They said it couldn't be done.
But in the three short years since LG Electronics debuted its tech-heavy white goods line at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, the Korean powerhouse has made a place for itself within the crowded U.S. market with major placements at Best Buy, Fry's, H.H. Gregg, P.C. Richard & Son and other top chains.
That success speaks for itself within NPD's Houseworld rankings, where LG's entry-level WM1832C front-loading washer placed fourth in category dollar volume for the 12-month period of June 2003 through May 2004, its first full year on the market. (The company's step-up WM2032H placed 10th.)
No mean feat, considering the competition: Maytag, which helped usher in the front-load configuration with its breakthrough Neptune platform, and Whirlpool, which defined the category with its best-selling Duet laundry pair.
So how did LG's entry, trade name Tromm, climb so far so fast? According to former Amana exec John Herrington, now VP/sales at LG's Digital Appliance division, the 1832's sales success speaks to "the integration of simple, well-designed electronics with great looks and all of the features associated with front-loaders." Those include an industry-leading 3.72-cubic-foot capacity; a large, ergonomically-correct opening; and a compelling efficiency story in its miserly use of water and electricity.
"The product had the features that consumers are looking for," Herrington said, including such bells and whistles as illuminated controls and an oversized dial-a-cycle jogg wheel. "The consumer is also sensitive to style, even in the laundry room, and we have hit that well," he noted.
Herrington is also quick to credit his "great customers, who really embraced the brand," and a "solid retail training team" that reflects LG's investment in, and support of, the line.
Going forward, LG is hoping to build on its success with the introduction of a stackable, next-generation Tromm featuring up-front, rather than rear-panel, controls.
Top 10 Front-Loading Washing Machines
Dollar sales at retail, June 2003 – May 2004