With the Government’s energy bill support scheme now at an end, and Water UK warning of the biggest increase to water bills in almost two decades, homeowners are facing daunting household costs. Whirlpool MD Lena Henry reveals the advice retailers can pass on to help families adapt.
Q: What advice can retailers pass on to consumers to help them cut back on their energy and water bills when using their appliances?
A: The advice that’s easiest to implement and useful to almost every consumer is to make full use of the eco-friendly settings on appliances whenever possible. It’s imperative to understand the meaning of the setting for each appliance, and what the setting means in relation to the task at hand. For example, it’s important to know that when selecting the eco-friendly setting on a dishwasher or washing machine, these cycles often take a bit longer than the alternative but save a considerable amount of energy. On a practical level, it’s very useful to familiarise consumers with these differences so they feel more comfortable using the eco-settings regularly. For the consumer, this might mean timing their laundry differently to fit in the longer cycle time of the eco-friendly setting. With eco-settings saving a considerable amount of energy, opting for them not only benefits consumers in their contribution to the environmental cause, but will also be reflected in their bills.
In a way, the cost-of-living crisis has presented an opportunity to connect the importance of sustainability with consumers’ budgetary concerns. Retailers should be emphasising and demonstrating how consumers can hit two birds with one stone by getting up to speed on their eco-friendly settings.
Q: Do you think these arguments resonate enough with consumers to help retailers make that sale?
A: We think conversations about sustainability impact retailers’ ability to make sales immensely, because of how much we know consumers truly value sustainability. We’re seeing more and more consumers looking into the sustainability of the products they’re buying, even as the cost-of-living crisis continues. This tells us that despite global conditions and crises, consumers’ concern about the environment prevails. Retailers would be smart to keep this knowledge in mind while trying to make sales – emphasising the advantages of their products in terms of sustainability can go a long way in the buyers’ mind.
Unsurprisingly, consumers can be very inclined toward appliances that are not only designed with sustainability in mind, but also help them cut down on their bills.
Q: How important is it for retailers to continually refresh their knowledge of appliances to keep up to date with energy and water-saving innovations?
A: Appliances are getting smarter every day, due to advances in technology, the uptick in the public’s concern for the environment, and the cost-of-living crisis increasing energy and water bills. Manufacturers are realising they will have to engineer products to an eco-friendlier standard in order to hit their sales targets. This means that retailers have a lot to keep up with, as new ways of saving energy and water are being engineered into appliances. For example, Whirlpool’s heat pump dryers save up to 60% in energy compared to other dryers – knowledge that could go a long way in making a sale. A retailer who hasn’t brushed up on their knowledge could miss a sale by neglecting such a persuasive fact.
Q: Does having a plugged-in model for showroom demonstrations help pass on this kind of information to consumers?
A: We believe models are great ways to demonstrate the features of appliances to consumers and retail staff, to spread the thorough understanding of our products as far as possible. That’s why we invested in a fully operational cook school within our World of Whirlpool showroom at our UK HQ in Peterborough. This is a vital facility to help our trade partners truly understand the consumer benefits of key technologies by using the appliances themselves.
Q: What support does Whirlpool currently offer its retail customers when it comes to selling appliances with eco functionality?
A: Providing support to retailers is crucial to help ensure the most important messages and features are accurately relayed to consumers. This is why Whirlpool invests in both in-store and digital training and provides a range of POS and other marketing materials for retailers’ use, as well as offering regular visits to our national showroom in Peterborough.