Press room IFA 2017

(Interview&Insights) Aleksander Uranc, Executive Vice President, Small Domestic Appliances, Gorenje Group

“We seek differentiation and added value in design”

Small domestic appliances are a very mature segment. But with many new food and design trends constantly forming and the ever-changing lifestyles, demand for high-quality, versatile appliances is always rising. 

Design, lifestyle and user-driven innovation are also a part of the formula behind the success of the Gorenje Small Domestic Appliances segment. We discussed the cool new food trends, designer collaborations and launches of new innovative lines, as well as future lifestyles and business plans with Aleksander Uranc, Executive Vice President of Small Domestic Appliances, Gorenje Group.

What new small domestic appliances is Gorenje unveiling at the IFA 2017?

Aleksander Uranc: The biggest novelty that we are unveiling at the IFA 2017 is our new generation of Gorenje G•FORCE vacuum cleaners. We invested in the development of a completely new generation of bag and cyclonic models in different price ranges and sizes that already comply with the new EU regulations regarding energy consumption. We are also showcasing a comprehensive range of Gorenje by Ora ïto designer collection of small appliances, and the Gorenje RETRO collection that will be launched in the markets in the beginning of 2018. We are also premiering the Sport Power blender Head by Gorenje, created in cooperation with the world-famous lifestyle brand Head.

What are the main game-changing features of your newest small domestic appliances?

AU: Small domestic appliances are a mature segment with no major game-changing features, so our direction is to be up to date with the newest, most innovative technology that we build into all our appliances. Moreover, we are dedicated to providing users seemingly small, yet life simplifying features that can make their everyday lives easier. On the other hand, we seek differentiation and added value in design. We strive to bring new products for different users’ lifestyles. Like the RETRO Collection, for example, in which we look for synergies with the already successful concepts launched in the major domestic appliances category. 

Speaking of which, Gorenje is a household name and it is renowned as a design-driven brand. This year, you've launched the upgraded and extended Gorenje by Ora ïto collection that now for the first time ever includes a matching collection of small kitchen appliances. What makes it different?

AU: The new collection is an exciting new step for the Gorenje SDA segment. All products are 100% matching, meaning they are co-designed in the same visual direction. This way, consumers can select one or more products that will have a matching look and feel, and fit perfectly in the kitchen. The collection consists of the most important kitchen appliances for food preparation: toaster and kettle, blender, hand blender, hand mixer and kitchen scale, and they all have special colour soft-touch finish that gives them unique appearance. Select models also feature a special user interface with LED light controls for easier use. The collection is truly unique and it will be quite differentiated from the competition. I am sure it will stand out at the points of sale and draw the attention of the more design-aware users with an eye for superb, modern design, looking for easy-to-use appliances.

And what do consumers look for or appreciate more: design or technology?

AU: Design is quite an important part of product selection. Appliances are often integral parts of the kitchen, so the aesthetic aspect of the appliances is, in many cases, one of the decisive factors for purchase decision. Also, ergonomics and ease of use are major factors in the buying process. Technology is also important, especially in the form of new innovations such as vacuum blenders or super silent motors. Of course the best choice for consumers is always the best possible combination of reliable technology, design and price.

IFA 2017 showcases the latest trends in technology and consumer electronics, and the latter reflect the latest and upcoming trends. How do food trends affect the SDA?

AU: Trends have a major impact on the small domestic appliance segment. One of the more obvious trends affecting this segment is healthy living. There is an increasing number of products targeting this trend, like smoothie makers, slow juicers and so on. We have already launched a line of high-quality products Vitaway, perfect for health-conscious consumers. This line also features some truly unique products, like the oil press that allows users to prepare healthy fresh oil at home. In general, homemade food and meals are now more popular, which could be attributed to the many cooking shows and blogs. Home cooks are turning into home chefs, and our Chef’s Collection of premium and versatile kitchen appliances can further simplify their quest to make ‘all-star’ dishes.

And what are some of the coolest food trends you’ve noticed at this year’s IFA?

AU: Zero food waste and smart cooking with leftover ingredients is a very inspiring approach. And our small appliances can be of great help with such recipes. Also, healthy snacks. I noticed that preparing small plates is on the rise, as are healthier snack options, so we will see more lower-sugar, high-protein bites. And have you heard about the healthy fried snacks? Our Gorenje air fryers are ideal for making crunchy, healthy bites. 

At last year's IFA, Gorenje announced the launch of the Gorenje Retro Special Edition refrigerator, designed in collaboration with Volkswagen. The fridge inspired by Volkswagen’s iconic Minibus van is now in the markets. Can you tell us more about the collaboration? 

AU: The Gorenje Retro Special Edition fridge freezer is an excellent combination of two products that fit perfectly together – Gorenje RETRO fridge and the iconic Volkswagen van. Together they create a powerful storytelling product that brings freshness to the otherwise less exciting world of fridges. The product uses the unmistakable visual identity of the retro Minibus van and combines it with modern technology. That was the idea, the driving force from the beginning of our collaboration. Such brand collaborations always have added value and positive effects for all brands involved. And of course, it impresses the users.

Speaking of which, how did consumers respond to it?

AU: In general, this is a product that brings a smile to almost everyone’s face, and reactions to the Gorenje Retro Special Edition fridge were very positive across all markets. It is a success, and I am thrilled to announce that the Gorenje Retro Special Edition fridge freezers will soon also be available in select Volkswagen dealerships.

And they are already available at Gorenje business units. What else does the future hold for Gorenje's SDA?

AU: The future looks very bright. The small domestic appliance segment is currently one of the fastest growing segments at Gorenje Group with 30% growth of sales in both last year and this year. We have many products on our roadmap that will make our product assortment more attractive and our offer more competitive. We are rapidly expanding to new markets, and we are increasing our market shares in the existing ones. Also, we are entering a new segment of personal care with the recently launched Beauty Collection. And of course, many other ideas and projects are already in progress so stay tuned for our small but must-have novelties.