Whirlpool's tips for marketing innovation

22 February 2017

LAS VEGAS: Brand owners seeking to take cutting-edge technologies from the experimental towards the mainstream could benefit from using a model based on "pioneers", "settlers" and "urban planners", an executive from Whirlpool has argued.

Niels Aillaud, the Head of Whirlpool's Head of Digital Center of Excellence, discussed this topic during a session held at CES 2017.

And he suggested that a three-tiered system can help a house of brands like Whirlpool – which owns Maytag, Indesit, KitchenAid and a range of other offerings alongside its eponymous appliance line – drive marketing innovation.

Having identified an interesting new tool, service or solution, he continued, the first step involves finding early adopters within a company's four walls.

"You need a group that are the 'pioneers' – [people who] will try quickly and see what works and what doesn't work," said Aillaud. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: Whirlpool's digital marketing priorities for 2017.)

Should the initial tests prove promising, the next phase is to find "settlers", or brands that are "willing to invest based on the early results," and so set a precedent for others to follow.

If the previous two phases yield success, "then you've got your urban planners, and you deploy this across the organization," said Aillaud.

Whirlpool's Digital Center of Excellence is well placed to assist in driving this process, as its work is subject to fewer constraints than that of its brands, which have – for instance – pre-planned budget allocations and rigid timelines to meet.

"Our brands can't always be as flexible," Aillaud said. "We, as a Center of Excellence, can be more flexible. We can be the spear, and then let them actually follow and embrace it."

Equally, however, when Whirlpool's digital hub is seeking to explore new areas of innovation, it does face limitations in manpower and resources.

In some cases, Aillaud explained, funding new projects thus depends on "the output and the success of our brands", as this can demonstrate if its marketers have entered the "urban planner" stage on once-pioneering digital techniques.

"Are they evolving and getting better and getting better in some areas?" Aillaud asked. If the answer is positive, "I could pull resources away and focus on the next wave.

"I think the key is always making sure that you have a structure in your organization that can be adapted and can respond to those environments."

Data sourced from Warc