Advertisements are very important to vacuum cleaner sales

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.

See more: Sears offers a variety of different brands as well as its own Kenmore vacuum cleaners

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.

Household vacuum cleaner manufacturers plan to introduce

Eureka’s entry into the extractor business, Regina’s introduction of an entirely new and redesigned line of extractors, combined with heavy ad plans from these players as well as Hoover, Bissell and Ryobi are making extractors the linchpin in one of the floor care segment’s most aggressive marketing battles in recent years, said retailers and vendors attending last week’s International Housewares Show here.

While all the attention is expected to help the category, which is expected to reach annual unit sales of 2 million units by year end, the flood of new products is squeezing existing shelf space. The result could mean a realignment of existing floor care sections as retailers search for space for the fast-growing category.

“There is obviously not room for all of these products, ” said the floor care buyer for one mass merchant. “We win have to make some careful choices. ”

“We expect that some retailers may pare their upright assortment from say 12 to 10 SKUs to make room for more extractors,” noted David Baker, product director for uprights, canisters and bags at Hoover

Whatever the decision, floor care vendors at this show disclosed their intention to make the fight for floor space as active as any the industry has seen. Eureka reported its largest ever ad campaign for 1996 to support not only its new Dream Machine upright extractor, but its full line of vacs.

Hoover, which rolled out its second generation Steam Vac in time for the fourth quarter, reported exceptional sales. The unit, which features five rotating brushes for fuller cleaning, also got an update here with the addition of a model with on-board tools.

“We’re not convinced that all consumers want on-board tools for an extractor,” said Brian Girdlestone, Hoover’s president. “It’s not quite the same as with an upright, where you want to take the wand and clean the stairs or between the sofa cushions. But for those consumers who like that feature, we wanted to give them that option.”

In addition to its extractor refinements, Hoover showcased its new Twist & Vac hand vacuum cleaner with rotating head. The nozzle on the unit rotates 90 degrees to facilitate cleaning in tight spots.

Bissell, which gave birth to the category at mass retail with its infomercials for the little and Big Green Clean Machines, added to its”Green” family at the show here last week with the introduction of the Little Green Deluxe, spot extractor and window cleaner.

“Extractors are becoming a very competitive segment,” said Bill Coad, Bissell’s president. “It’s been a strong growth area and as a result we’re seeing a lot of new players coming into the category.”

The company plans an aggressive advertising campaign that includes spots on popular television shows such as NBC’s Mad About You, for both its extractors and its Bissell Plus upright.

“We are committed to being the number one share of voice in the extractor segment,” said Jim Krzeminski, vice president of sales and marketing at Bissell.

See more: Sears offers a variety of different brands as well as its own Kenmore vacuum cleaners

Regina took the wraps off three new upright extractors at the show, sporting redesinged designed body shapes, ergonomic handle designs, electronic shampoo release, new colors and packaging all designed to help the company regain its extractor share.

“We want to get in and re-establish ourselves as a player,” said Patrick Dinley, president of Norelco, Regina’s parent company. “We’ve fixed the quality issues, now we are going to concentrate on the marketing and product development sides. ”

In addition to the three new extractors, which are scheduled for third-quarter release, and hit promotional retails of $99, $129 and $149, the company unveiled a new line of uprights

The models range from 8 to 12 amps and have brush rolls from 12 to 16 inches. The new line along with Regina’s extractors and sticks has been completely repackaged to create a family look across the full assortment.

Ryobi, which will launch an infomercial this spring for its WipeOut spot extractor, took the wraps off its new web site here (see story page 76). The new site, which includes floor-care tips on things such as stain removal is one component in the company’s plans to expand awareness for its steadily growing product line.

Royal Appliance, was as active off the show floor as on, combining promotion of its new Broom Vac on the floor with private showings of its newest generation of hand vacs as well as a more fully featured upright, “that will allow us to hit a price point north of $150,” according to Michael Merriman, Royal’s chief executive.

