Armed with a new management team and the return of its corporate nameplate, Electrolux's U.S. floor care subsidiary Eureka is making good on its mandate to shake up the marketplace.
This fall, the company fired both barrels of a dual-branded assault on the imploding vacuum cleaner business with an overhauled Eureka mass merchant line and a freshly minted Electrolux platform designed to serve and expand the upper reaches of the market.
Both collections employ new concepts, high performance and innovative features to better meet consumer needs, and to support the higher price points that, the company is gambling, will break it free of the industry's under-$100 rut.
"The floor care business has been buffeted by severe economic forces, many of them self-induced," observed Eureka president Dan Clifford, who joined the operation 15 months ago from Whirlpool. "The industry has under-invested in the consumer, there's been no meaningful communication, and commoditization has accelerated over the last two years."
Clifford's boss, Electrolux global floor care president Magnus Yngen, concurred. "This industry is stuck," he told TWICE. "There's price pressure, commoditization, and the shopping experience is bewildering." The answer, they argue, lies in a sweeping overhaul of the way vacuums are designed, marketed and merchandised. For Electrolux/ Eureka, that meant extensive consumer studies, new brand positioning, TV and print ad campaigns (breaking this fall), and innovative visual merchandising designed to demystify the shopping experience and convey product benefits.
The latter, of course, relies on the cooperation of Eureka's retail partners, but Clifford believes that's forthcoming. "Retailers are interested in any proposition that will grow their businesses. They have seen diminishing returns in floor care and want to rebuild their assets," he said.
"Retailers are looking for a reason to believe. They're saying, help me grow the business. And I'm convinced that we can build back price points, because consumers will pay for meaningful innovation."