Maytag Looks To Reposition Amana Brand

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Amana is getting a makeover.

Ten months after acquiring the venerable white goods vendor from Goodman Holdings for $325 million, Maytag has mapped out a new role for Amana as it finds its place within the manufacturer's expanded brand portfolio.

According to brand manager Janel Dufek, the game plan calls for creating a new persona for Amana through advertising, licensing and product development, and to fix that positioning with a new generation of consumers.

At the same time, Maytag is returning the brand to its traditional distribution roots by re-embracing the independent dealer channel.

As Dufek explained, Maytag will continue as the dependable, mass-market line within the company's brand trilogy, while the super premium Jenn-Air platform remains aimed at an older, more upscale remodeling market. Amana, by contrast, will target 30- to 44-year-old women "who want style but not high fashion, and trendy aesthetics but not fads" by playing off the brand's practical innovations and distinctive, contemporary design, she said.

The image of refrigeration innovation, based on such recent introductions as a water-dispensing bottom mount and in-door voice recorder Messenger model, is an extension of consumers' perception of Amana as a quality brand with a craftsmanship heritage, Dufek noted. Maytag hopes to use that reputation, and the endorsement of its current, aging user demographic, as a launch pad to younger consumers who had previously considered Amana to be "their mothers' or grandmothers' refrigerator," she said.

To get the message across, Maytag is breaking a four execution print campaign under the tagline "The art of common sense" in June issues of Child, In Style, Martha Stewart Living and other shelter publications.

Amana had begun to tap into the 30-44 demographic with a humorous "Funny Women" campaign during the end of its Goodman period, but felt that the self-deprecating tone of the ads was out of step with current sensibilities.

The new ads are also comedic but take a lighter tack, as in the pitch for the Messenger. "Touch the cake and you're toast. Love, Mom," the copy reads.

To draw future customers to the brand, Maytag has licensed the Amana name to small appliance marketer Cela for a line of sleek kitchen electrics aimed at the 20-something crowd. The collection, set to hit stores this fall, includes a cordless iron, a convection toaster oven and a 15-cup coffeemaker. "We want to familiarize younger consumers with the brand as they begin to move through life," Dufek said.

Meanwhile, Maytag is returning Amana to its independent dealer roots following an on again, off again flirtation with Best Buy. "They aren't carrying the full line, and our target audiences are very different," Dufek explained. "Best Buy needs to hit value price points. People who shop for appliances there are looking for minimal features."

And while Amana will continue to sell to No. 2 home improvement chain Lowe's, Maytag is working on a "derivative strategy" that will provide different models and price points to each distribution channel. "Amana has traditionally been an independent dealer brand, and we want to get back to that," Dufek said. "We offer them good margins."

Looking back over the past 10 months, Dufek noted that following some initial concerns, the integration of Amana into Maytag "went wonderfully."

"It's been a long time since we've been owned by a consumer-savvy organization," she said. "And given industry consolidation and offshore competition, it was necessary for our survival."

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