By Jacques Leroy
Whirlpool has thrived for more than 100 years by making significant business model changes to stay customer centric. Our vision of “loyal customers for life” means we need to stay active, current and available – especially for the empowered consumer.
It’s no surprise customers today are embracing and using technology in all aspects of their lives through an array of devices and channels. In our business, social networks such as Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are now the main resources for brand information. The numbers are eye-opening and intimidating all at once.
- Last year, there were 1.3 billion mobile phones shipped globally.
- 7 billion pieces of content such as links, news, posts etc. are shared each week via social media.
- One trillion connected devices will be in place by 2015.
The opportunity for Whirlpool Europe to reach and interact with these connected customers is significant, but there are challenges.
The good news: The total e-commerce market in Europe is actually larger and growing faster than in the U.S. The Euro e-commerce market grew 18.2 percent to $259.5 billion last year. By comparison, all American e-retailers grew 16.1 percent last year to $194.3 billion.
The bad news: In a very short time we’ve had a banking crisis, and now we’re dealing with the Euro political and economical crisis. So customers today are nervous about their financial future. Competition in Europe is also intense, with pricing pressures per individual market, and the need to keep pace with new innovations, such as environmental labeling, constants.
The key to success today? Be relevant and speak to customers how, when, and where they want to be spoken to. Marketing no longer means targeting a big demographic group. You need to listen to your consumer and understand individual needs, so you can tailor real-time campaigns, pricing, and promotions across thousands of offers that are individualized for millions of customers. For us, IBM framework and eCommerce tools are great contributor.
Whirlpool Europe ensures positive customer experiences across all touch-points by delivering content and communications relevant to each individual recipient. Through this personalization, we can go beyond the advertising channels and deliver information requested and promotions that provide real value to the consumer. This has allowed our teams in Europe to gain trust with customers, which in turn drives loyalty and revenue. With analytics, marketing, and closer interaction with our consumers, Whirlpool is becoming more appealing as a brand and gets to influence the next generation of product and services requested by consumers.
Winning online is also a big part of our strategy. For instance, we’ve worked with IBM to create kiosks with our key partners such as Home Depot, Best Buy, and Sears, so that customers can easily buy Whirlpool appliances in these stores.
We are also working in Europe toward enriching product information with marketing that has relative details that were requested by our consumers across multiple channels.
The Whirlpool vision reinforces the idea that every home is our domain, every customer and customer activity our opportunity. This vision fuels the passion we have for our customers, pushing us to continue to provide innovative solutions for today’s consumers.