LAS VEGAS— For more than 65 years, Friedrich has stayed true to its roots, manufacturing room air conditioning solutions here in North America. The company has also remained selective in its retail partnerships, looking to the independent and power regional channels to support sales and growth.
In order to remain a profit center to its retail partners, Michael Brief, Friedrich director of retail sales for North America, said the company is set to continue its approach while advancing its marketing and product development strategy to meet the needs of today’s consumer.
Brief noted that while the air conditioning segment relies heavily on brick-and-mortar due to the education necessary to purchase and install the products, e-commerce has had its impact on the segment. Marketing, for example, has evolved in recent years to include digital content for today’s consumer, and Brief noted that the company has continued to evolve its approach to suit how today’s shopper wants to research and shop its products.
“We have absolutely put a lot of effort into our marketing department and thought into how we go about giving our customers what they need. You have to adapt with the times, there’s no doubt about it,” Brief said. “Things are shifting towards lifestyle imagery and video content as well. People want to watch a short video and be told how to install and use the product. It’s like a little storybook. Social media has also become very important, and really impacts how you need to reach your customer through different channels.”
In addition, Brief noted, e-commerce has driven the growth of consumer reviews. Consumers have come to depend on the recommendations of their peers, making post-sales service a key component for the business.
“They would much rather see what their neighbors and friends and even complete strangers think. Consumers do believe that there will be more honesty, both the good and the bad, so it’s very important that you keep your customers happy and provide great post sales service,” he said.
Brief emphasized that the company’s call center has not been outsourced, and remains located in San Antonio to offer the best service to its customers.
When it comes to product development, Friedrich will unveil the latest iteration of its single hose portable air conditioner and WiFi powered Kühl line at this year’s National Hardware Show.
The company has redesigned its single-hose ZoneAire Compact portable unit for homeowners looking for spot air conditioning solutions. The three-in-one, 115-volt unit serves as an air conditioner, a dehumidifier and a heater. The updated unit features a large LED display, a rotary dial four-speed fan and temperature adjustment controls, along with an easy to install and secure hose attachment.
The 17-inch unit also includes swivel casters and a built-in hose storage compartment, making it suitable for personal cooling or heating on the go.
The line has also been expanded to include a new 12,000 BTU unit. This model also offers Bonus Heat performance capabilities with 12,300 BTU.
“Portables are an increasingly popular choice especially for homeowners who don’t want to waste energy by cooling or heating areas in their home they aren’t using. This sleek little personal air conditioner can go wherever it is most needed,” said Brief.
New for the WiFi Kühl line in 2018, Friedrich will introduce its updated FriedrichLink WiFi. The cloud-based digital solution features easy installation and a simplified user experience, Brief noted, making remote management more streamlined and straightforward.
The line’s WiFi capabilities allow for precise programming with the ability to connect multiple units, as well as demand response and energy management capabilities, via connected devices.
“There’s no doubt homeowners want smart and connected capabilities, but they need to be simple to operate and intuitive,” said Brief. “We’re excited about our new FriedrichLink platform, which we plan to integrate into many more of our products in the near future.”