By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Best Buy has added BSH Home Appliances' premium Siemens brand to its assortment in a move that's blurring and re-defining the traditional channels of distribution within the major appliance industry.
Although the nationwide rollout marks the U.S. debut of the Siemens brand in white goods, which should help limit channel conflict, the European line is a sister in construction, design, price and parentage to the high-end Bosch and Gaggenau brands, which maintain controlled, two-step distribution here.
The rollout, which began in November with dishwashers and small appliances, represents an expansion of Best Buy's strategy of offering step-up alternatives, including LG and Samsung refrigerators and laundry products, to mainstream majap vendors like Maytag, Whirlpool, Frigidaire and GE. The tactic serves to better differentiate and insulate the No. 4 majap chain from low-priced rivals Lowe's and The Home Depot, which have been aggressively gaining market share at the expense of Best Buy and Sears.
Best Buy is expected to expand its Siemens assortment later this year to include laundry products and freestanding ranges.
BSH director of brand marketing Michael Bohn described Best Buy, with its focus on technology and innovative products, as the "perfect venue" to introduce Siemens into the U.S. market. He recalled that in talks with the chain, both discovered that they shared similar customer profiles. "Both Best Buy and Siemens are innovators and target modern, open-minded individuals with a sense of style and an affinity for new technologies," he said.
Bohn noted that the brand is exclusive to Best Buy during the introductory period only, and that BSH will be looking to expand its Siemens dealer presence following the initial rollout. "The Siemens-Best Buy relationship is the first step to establishing the Siemens home appliance brand in the U.S.," he said.
The first dishwasher offering includes at least six SKUs that range in price from $549 to $999, and vary by finish and such features as a concealed control panel. The machines offer "unrivaled cleaning effectiveness," BSH said, along with "exceptionally quiet operation," thanks to the use of special insulating materials and noise-reduced drive units.
The units also boast a patented hydroSensor that automatically checks soil type and level with an optical sensor to determine the amount of fresh water needed for the load. The savings, said BSH, can amount to as much as 2.4 gallons of water per wash.
Other features include a sensor that shuts the unit off in the event of a leak, and recessed heating elements that prevent plastic dishware from melting and bending.
Outside, the dishwashers have a clean, contemporary styling that reflects their European heritage.
BSH is breaking with its two-step tradition by shipping the dishwashers direct to Best Buy. The units are crafted domestically at the vendor's manufacturing facility in New Bern, N.C., which it will now share with brand mates Bosch and Gaggenau. Bohn said Siemens, while comparable in quality, would become "more differentiated" from its sister brands going forward.
Also joining Best Buy's Siemens assortment is a blender, food processor and an iron. The retailer also carries Siemens mobile phones and modems.
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