What could cause me to hop on a plane bound for Chicago not two days after I was home from BlogHer 10 in NYC?
I was invited to a peek behind the scenes at Kenmore’s headquarters and to a taping (Food Bloggers vs MomBloggers) at the Kenmore Live Studio. I was intrigued.
First of all, I grew up with Kenmore. You probably did too. I took a quick twitter poll of what people thought of when they thought Kenmore:
The first part of the presentation at Kenmore was about the brand itself. We learned how it has changed over the years (not a lot actually), and what the public perception of the Kenmore brand is (reliable, affordable, quality).
Then they gave us a peek at what was new, and that was a LOT. The new square (blog friendly!) logo, the look, feel and functionality of every last item in their lines: everything about the brand is evolving. This is immediately understood in the gut when you glance at the completely re-engineered line of smaller appliances. And not just the appliances. The packaging as well. It’s colorful and boasts Kenmore’s new signature font. But what’s not changing is the price point and that reassuring sense of solidity and quality.
What do you think of this new packaging? I looked at the old (drab, boring – sorry Sears!) packaging and the new packaging side by side and no question, I’d want to buy the item in the updated box more. In the box and out, the smaller appliances looked and felt nice. Solid. I couldn’t help but think the food processor and mixer seemed comparable to the Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid items in my own home. Not quite professional line but definitely high end home use products meant to stand the test of time.
What comes to mind for me when I think of Kenmore, however, are the major appliances. I was very interested to learn what was next in the world of washers and dryers and fridges. This is the stuff I use every day, day in and out.
What I didn’t know/realize about the entire Kenmore product line and their branding scheme is how carefully crafted and in sync all the new appliances are. From the font on the logo that is on every product (same as what is on the small appliances) to the colors they have chosen, to the signature blue lighting on washer/dryer and refrigerator doors, to the unique sound profiles on the refrigerator, washer and dryer and dishwashers: no detail is to small to consider. Much thought has been given to these things and making them cohesive. It’s part of what gives the brand an identity, a familiarity. Which of course is what we love about Kenmore. Familiarity. It’s just a new way to look at it. What makes things familiar today is different than what made things familiar twenty years ago. Today we are familiar with our iPod touch and our iPhone…
Which is precisely why I was excited to preview the new touch screen functionality that Kenmore is rolling out on their appliances this fall. I’m happy/unhappy to report these appliances gave me a bad case of the consumer lusties. I’m easily convinced that laundry is more fun when your washer command screen can be stroked and poked like an iPad. All kidding aside, touch screen functionality does give much greater flexibility with choosing cycles (and designing your own preferred wash settings).
Other exciting developments in the world of Kenmore appliances are an in-the-door icemaker on their new high end refrigerator with bottom drawer freezer. This frees up all that extra space on the inside of the fridge for your many cans of coke and what not. I also wanted to drag home the capacious dishwasher that looks like I would not have to run it three plus times a day like I do with my present high end Euro disappointment!
Sears designs their products for real people, real families. As such they were interested in hearing all the details on our appliance use. I sat in on a focus group where we discussed what sort of stuff we’d love to see in a washer and dryer and what didn’t excite us all that much (Pet clothing cycles? Really?). Sadly Kenmore has yet to crack the code on folding and putting away the clothes automatically once they are clean.
What the new machines can do however, is tell you what’s wrong when they don’t feel so good. Check out this call in diagnostic technology:
After a truly educational and entertaining day at HQ, we headed back to the city to the Kenmore Live Studio for the live taping of a cook off between MommyBloggers and Food Bloggers. The studio is an exciting space where Kenmore products are put to the test in front of live audiences. Shows are broadcast via Kenmore Studio’s Facebook Page if you’d like to watch future live shows or review past shows.
What more can I say? The MommyBloggers seemed to be cooking/beating the pants off the FoodBloggers but I wasn’t keeping strict score… There was a mime and a lot of familiar faces and favorite bloggers were in the crowd. So much fun!
I came home feeling truly privileged to get such a great look behind the scenes and into the future of a brand that is such an American Icon. Great things are happening at Kenmore. And even though it’s not my grandma’s washer and refrigerator, I’m pretty sure my grandma would approve.
Disclosure: Kenmore provided travel and lodging for my trip to Chicago. While there I participated as a (paid) member of a focus panel. This was a fun experience as we all literally aired our dirt about our laundry! Apparently I’m not the only one with wash-nesia (oops I forgot about that load, again).
I currently own a Kenmore Washer/Dryer set that was provided to me for review purposes. The set replaced a beloved Kenmore Washer/Dryer set that I purchased nine years ago. I should also disclose that the old set was still going strong & retired happily to the home of a single man who does not run it 40 times a week like we’d been doing for several years without pause.
I’m a long time, loyal Kenmore fan and customer, particularly when it comes to the washers and dryers that I’ve been using and loving for years.