TWICE recently sat down virtually with Jim Sanduski, President, Sharp Home Electronics Company of America (SHCA) and Peter Weedfald, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing, SHCA to chat about how Sharp is bringing Simply Better Living to homeowners across the nation with their innovative and health-minded appliance lines.
TWICE: There’s been an incredible spike in consumers purchasing kitchen appliances during the pandemic, and it seems there’s not going to be a lull anytime soon. What is Sharp doing to deliver “Simply Better Living” in the kitchen?
Peter Weedfald: “Jim and his team have been driving Simply Better Living across our family of appliances – not just the kitchen – and that includes air purification and countertop products. Sharp has actually sold over 140 million countertop and/or built-in microwave doors since 1962 worldwide, and about 80 million plasmacluster ion technology – Sharp’s air purification product line – worldwide, and about two million steam ovens worldwide. It really fits under this contract of “Simply Better Living”. But phase two of this is really all about three subjects:
- Multifunctionality. How do we bring multifunctionality to the kitchen? Because people want less on their countertops and more in their ability to cook.
- Connectivity. What are we doing about a platform of connectivity, which is really important to us and important to consumers?
- Listening to and understanding how important netzero is in the home. How do we build devices that consume less electricity, consume less natural resources so that we can keep Mother Earth and everyone happy?”
TWICE: As a homeowner, multifunctionality is so important. The cooking modes on the Sharp Smart Convection Microwave Drawer Oven are a great example of saving space with multifunctionality.
PW: “The built-in convection microwave drawer with the power of microwave connected to convection – it’s got multiple levels. It is also an air fryer. It is also a warming drawer, a toaster. We’ve all been waiting for six, seven or 10 years, and we’ve listened to dealers ask, “Can you put the multifunctionality of convection together with microwaves?” And the really good news is – back to net zero – we kept it at 120 volt, and it could have been 240. But Jim with his team engineered it that way. It’s also an example of connectivity because it is Alexa enabled, plus we have an app for it.”
TWICE: Sharp’s made a big push during the 2020 winter holidays and earlier this year with their “4-U” full-kitchen suite packages, how were those received?
Jim Sanduski: “We’ve been able to roll out the complete kitchen package to a number of the independent dealers and they have been pleased with the response. With our kitchen suites, we’re looking to bring a Sharp visual brand language, which I defined as a sophisticated edge-to-edge kind of European black glass look across many of the products, and then across others – like matching handles with a dishwasher, or a refrigerator where you won’t have edge-to-edge black glass, of course, but you will have matching handles. And then we’re looking to offer a strong consumer value in that kind of mass premium space where I define value, not necessarily the lowest price, as offering the greatest combination of price + styling + features + performance.”
PW: “The dealers have been very, very happy. They’re voting with their floorspace.”
TWICE: We talked last November about Sharp’s “4-U” promotion, and one of the bonuses offered with some of the 4-U packages then was an induction cooktop. Those aren’t cheap! Why did Sharp include those as a bonus?
JS: “The market has well-established players that have been in the industry for 75 years, you know, the GE’s, the Whirlpools of the world, and then in the most recent, say 20 years, you add the Korean brands – particularly LG and Samsung – that have come into the kitchen suite market, and so as the first Japanese brand to launch the entire kitchen suite in the US market, we thought about being the “new brand” in the industry, and we had to offer something different.
Sharp is making a big push on induction because we think that that is where the industry is going to go in the future, and we want to be out in front with it. We have two induction products in the marketplace, a 30-inch and a 36-inch width induction cooktop. Induction cooking is very popular and already widely adopted in Europe. It’s really the hot trend right now in Canada, and we think that that’s going to transfer down south into the United States market.
Obviously, gas and electric are the two mainstays today, and they’re not going to disappear anytime soon. Induction combines the best of both gas cooking and electric cooking. It will heat faster than gas, you can boil water upwards of two to four minutes faster than a gas cooktop – according to a Consumer Reports study – and you can get more precise temperature control. If you want to melt chocolate or butter, you can do that with a very fine temperature control versus either electric or gas. And because it’s only the pan that conducts the energy coming from the induction cooktop, the surface actually stays cool so that spills don’t get caked on like they would with an electric cooktop. That makes it very easy to clean.”
PW: “These didn’t just appear. We [Sharp] worked on building these [induction] products for well over a year to bring to the market, but what we heard again and again from every dealer, from the big boxes themselves, and all the top merchants was: “We love induction, it is absolutely the best way to cook, but America doesn’t seem to know about it. What are you going to do, Sharp, to make a market for it?”
So how do we wake up America? What we decided to do is give the dealers an unfair share, and launch into this whole new marketplace with Sharp built-in appliances. And we decided that we would actually give away, free of charge, when you bought either a three-piece or four-piece kitchen package from Sharp, we would give you your choice of a 30-inch, or 36-inch induction cooktop. But these are fairly high end cooktops…both have white LED lighting, and they have Power Boost inside of them. I was just talking to one of the top architects and dealers across America, and they said one of the biggest problems they have with induction is people are concerned that the glass is going to get scratched. Sharp even went to the point to offer SCHOTT glass, which is highly scratch resistant, and has a beautiful finish to it for these induction cooktops.”
TWICE: Induction is an amazing technology, but some models we’ve seen are pretty thick or take up too much room below the countertop. Did Sharp account for this problem?
PW: “This is a really special induction cooktop. It’s about two and a half inches, top to bottom. tall, which means that, unlike many other inductions, you can install a full oven underneath it. You can install a built in countertop microwave oven, and again, we made sure it was engineered this way to give efficiency in the kitchen, more room in the kitchen, more room to move around. So induction is much more than it’s the best way to cook. It’s the best cooking example. It’s 90% efficient, compared to other ways of cooking, and it’s also a mark for us to say we are a mass premium player, and that’s why it was engineered and cosmetically designed with black edge-to-edge European glass, multifunctionality and connectivity. And we lead with induction followed by radiant cooktops, which we also sell, followed by other products coming in the future.”
For more information about Sharp’s appliance lineup, visit https://shop.sharpusa.com/.