RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — Majap industry veteran John Herrington has probably seen more washers than all the moms in Minnesota and more cooktops than all the chefs in Manhattan.
A former Amana marketing VP, Herrington also served as president of sales for LG’s U.S. appliance and CE businesses, and ran Sharp Electronics Marketing Co. of America before joining Samsung Electronics America late last fall as senior VP/general manager of home appliances.
Now six months into his new job, TWICE asked Herrington about his first days at Samsung, the brand’s strategic positioning, and his take on growing pricing pressures within the industry.
TWICE: How is it being back on the appliance side after being immersed in TV?
It’s like riding a bike — you never forget. But I’ve never strayed too far from white goods; plus there are a lot of similarities between the customer bases.
TWICE: How long did it take to get up to speed at Samsung?
I’m still getting there! But I have a great team of people doing a phenomenal job of getting me up to speed on the company and our strategy, and helping me to shape it.
It’s was a great time to join. Samsung’s business is phenomenal, it has a highly dedicated team, and its product portfolio is second to none, particularly the product that’s coming to market now. And the company is continuing to make investments in the category.
TWICE: What kind of investments?
We’re heavily investing in brand awareness, around the theme of “The Next Big Thing Is Here.” Digital is playing an increasing role, and Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard will be doing TV spots for ActivWash [a new washer with a built-in sink], which we announced during the Billboard Music Awards.
We’re also piloting in-store video displays, called “CenterStage,” that are fun, educational and allow shoppers to see their appliances in different settings. Consumers are drawn to them.
So we're pulling all the levers – digital, TV, print – to continue building awareness of our brand name, and its association with great product, to draw more customers into showrooms and onto websites. Because once they’re there we convert very strongly from a visual and feature perspective.
There’s also incredible capital investment in R&D to drive continued improvements, new styling features and rapid introductions. Samsung has had great success as a result of a lot of hard work, and that fuels additional investment.
TWICE: What is Samsung’s “brand proposition” in major appliances?
We provide a mid-premium range of products across all major categories, and also deliver premium products within our Chef Collection. That’s where we really excel. It’s not inexpensive, and we even reach luxury consumers.
We’re a modern brand with exciting, contemporary products that are a combination of practical innovation and style, like ActiveWash, and our Flex Duo range and four-door FlexZone refrigerator. Every one of our categories has a value-add that surprises consumers, and is meant to make your life easier and better.
TWICE: As you grow your business, is there an opportunity to also leverage the success that Samsung has had in mobile and CE?
We’re a great marketing company and pay close attention to our consumer communications to make sure that we’re sending a consistent message and that we’re all on the same page. We also leverage our creative and media buying assets so that one plus one equals three.
On the retail side, there are category-specific discussions with our customers and there are also strategic discussions involving all categories.
TWICE: Having worked the CE side of the street you’ve seen first-hand the impact of excessive price promotions on the TV business. And yet the appliance industry seems to be going down that same path.
We work incredibly closely with our business partners and are transparent with our plans. We are highly focused on maintaining a profitable business. Retailers need to make a fair margin but they also need consumers, and we provide both.