How much has the pandemic changed us? Perhaps it is still too early to give definitive answers to this question. What is certain is that something fundamental has already happened and we all know it: we have rediscovered domesticity. We are spending much more time in our homes, sharing activities and spaces; and we have also caught the pain points: what doesn't work, what could make our life easier and more enjoyable every day. If, for example, until a year ago what we cared about most was connectivity (being able to tell the oven to turn on while we were still in the car, on the way back from work would have been really useful) today we ask appliances for functions evolved, versatility and capacity. But above all silence.
We have spoken with this change of pace in the desires of consumers in the fields of technology with Paolo Lioy, CEO of Whirlpool Italia.
“Connectivity was used as a marketing theme”, confirms Paolo Lioy, “the products communicated that they were new and therefore connected and implicitly better”. Now this tension to the IoT as an end in itself has passed. “What benefit can a connected washing machine that I turn on remotely bring us? Certainly fewer advantages than a home automation control of heating and air conditioning or security regulation”, continues the CEO of Whirlpool. “To be consistent with our vision, we want to improve the lives of our customers in their homes. If the connection is the only power on from the smartphone we are not making a great improvement. Our products have useful interactivity and therefore are equipped with advanced service components, which really improve different domestic activities”.
“We are studying a connectivity that improves services and durability, a theme dear to customers”, continues Lioy. “The remote control of the devices allows to reduce the visits of the technicians; we will be able to interact with the machines and in many cases repair them without leaving. Having monitored the machine and understood the repair to be done, the technician will intervene with the correct spare parts and with a very small margin of inaccuracy. This is the useful technology”.
Doing a predictive analysis of faults and better managing the operation of household appliances, including their consumption, means being sustainable.Whirlpool's intuitive 6th Sense technology optimizes water, energy and time consumption to ensure the best results with minimal waste of resources.
Silence, we are working
This last year has been revolutionary. The relationship with the home has profoundly changed and our desire to feel good in the spaces we live has increased. “We are using all our appliances a lot more”, confirms Paolo Lioy, “and expectations for functionality also rise. A theme that emerged in a preponderant way is that of the silence of the products. We want washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers to be performing, capacious, multifunction ... now also very quiet. We work at home and often near a domestic appliance, so we want to respect the quality and comfort of our living and also of working remotely”.
Big is beautiful
Families have increased the amount of dishes and clothes to wash, food supplies have become more abundant and cooking has become a slower activity. This is why many have replaced their old appliances with newer and larger models.
Staying at home we cook more and in a differentiated way; we are looking for larger and multifunction ovens, as well as more spacious refrigerators.
“Some product lines have undergone an unexpected acceleration”, confirms Lioy, “among these the very ovens which are asked for superior performance. With our products it is possible to carry out multilevel cooking of up to four dishes at the same time without mixing aromas within the same cavity and with functions that lead to the desired temperature quickly to save energy and time. Even the induction hobs, with increasingly popular power regulators, allow perfect and fast cooking, always saving money”.
Be informed and attentive
Consumers are well informed and increasingly attentive to choices, even in this sector. During the first phase of the pandemic, research focused on antibacterial properties and the use of steam to sanitize. The cleanliness had become fundamental. “For some of our products, the issue of sanitation is central. With Hotpoint Gentle Power washing machine with steam technology ”, Lioy specifies, “99.9% of bacteria is removed, and therefore also bad odors, guaranteeing a long-lasting freshness of the fabrics”.
According to the IoT Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, household appliances represent 20% of the market (up 17%), characterized by an expansion of the ‘connected’ offer and with some types, such as robot vacuum cleaners and air purifier , which marked a boom in sales. The use of smart features by consumers is also growing, accounting for 59% of those who own large and small household appliances (+ 19%) but with an increasing attention to real functionality.
Last but not least
Concludes Paolo Lioy, CEO of Whirlpool Italia, “our appliances have always followed the style trends of the home and kitchen spaces. We have for years indulged an extreme minimalism by inventing the oven without a handle. Now the trends tell us that colors are back, the opaque surface treatment prevails but, above all, there is great attention to the real functionality of the appliances and their ability to make our homes comfortable and pleasant. Appliances and their connectivity do not serve to define a spectacular stage, but to make efficient and lighten our diverse and increasingly numerous daily activities”.
Cover photo and above, the four-door refrigerator from the Whirlpool W Collection. It stands out for its flexible and adjustable interior space and for a series of technologies that prolong food storage.