No matter where you live, there’s a good chance that an appliance from The Electrolux Group is your kitchen. The Stockholm, Sweden-based company sells more than 50 million appliance products to customers in 150 countries every year.
But each of those brands needs someone to oversee their licensing opportunities, and that’s where Electrolux Global Brand Licensing comes in. The business unit, based in Stockholm, Sweden, and Charlotte N.C., develops the licensing opportunities for the company’s product lines including Frigidaire, Eureka, AEG, Zanussi, Kelvinator and Philco.
“There are 46 active brands in the Electrolux Group,” Vice President and Head of Global Brand Licensing Ciarán Coyle says. “Across all those brands is circa $2.8 billion in retail value. That would make the Electrolux Group one of the top-20 licensors in the world.
“Most of our brands have been around for a very long time,” he continues, adding that Electrolux products have always reflected key consumer and cooking trends, which have demanded speed, efficiency, versatility and sustainability. “The kitchen and great tasting food are at the heart of many of our brands, including Electrolux, Frigidaire, Molteni, Grand Cuisine, AEG and Zanussi. Did you know that half the Michelin starred chefs in the world use Electrolux products?!”
Electrolux has achieved its leadership status by making decisions that make sense for each brand, Coyle says. For example, each time Electrolux grants a license for a new product, it must be a great extension of that brand.
Frigidaire has launched a comprehensive range of home comfort products that builds on its extensive refrigeration expertise and “keeping cool” equity. “It makes perfect sense,” Coyle says.
Electrolux also has followed a policy of working with highly regarded partners that are a good match for the brands, he says. Among these partners is NORDYNE, an O’Fallon, Mo.-based indoor comfort systems manufacturer that makes high quality air conditioners under the Frigidaire brand.
In Europe, The AEG brand has 37 licensing partners, producing products in both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business segments. “The AEG brand has great history and equity in engineering and design,” Coyle notes. “Our licensed products range from power generation to consumer electronics to toys!”
But before Electrolux forms a partnership, it has to make sure the potential licensee has the essential knowledge, design skills and distribution capabilities. “It’s about making sure we do our due diligence, when we are intending to work with a new partner,” he says.
With Electrolux’s own auditing units, “We not only look at their numbers inside and out, but also their design and manufacturing capability,” Coyle says. “We will look at whether the potential partner is a good fit for our business and what the advantages of the business partnership would be. For example, will the partner bring innovation or creativity to the overall program.
“We spend a lot of time making sure we have the right partner from the start,” he says, noting that this evaluation lasts even through the prototyping stages. “It’s really about ensuring quality.”
Electrolux also has to make sure its partners are firmly committed to the company. Although relationships in other industries can be brief, “Some of our partners have been with us for 20 years or more,” he says. “You want to work with partners that are in it for the long haul.”
Electrolux’s current projects include new cookware products that will be sold under the Frigidaire brand. Though it has long specialized in appliances that keep things cool, “We also have a new range of storage containers that fit perfectly in the fridge,” he says.
He adds that Electrolux has expanded Frigidaire’s lines with LED televisions in South America. If there is consumer demand for the TVs in other markets, “We’ll respond to that,” Coyle says.
But Electrolux would do extensive testing first. “The whole category of TVs and ‘brown goods’ is a very competitive space,” he asserts. “You want to make sure if you’re going to compete in that space that you’re going to do well in it.”
Another avenue Electrolux is exploring is the notion of “the connected home,” and ways to link it with the homeowners’ refrigerators and other appliances. With this technology, “You could talk to the fridge and know the products you need to stock up on,” Coyle says. “And you could do it from anywhere on your tablet or smart phone.”
Electrolux also is focused on sustainable initiatives, including solar energy-powered products from Volta and Zanussi, and water purification products that will soon be launched in Europe under the Electrolux brand. “Water and food purification products are already available in India under the Electrolux and Kelvinator brands and, in Europe, under the AEG brand,” he adds.
The Right Way
Coyle joined Global Brand Licensing late last year, after spending 11 years at Beanstalk, a global brand extension agency. There, he was president of the company’s business in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
“What sold me on Electrolux was the company culture,” he recalls. “There is a great spirit amongst the staff and tremendous opportunity to grow the business in the right way.”
Coyle believes there is a strong future for the company going forward as Electrolux continues to explore green energy and find innovative new ways to connect people with their homes.
“It’s about the application of technology for the customer’s benefit,” he states. “If you can understand what it is that the customer wants and what the customer needs, that can lead to a very sustainable, brand-enhancing business.”