The Broom Vac, an infomercial for which began on infomercial Dec. 26, “has exceeded our expectations,” said Merriman. He noted that the company hopes to create a new category with the product, which, according to the vac buyer for one consumer electronics and appliance chain, “is one of the really exciting products I’ve seen at this show. It has excellent suction and it’s really something different. “

Sears offers a variety of different brands as well as its own Kenmore vacuum cleaners

One evening Gene Steinhoff, a Sears Brand Central sales associate, was straightening up a vacuum cleaner display in the Livingston, N.J., Sears outlet when a stern-looking woman marched toward her and barked out a series of questions concerning deep cleaning products.

The woman said she was not interested in deep cleaning machines but in Scotchgard carpet protectors used in conjunction with the devices.

Steinhoff calmly explained how certain carpet protectors are more difficult to use than others and how some deep cleaning machines will actually remove Scotchgard applied to the rug. A discussion of the features of one machine ensued.

The once hostile customer was completely disarmed and walked out of the store a short time later content that she got the answer for which she had come. And she promised to return for the right deep cleaning machine.

Sears spokesman Perry Chlan said Steinhoff’s performance was a textbook example of the secret that has kept Sears the number-one floor care retailer in the country for many years. The chain insists on having knowledgable sales help armed with well-edited product assortments.

“You have to be competitive and have merchandise, but consumers don’t have to shop long to find a bargain,” Chlan said. “Our significant advantage is we have the trained sales associates who are there to assist customers.”

Both the store and Sears headquarters offer a variety of programs and methods to keep sales associates abreast of the latest products and sales techniques.

Sears headquarters provides ongoing available training via a special computer tutorial program that teaches sales associates general product information.

Training at the store level comes through manuals and meetings with department heads whenever necessary. Meetings to discuss new business occur almost every Saturday morning in many stores, and most allocate a minimum of two hours per week to sales-associate training.

On rarer occasions, such as when a special promotion is about to take place, sales associates will receive instruction from vendor trainers.

Steinhoff said the sales technique she used with the deep-cleaing customer that night was called “the counselor method” of salesmanship. It centers on qualifying customers according to their needs and narrowing down the store’s selection to the product best suited to that individual.

Harry Vellines, divisional merchandise manager of home appliances at Sears, said Sears’ merchandising strategy is to arm its sales associates with the broadest product assortment possible so the needs of the customer are met every time. A typical Sears outlet will carry in excess of 40 models of full-size vacs, wet/vacs, hand vacs and deep cleaning machines.

He said straight suction canister vacuums, which account for the largest section of the assortment, tend to appeal to customers who have hardwood floors, while models with power nozzles attract consumers who want to remove dirt buried deep in the carpet fibers. Typical retail prices for such products range from $59.99 to $399.99. How to Select the Best Vacuum Under 200

While Sears leads the canister business, it also sees big growth opportunities in uprights. Similar to canister vacs, its merchandising strategy in uprights is to offer a broad range of models, ranging from $59.99 to $399.99.

“Uprights are a major piece of the floor care business in the United States,” Vellines said, citing statistics that show uprights represent 70 percent of industry sales. “And we’re going to take care of that customer as well.”

Last fall, Sears carried attached-tool uprights in addition to more conventional models. The Brand Central department carries such names as Hoover and Eureka, which compete with comparable Proformance and Power Center models in Sears’ private-label Kenmore brand.

We’re not pushing any model over any other,” Vellines said. “Just like a car dealership sells different brands that consumers become attached to, we carry different brands like Hoover and Eureka.”

So far, Proformance models are said to be emerging as a strong seller because they filter out fine dust particles and emit only clean air.

Another area Sears is developing is deep cleaning machines. The chain currently carries models from Bissell and Regina in the $149 to $279 range.

In order to effectively merchandise the overall floor care assortment, displays are arranged in a step-up fashion so consumers can easily inspect the various product segments with the sales associate. For example, a consumer interested in straight suction canister vacs would be guided to one location where all those particular models would be arranged from lowest to highest-number of features. Prices generally climb accordingly.

“We display each floor care segment by section because a customer who wants a straight suction canister doesn’t need to be looking at everything else,” Vellines said. “It is confusing.” Vellines said customers know Sears has the right products through continual newspaper advertising, featuring sale prices on selected machines. Sears maintains a price-competitve posture, he said, and will even match prices on advertised items in local mass market promotions. If a mass merchant wants to take a Hoover vacuum cleaner to an incredibly low price, we’ll match it if we have it on sale