Understand brand marketing to spend wisely on your next refrigerator, range, or dishwasher.
Synopsis: Just how much better is a $1800 dishwasher than a $500 dishwasher? Will a Sub-Zero refrigerator keep your milk colder than one from Whirlpool? In this article, contributing editor Sean Groom investigates how brand marketing impacts your choices—and your budget—when you shop for kitchen appliances. He explains how manufacturers target different consumers with different features, and how pricing is used to keep buyers within a manufacturer’s brand. Taking a close look at the three main categories of kitchen appliances (cooktops, stoves, and ranges; refrigerators; and dishwashers) he spells out what features and performance buyers are likely to find no matter what their price point.
Whether you’re building a new kitchen or updating the appliances in your old one, you’ll quickly discover a dizzying universe of proliferating product lines and models with only slight differences between them—leaving you wondering how to get the best value for your dollar.
The multitude of appliance brands and models available today is no accident. Manufacturers purposely target narrow market segments by both price and cooking interest. Each appliance brand or collection aims at a focus-group-tested and divided market, often with a backstory or character traits assigned. GE, for instance, breaks kitchen users into four types: aspirer (passionate but learning), enthusiast (passionate with ability), laborer (ambivalent with ability), and reluctant (without enthusiasm or ability). The features bestowed on a model depend on the consumer segment it targets, overlaid with a “good-better-best” marketing strategy. For example, Bosch has its 300, 500, and 800 series of appliances. GE has its Profile, Café, and Monogram collections, and it recently added the Artistry series.
Another strategy is for a large holding company to market different brands targeted at different types of customers. Frigidaire and Electrolux, for example, are the “value” and “upscale” brands of the same company. And…