Small Electrics Getting Social To Engage Homebound Consumers

NEW YORK— Call it a social media blitz: Small appliance manufacturers have been experimenting with innovative ways to engage consumers for several years now, but the global pandemic has ratcheted up the intensity of these efforts to new heights.

Getting the marketing message out has been a challenge due to widespread store closures, along with the near-total cancellation of special events and programs. But vendors are addressing this challenge with creative marketing options, including expanding social media platforms, providing recipes and innovative food preparation ideas, and increasing emphasis on consumer-generated content.

While it is certainly true that some appliance manufacturers already have fairly robust consumer engagement programs in place, many companies that have not necessarily done this in the past are developing or ramping up plans to interact with consumers directly. Most suppliers said they intend to continue these efforts as stay-at-home restrictions begin to ease, in order to drive traffic into stores and to continue their growth with e-commerce outlets.

“Galanz has made social media content for Facebook and Instagram to include content from product launches, cooking tips, and sharing user-generated content,” said David Geyer, director of marketing and brand management, Galanz Americas. “Because consumers are home, the major shift is that they are more engaged than ever with social media. We are trying to continue the conversation more and develop richer content. We have also spent a significant amount of time improving e-commerce content on all our retailer pages.”

Gourmia is focusing on social media and direct marketing, including Facebook and email. “People want to cook at home right now, and we believe this trend will continue even as we start to move into the next phase,” said Gourmia founder, Heshy Biegeleisen. “We have our own chef on staff, developing recipes and sharing them with our customers, who are looking for new and interesting foods to eat at home.”

Made By Gather founder and CEO Shae Hong said the company has seen across-the-board increases in its social media metrics. “Our organic impressions have grown 50% and our profile views are up 61% as compared to the four weeks pre-quarantine,” he noted.

“We are engaging our communities to create content using their products, all centered around various campaign themes, but we carefully balance marketing messages with maintaining creator authenticity.”

“We are resurfacing recipes and video content that we had already created in studio and mixing that with newer content created by influencers,” Hong added. “We’ve reached out to Facebook mom groups to create video content that captures a day in the life of working, and cooking, from home with a house full of kids, and all the crazy and mess that comes along with that.”

Madeline Frank, sales and marketing coordinator for Metal Ware Corp. and its Nesco brand, cited Pinterest, Facebook Live and email marketing as directional. “We’re seeing higher than average open and engagement rates right now. Through click-tracking, we’ve seen recipes are great ways to engage consumers and immerse them in the possibilities of the kitchen.”

“We have a few different messages that are going on right now, that all tie into one theme: ‘You’ll get through this,’” Frank added. “Our main message right now is food preservation. Most people are reducing trips to the grocery store, so they are buying in bulk. We’re showing that our dehydrators, vacuum sealers, and electric canner all keep food fresh for longer. Our second big message is that quarantine can be a fun time and doesn’t have to just mean Netflix and frozen pizzas. Why not take this time to try something you normally wouldn’t like canning your own food, or roasting your own coffee beans? Now is a great time to experiment with new recipes.”

KitchenAid is emphasizing kitchen tools to help make cooking easy and fun during the crisis, highlighted by the brand’s March 22 launch of #MakeItTogether, a global, social-first campaign to help consumers discover the joy, simplicity and comfort of cooking at home. The campaign uses Instagram and Pinterest to engage with the community through stories, gifs, games, stickers and recipes, as well as celebrity and influencer partnerships.

“We believe in the merit of making; making makes us feel happier,” said Nikki Lockett, U.S. marketing leader for KitchenAid small appliances. “It’s how we take care of ourselves and stay inspired. KitchenAid created #MakeItTogether during this time to provide useful content, inspire creativity in the kitchen and bring people together around the joy and comfort of making.”

Chefman is taking a somewhat personal approach. “With Chef iQ, we’ve launched an Instagram Stories series titled ‘Step into the Kitchen with the Chef iQ Team,’ in which our team members share their own home cooking experiences with the new smart cooker,” said Pinny Kahana, vp/sales and marketing, Chefman. “We are focused on highlighting the ease of use and enjoyment that comes with a Chefman or Chef iQ product, aiming to assure consumers that they can and will grow as home cooks during this period of home cooking. We’ve placed a high importance on social media marketing, ranging from traditional channels such as Instagram and Facebook, as well as e-commerce platforms including the newly developed Amazon Posts.”

Some companies are focusing on providing information and entertainment. “We have reorganized a lot of our marketing messages to uplifting and engaging home cooking-related content and pantry basics,” said Mary Rodgers, Cuisinart director of marketing communications. “Our goal is to serve and engage our consumers with meaningful material that inspires, educates and serves them during these times.”

Eric Endres, vp/marketing, Select Brands, added, “Content is king. We are reviewing online product content to make sure we answer any customer questions proactively. Social media is an excellent way to connect with customers during the pandemic but the message has changed: people are turning to social media and apps to keep them entertained and informed.”

Suppliers agreed that these social media marketing efforts will be crucial to helping lure customers back to retail stores once the crisis eases.

“The key is authenticity, and authenticity is something that our retail customers understand,” said Hong of Made By Gather. “We like to think of how we communicate with consumers like we would a best friend from high school. When you communicate with authenticity, you create stickiness, and that engagement is key.”