ThermieMania – The Secret Release…

Katherine Gracey & Jane Honeyman

I have one.  I am happy to admit it and I am also happy to admit that I love my Thermomix!  I am not at cult like obsessions but it has made my life that little bit easier and my kids are eating a lot better!

I took me some time to justify the $2k price point for a kitchen appliance but once I got over that bump (AKA Husband), I was quite happy when my little thermie arrived…but it could have been a very different story…

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Why do companies release new products??  To be innovative, to keep up with the competition and to retain or attract new customers.  These are all important factors.  And at the core of any new product development and of course its impending release, is the customer.

Thermomix have only one model in their lineup at any given time.  There are plenty of add ons; accessories and cook books which not only complement their product but also drive revenue and profit.  But they are unique.  It had been over 7 years since their last model was released and there were no signs at all that a new model was coming.

Typically, for an organization like Thermomix where the retail price is high, they would need to look at moving through the old model so that they could introduce a new one.  This is standard to any product lifecycle. And it would look a little something like this:

  1. Tell your VERY loyal customers a new model is on the way
  2. BUT if you are happy with the high performing TM31 Thermomix help us move some of stock at the special price of $XXX or
  3. If you do not want the old model and much prefer the new one, then you need to wait and it will be more expensive.

The launch and timing of any new product is critical.  It is critical to the marketing plan, it is critical to the company and it is critical to the customer.

Over the 14 years since Thermomix was first brought to Australia it has amassed a loyal, fiery following; 200,000 Australians purchased the unit, many buying into the belief that ‘Thermomix is a way of life’ (Bennett, T, 2014).  However, a significant number of this group turned on their beloved appliance brand when a new model was released without significant notice or build-up. Unlike Apple, a similarly strong brand with a devoted following, there was no series of targeted leaks to make sure everyone knew a model was in the works.

The TM5 was only $50 more expensive than its predecessor.  Thermomix is sold through the in-home demonstration market, with many consumers purchasing their unit from friends and family (Bennett, T, 2014).  Even their consultants were unaware of a new model being released.

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Why?  Why would a successful company feel they need to not follow the process of new product development? The words DECEIVE, OUTRAGE and SCANDAL were all synonymous to Thermomix once their new model hit the market.   Not only were the fundamentals of product position and development lost, but their brand was tarnished.  It even won a “Shonky Award” from Choice magazine (News.com.au, October 14 2014.)

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And here is what Facebook had to say:

“I cannot even express how disappointed I am to find out about the new model 3 weeks after I get my machine. A tiny small 3 weeks… I would have been happy to wait, and either but the new model or buy the same model at a discounted price.. I feel ripped off.. First time since I heard about thermomix that I have nothing nice to say.”

“I purchased a Thermomix recently after directly asking the consultant if there were a new model coming out. She denied there was any new model. A month later, the new Thermomix is released.”

“I’ve only had my machine for two weeks and was not given the option to purchase the old model at a reduced rate OR buy the new model.”

Social media went ‘off’.  2000 people had already liked the ‘Themormix Unhappy Customer’ page by the following day.

Some customers were so frustrated that they even set up a Change.org petition.

And it took Thermomix some time to even release a statement:

“Thanks for taking the time to contact us to express your disappointment, we apologise for our delayed response.

The Australian launch of the Thermomix Model 5 was conducted in line with global brand compliance in accordance with our distribution arrangements. We are deeply sorry that this has resulted in some customers feeling disappointed.

As you can appreciate we value every one of our customers so this is not an ideal situation for everyone involved and we understand your position and take it very seriously.

The TM31 is and always will be an excellent appliance and will continue to be supported just as we have with the previous model the TM21 and we ask for your patience as we work towards addressing your concerns.

Please understand that we also have a commitment to support the broader Thermomix community with the posting of recipes and tips on our Facebook page. We are currently working with our team to address the concerns of those customers that recently purchased a TM31 and will continue to be committed to providing the best level of service to our very passionate customer base in the hope that we can continue our Thermomix journey together.” (Avenell, P 2014)

Hmmmm…. delayed response.

This all could have been avoided.  As a result bad PR, brand trust had been lost and customer satisfaction low.  Was it worth it?

P.S. I received the new Thermomix…had I ordered it week earlier, I would have demanded a refund.

Take a look and see what all the hype is about (and have a bit of laugh)!

References

Bennett, T 2014, “Mixed up Business: How Thermomix Surprised its fans, tried to win them back and opened the doors to rivals”, 19 September 2014, retrieved 20 April 2015, http://www.applianceretailer.com.au/2014/09/thermomix-scandal/#.VTRMdyGqqko

Avenell, P 2014, “Thermomix Australia Apologises to Angry Customers”, 14 September 2014, retrieved 20 April 2015, http://www.applianceretailer.com.au/2014/09/thermomix-australia-apologises-angry-customers/#.VTRQFCGeDGc

 

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2 thoughts on “ThermieMania – The Secret Release…

  1. I remember reading the media reports when this issue first came to light, and I also remember thinking ‘what a first world problem!’ However, given the cost of purchase and the lack of prior warning I can also understand customers’ frustration.
    It is difficult to imagine how Thermomix managed to so completely misread the potential backlash from the product launch strategy they adopted, and the subsequent cost to the brand loyalty they had so heavily invested in.
    Trust is a precious and fragile virtue – so hard earned and easily lost. Like in any relationship – whether personal or corporate – it relies on honest, timely communication and a genuine care for others, neither of which was demonstrated in Thermomix’s product launch.
    Ironically, it is the strong brand loyalty of Thermomix customers that has contributed to the extent of the customer backlash, and which should have made the launch of a new product relatively easier. So how should the introduction of a new product been managed?
    1. Promotion: Give the market more warning of the arrival of a new and innovative product. By drip feeding information and giving clear timelines (much like Apple’s product launch model) the would have avoided alienating existing clients, and also managed to increase publicity in the lead up.
    2. Pricing: As a new and innovative product, you would expect it to be able to command a reasonable premium on the superseded model. In fact, there was probably no reason that both products could not coexist in the market at different price points – certainly until the older model had sold out of existing stock.
    3. Segmenting and targeting: It would be interesting to know who Thermomix saw as the primary target market for the new model. Was is intended to simply supersede the old model, inheriting the same segmenting and targeting? Or did they foresee the opportunity to target existing Thermomix customers who may want to upgrade? If so, the split pricing model would make even more sense.
    I would imagine that when their next new model is ready to launch, they will take a very different approach to managing the customer communications. It is just a shame that these lessons had to be learnt through bitter experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “dinner porridge” hahahahaha

    I do remember seeing some of these comments pop up on my Facebook newsfeed at the time of the ‘incident’ and recall thinking that many of the customers were crying over spilt milk. You have a $2000 to spend on a kitchen appliance – you are going to be OK!

    The sense of entitlement displayed by the customers annoyed me – ‘you have a new product, what are you going to give me??’.

    When I purchased my car, i paid extra to have bluetooth installed, and only a month later the car was then released with bluetooth as standard. I didn’t call to complain, i just thought it was bad luck on my part and moved on.

    How many brands truly pre-inform customers of a new product line??

    Liked by 1 person

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