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Haier Taking Lifestyle Approach To Product Lines

WAYNE, N.J. — Haier America has broken down the walls between its appliance and CE lines, both literally and figuratively, to create a new lifestyle approach for pitching its products.

The company, a division of China’s mighty Haier Group, has developed a series of lifestyle vignettes within its spacious new headquarters and showroom here, which reflects various stages in a consumer’s life and suggests ways that the items can be packaged and cross-merchandised at retail.

The vignettes, which meld Haier’s mass premium majap and CE lines, include:
• “Kitchen Living,” showing a full complement of kitchen appliances;
• “Mancave,” featuring an LCD TV, soundbar, minifridge and wine cooler;
• “Nursery,” replete with quiet-cool AC, dehumidifier, air cleaner and heating units;
• “University,” which recreates a dorm room with a TV, microwave oven and compact fridge;
• “Haier Fresh,” a laundry room concept with top loaders, air fresheners and ironing/steaming units; and
• “Small Space Living,” which presents compact majaps for renters, urban dwellers and downsized empty nesters.

Rian Cain, sales and marketing senior VP, said Haier already had the products in place, but is presenting them in new and novel ways as the company relaunches itself in the marketplace as the “New Haier.”

The new push follows last year’s acquisition by Haier Group of what had been a privately held North American sales and marketing arm founded by Michael Jemal – and the departure of Jemal lieutenant Shariff Kan, who ran the business as president/CEO.

In their place is a largely new management team led by former Whirlpool global engineering VP Adrian Micu.

Other recent hires include ex-Mitsubishi manager Gina Copeland, as air quality senior VP; GE vet Paul Riley, overseeing majap sales and marketing; and longtime Whirlpool exec Sanjay Gupta, who heads product platform development.

Rian, previously sales and marketing VP at American TV & Appliance, joined the company in 2013, as did former Sharp home entertainment sales exec John Homlish, who now serves as senior VP of Haier’s digital living business unit.

The new Haier America is more majap-centric, the executives said, and will be less focused on its valuepriced volume business with home-improvement and discount chains as its seeks new opportunities with buying groups, furniture stores and CE/majap dealers with assisted sales floors.

“Retailers are waiting for a Chinese brand to break out,” Homlish said, “to provide another option beyond Korea.”

To stoke the fires, Haier is developing turnkey display and product packages for the lifestyle groupings and is eager to work with distributors and retailers that “get” the merchandising approach, Cain noted.

“It allows us to show consumers the possibilities, not just tell them, and it’s setting the framework for who we are going forward,” he said.

The concept is expected to be showcased this week at International CES, where Haier is ensconced in booth 9405 in the Central Hall.