therefore they should be selected carefully.

“These efforts are also about opening the brand to a wider consumer market: Miele is a premium brand but there are many products which are affordable to first time buyers.”

Supporting retail partners

“The second objective of this programme is to help the retailer to add real value to their relationship with the consumer – which will help them to compete with online suppliers.

“We have team of home economists and a team of sales product specialists and they are at the disposal of our retail partners. We can deliver ‘Let’s do Lunch’ in any cookery school in the UK – these facilities and skills are transferable.

“Our retail partners can send their customers on any of the courses, via our booking facility, and in the near future we’re planning to introduce course vouchers. We work with c. 350 kitchen studios in the UK and we want them to get more involved with Miele and these programmes are to help them differentiate their offers to consumers.

“Miele will continue to support our kitchen partners in growing their business. It’s our key market segment, currently accounting for three quarters of our built-in revenues.”

Focus on performance and delivery

“The other area of the business we are looking at is delivery. We have launched a Miele-branded delivery fleet to retailers – which was a £600,000 investment for us. Its aim is to achieve the two-day delivery time. Most retailers don’t have space to hold large stocks but if the product breaks down it’s crucial that the retailer gets it to the customer fast.

“Underpinning the quality of Miele appliances are warranties: five-year warranty on laundry appliances up to £1,000, above this we offer a ten-year warranty. However longevity is only half the story, the performance is the other half. Our machines wash clothes very well. Hence we need to focus our activities also on performance.

“As a part of Creative Living we have just launched the Connoisseur Club for people who have bought eight appliances and more. We give them a hamper of food, vouches for accessories, we offer to go to their homes and teach them to cook on the new products and they have a priority access to the advice line.

“Miele has grown in the UK mainly through word-of-mouth. With the new programme we are hoping to build on this. We anticipate that the programme will help us develop more awareness among consumers and more desire for our products, and we hope retailers will be able to tap into this desire. We know how good Miele products are but we want consumers to find this out for themselves.”

Looking at a wide picture, Mr Worsley, said: “2011 was a good year for Miele: the company strongly grew its market share in laundry and dishwashers, and achieved sales growth in floorcare. Our global sales revenue was over 3 billion euro. The German market delivered strong growth for us but we also doubled our investment in the UK.

“Miele products have fantastic credentials (in the 2012 Which? Appliance reliability survey, Miele was the best brand overall), and we aim to become the UK’s most desired household brand. We want people to aspire to buy Miele. But, no doubt, this will take some time to achieve.”

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