CES 2016: 5 Questions With Whirlpool Brand Manager Chelsey Lindstrom

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Whirlpool

Whirlpool has been pivoting hard toward a more holistic, purpose-based message in advertising its appliances and also toward harnessing digital technology to make its products more capable and eligible for integration into the smart home systems on parade at CES 2016.

Expanding on its successful 2015 CES campaign, the Whirlpool brand’s “Every day, care” campaign has inspired fresh innovations and smart appliances on display at the show in Las Vegas demonstrating “the way families care for each other,” as Whirlpool said in a release, as well as a project that uses smart home technology to help families in need.

“Out of the 20,000 gadgets introduced at CES, we believe the ones that are the most powerful fill a human need,” stated Whirlpool brand manager Chelsey Lindstrom. “The best technology should allow us to be more human, helping us care for the people, the community and the world around us.”

To back up its sentiments, as part of its CES 2016 presence Whirlpool is demonstrating an “Interactive Kitchen of the Future” that “simulates a day in the life of a dad caring for his family” in a smart-kitchen ecosystem; how its app works with Nest and Amazon Dash Replenishment; and how its smart top-load washer and dryer use technology allow families to automatically donate to others in need through the brand’s proprietary Connect to care program.

brandchannel talked with Lindstrom about CES, about “Every day, care,” and about the actual appliance innovations that Whirlpool is launching and developing:

bc: What is the Whirlpool brand’s strategy and message at CES 2016?

Chelsey Lindstrom: It’s a great opportunity to share innovations and to showcase new products and talk about all the different features and talk about how they ladder up to ensuring that we’re providing true consumer value. We want to make sure all of our features are rooted in insight and make sure we’re addressing needs—not just technology for technology’s sake. It’s important to demonstrate that at CES.

bc: What are you showing this week?

Lindstrom: Well, we have a smart refrigerator with a design that consumers have never seen before. We looked at global consumer trends, at what people shop most for that they put in the refrigerator and how they organize it. We found that taller items are the ones they shop for the most, and use the most. When people access taller items in the refrigerator, they often push all the smaller items in back of them. So we designed u-shaped shelves inspired by a pantry, on the perimeter. You put small items on the perimeter and the larger number of tall items go in the middle of the interior. It creates about 30 percent more shelf space than a traditional refrigerator and makes sure all of your items are very visible. Everything is very clearly lit. You don’t “lose” anything.

bc: What are the taller products that consumers tend to be buying more of? Presumably beverages?

Lindstrom: For instance, a wine bottle sometimes can’t traditionally fit in a refrigerator, especially if you uncork it; it can be difficult to put the cork in and then put the bottle back in the refrigerator. Or a two-liter bottle of pop.

We also created spaces for flat items like pizza boxes or casserole dishes. We have a space particularly for those items that isn’t hard to access: a sliding shelf.

bc: You’re also demonstrating what you’re calling a Smart Kitchen Suite with the CareSync system. What’s that?

Lindstrom: It’s a fully-connected kitchen, including a smart french-door refrigerator which comes in a connected and non-connected version, and a connected range, and dishwasher. One really cool thing about the connected suite is that they’re integrated with some of our partnerships, including Nest.

What’s beneficial for consumers in that, for example, is that if your Nest is set to “away” mode and senses that your oven is on, you’ll actually get a push notification that your Nest is set to “away” and your oven is on. That might be OK, because you’re just running an errand—or you may have forgotten that your oven is on.

There’s also a cool integration with the Amazon Dash Replenishment service. It works with the dishwasher and with the washing machine and reorders detergent for you so you never run out. It can determine if you’re on a certain threshold of having “x” amount left and can automatically reorder either detergent through your Amazon account. All of this will be in the market by fall, while the refrigerator itself will launch in May.

bc: How has the ongoing “Every day, care” campaign that you launched last year benefited the Whirlpool brand?

Lindstrom: It’s been amazing. It really has been infused not only through our campaign but also through our organization. As we think about features we’re bringing to market and talking about specific features, they are all laddering up to this helping families thrive and better care for their loved ones using appliances. It’s amazing to see how people have embraced the campaign. We monitor the media line and daily we get e-mails and phone calls from consumers who appreciate how much we talk about these appliances and how they’re part of people’s lives and how we showcase real-life scenarios that are relatable and true.

Below, watch the promo for the Connect to care™ Program at CES 2016 and get more insights in our branding Q&A series.

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