This week, Nationwide Marketing Group hosted its second fully-remote trade show, Virtual PrimeTime. While everyone can agree that there’s great anticipation for the return of live events, the on-demand shows have their perks, evidenced by the favorable attendance rates and the exceptional feedback from attendees. Hank Alexander, director of Home Technology Specialists Nationwide, admitted that even when the social-distanced era is safely tucked in our memories, a portion of the show likely will remain virtual.
The biggest news coming out of the custom integration space for Nationwide was its partnership with CEDIA. Expanding education opportunities for members has long been a goal for Nationwide. When it comes to distinguished certifications, CEDIA was an obvious choice, Alexander explained.
Better education for dealers, Alexander says, is a win-win for everyone. Nationwide members will be able to access the CEDIA learning platform directly from Nationwide’s Exchange site, and they will be given a $200 credit, which gives members a head start to explore high-demand topics such as lighting design, networking, security as well as an up-and-comer: air purification systems. These ever-evolving spaces require ongoing continuing education, Alexander noted, something members will receive through the CEDIA platform.
The retailers who weathered the COVID storm were those with a strong digital presence, Alexander said. Business who quickly pivoted to online showrooms, digital transactions and “Buy Online Pick-Up in Store” or BOPIS tactics, while also taking advantage of Nationwide’s support with personal protective equipment, are seeing their efforts pay off and can capitalize on emerging trends.
Among those trends is the outdoor category, which is “exploding,” according to Alexander. Furion’s outdoor TV line as well as Samsung’s Terrace TV have been “massive” in the market. Coupled with outdoor speakers from leaders like Klipsch, and the ongoing trend of bringing grande experiences to the home will only strengthen.
Luxury Appliance Focus
Welcoming luxurious, yet highly personal, innovations into the home is a mindset that will not soon go by the wayside. Manufacturers, now more than ever, are introducing highly functional, intelligent and connected solutions to the market that not only serve consumers but offer convenience at the highest level. Take the luxury appliance market, for example. According to John O’Halloran, who leads Nationwide’s luxury appliance division, this category accounts for more than $3.7 billion, which is “dominated by the independent dealer.”
Nationwide is partnering with Monogram, with plans to expand to other manufacturers in the future, to help Nationwide members update their web content so consumers receive the same high-touch experience on the web as they would in store, O’Halloran explained. The organization will assist with constructing strategic digital campaigns with the goal of driving more conversion.
At this year’s virtual show Monogram demonstrated, as part of its Statement Collection, the 48″ Dual-Fuel Professional Range with four burners, grill and griddle. According to Alex Ochsner, Monogram’s Training Development Senior Manager, the range was given Architectural Digest’s gold medal for great design, with its edge-to-edge handle design, solid brass knobs and accents, in addition to a full-width window appearance.
Ochsner touted the “power and muscle” of the new range, with its 23,000 BTU multi-ring burner as well as its flexibility to reach high temperatures quickly. Alternatively, it can “back down” to simmering temps for smaller pots and more “delicate” operations, such as melting chocolate.
Incorporating brass is eye-catching as well as functional, considering the thermal properties of the metal and its ability to stand up to corrosion, Ochsner explained. The range comes with cleaning instructions specifically for brass but also includes black burner caps for swapping out.
The range also features an “industry exclusive” True Temp burner, which incorporates the induction Hestan smart pan, which is embedded with temperature sensors and Bluetooth technology. According to Ochsner, it is the first gas burner that allows you to set and maintain a specific pan temperature and control, mimicking an induction cooktop.
Additional features include: built-in WiFI; three-piece grate with reversible wok feature; hot air fry mode; and articulating 7-inch LCD touchscreen.
The mantra at BSH Home Appliances is to “improve the quality of life at home” and “fully delight those who trust us.” Their efforts to “make people smile” are evidenced in company’s Fresh By Design line of refrigerators, which are both smart and convenient. The FarmFresh System incorporates four technologies: VitalPreshPro, FreshProtect, MultiAirFlow and AirFresh filter. The counter-depth design allows it to sit flush with the counters and blend with design.
BSH’s built-in coffee maker also features modern design combined with intuitive features. The all-in-one design does not require additional plumbing or extra water line. The brewing system works in a pressurized chamber for optimal brewing conditions.
All BSH appliances can be controlled by the company’s HomeConnect app. Homeowners can manage tasks; remotely monitor the refrigerator, dishwasher and oven (preheating and gathering new recipes); as well as start brewing coffee from anywhere.
Self-proclaiming itself as the “most human-centric” appliance brand in the world,” Fisher & Paykel, National Training Manager, LaRon Doucet, Jr., says the company “pays attention to how people live and interact with their homes.” As the kitchen continues to be the “heart of the home,” or “social kitchen,” Doucet, Jr. says Fisher and Paykel strives to introduce products and features that enhance these experiences. Under the umbrella dubbed “Beauty of Choice,” there are five facets to the company’s product line: Minimal, Contemporary, Professional, Classic and Outdoor.
Within those five facets are another five considerations Fisher & Paykel focuses on:
- Design to Fit: Products are produced in a way that they blend into any scenario
- Beautiful to Use: Quality at all touchpoints; solid stainless steel that “feels good” to the user and interfaces that make sense
- Perfect Results: Cooking, food preservation, dish drawers and cleanliness are all tested to ensure quality
- Built to Last: All products are tested to make sure they live as long as the home
- Respect for the Planet: ensuring products have low energy and water consumption
Among the innovations Fisher & Paykel displayed was the Series 9 series of Pro Ranges. The ranges feature dual flow burners; pedestal feature so the cooktop does not get as hot, and the ability for the burners to reach high temperatures quickly but go down to 140 degree simmer state.
The new liftable touchscreen provides a wealth of information and showcases new features such as “Cook by Function,” which includes new options such as, Air Fry, Pizza Bake and Slow Cook. Users can also choose to “Cook By Recipe.”
Speaking to the personalization trend, Samsung showcased its BESPOKE line of refrigerators, which come with customizable panels for its 24-inch column-style fridge as well as the 24-inch bottom-freezer design. Homeowners can style by color and finish with eight possibilities. The 4-Door Flex line of fridges comes with an interior water dispenser as well as a AutoFill Water Pitcher. It also cubed and nugget-style ice.
Samsung’s products are also connected through the company’s SmartThings app and Family Hub. The SmartThings app is also compatible with Google Nest products. According to the company’s website: “SmartThings users can also incorporate Nest devices into their current WWST-certified devices to create Scenes and automated experiences, controlling the functions with simple voice commands or through the SmartThings app. Soon, users will be able to stream right from their Nest devices directly to their Samsung TV or Family Hub fridge.”
A sign of the times and the growing concern for increased sanitation and cleanliness is Samsung’s AirDresser. Released as a staple for the home closet, this product refreshes and purifies clothing. It steams wrinkles, removes odors and lifts 99.9 percent of common bacteria from fabrics.
Design, high-functionality, luxury convenience and intelligence convened at this year’s PrimeTime.
Stephanie is the Senior Managing Editor for Connected Design.