Consumer need and advertising are the most important driving factors behind vacuum cleaner sales in virtually all classes of trade. And, the two are closely linked: The reason there is so much vacuum cleaner advertising, retailers said, is because 80 percent of sales are for replacement, rather than first-time, vacuums.
When a consumer’s vacuum breaks down, she (the majority of vac purchasers are female) needs it sooner rather than later and peruses ads to see what she might want to buy. Since hundreds of thousands of vacuums are replaced every year, manufacturers and retailers want to make a statement with strong ads. Some of the latest include.
* “Dirt Devil vacs at prices worth sweeping up–$44.97 for stick vac, $59.99 for upright and $139 for upright with tools on board”
* “Affordable cleaning help from Regina–$26.88 for stick vac, $118.88 to $138.88 for upright models with tools on board”
* “Hoover–Powerful savings on upright vacuums–$99.99 for canister, $189.99 for power team, $79.99 to $149.99 for tools-on-board upright models”
Major manufacturer consumer advertising topped $55 million in 1993–versus $74.3 million in 1992–according to Competitive Media Repo9rting (CMR), a New York firm that tracks 10 different media to provide information on competitive spending. The firm reported that Royal, Hoover, Eureka and Regina spent $20.6 million, $16 million, $11 million and $8 million, respectively, in 1993. (Industry sources estimate Hoover’s actual advertising expenditure at more than $20 million.) This compares with $47 million, $14 million, $7.3 million and $8 million for the same manufacturers in 1992, according to CMR.
The continual bombardment of advertising in different classes of trade has increased consumer awareness of what’s available at merchant outlets and department stores.
“Consumers in the market for a vacuum cleaner shop the newspaper because they are used to buying them on sale,” said Kmart senior buyer Dennis Dorn. “Those companies and retailers in front of her with national advertising do well. A vacuum is generally not something that is impulse… She planned, saw an ad and noticed something different.”
“Customers are savvy to what mass merchants are carrying, which forces us to be much more sharp in all of our strategies,” commented one department store buyer.
Print ads–effective because of their lasting power–are one of the most important advertising media. “I’m going to advertise in a restaurant delivery service guide that stays around for three months,” said Betty Smith, co-owner of Atlanta-based Mr. Sweeper Stores Inc. “Other than that, I wish I had money for television but it would use up my budget in one or two ads. For now, I’m sticking with print, which has been effective. We have grown quite a bit compared to other vac stores in the city that don’t advertise as often.”
Panasonic has found that teaming up with retailers to run dealer ads that highlight features have been very effective in attracting consumer attention, according to national marketing manager Jim Rogers.
While most manufacturers fully support cooperative print advertising programs, television is the big motivator of vacuum sales. Royal is a proponent of television advertising, generating interest with its frequently aired commercials featuring chairman John Balch and Sam the Dirt Devil dog. The company said it will continue to use television to drive sales. In doing so, Royal expects to make more impressions in 1994 than 1993. Print and radio will be used by TV will account for the bulk of its advertising.
Meanwhile, Hoover’s key campaign for 1994 is under the theme “Nobody Does It Like Hoover,” which consists of several different spots airing throughout the year to reinforce brand awareness.
Home shopping is another way that vendors get national television exposure. White-Westinghouse Floor Care Co.’s 10-amp upright vacuum and 12-pack vacuum bags were touted on QVC in December, according to president Bruce Gold, who reported that $1 million worth of goods were sold in 70 minutes. The company do has set television exposure this year through cable and games shows, he added.
Gary Gosztonyi, vice president marketing/sales for Ryobi Motor Corp.’s floor-care division, said its Singer brand is getting exposure through TV game-show sponsorship and print advertising in leading women’s magazines. It also has participated in home shopping and sees this area growing for vacuum cleaner sales.