(Yicai Global) Sept. 13 -- US home appliance maker Whirlpool is preparing for the first China International Import Expo to be held in about two months with a focus on the latest trends in in-laid kitchens. Yicai Global interviewed Ai Xiaoming, the president of Whirlpool China, regarding the Hefei-based firm's expectations for the trade show. Ai gave special attention to international management styles and talent acquisition.
Q: What is Whirlpool's goal for the CIIE and what will it show to visitors?
Ai Xiaoming: "We will present the high-end kitchen appliances designed by our team from Europe. The emphasis is in the in-laid kitchen appliances including fridges, ovens, food steamers, microwave ovens and washing machines. All of the kitchen appliances in display will be the latest ones coming to the Chinese market and sold simultaneously globally."
"The ongoing consumption upgrade offers us many opportunities. We believe that the introduction of high-end kitchen appliances will help enlarge Whirlpool's market share and brand influence."
"We will make full use of the platform offered by the CIIE to find potential cooperation opportunities. We also hope that more consumers can appreciate the charm of in-laid kitchen appliances in the European style, as well as other products from Whirlpool. CIIE is an excellent platform for presenting new products and communicating with various clients."
Q: The market share of imported household appliances in China is not that large. How will Whirlpool adjust its localization strategy and raise brand awareness of imported household appliances in China?
Ai Xiaoming: "Many people hold the opinion that Whirlpool is a company from the US so localization practices are quite necessary. However, what I believe is that we need to become more international."
"Many of our technicians and salesmen are local residents that were born and raised in China. These local workers and technicians are qualified in skills but they lack international concepts and that way of thinking. My wish is to introduce more talents who have held important positions in other large international companies to bring new ideas to Whirlpool China."
"We hope that more talented people with international management ideas and visions will join us to introduce European branding concepts and visual design in kitchen appliances to China. Combining our experiences in terms of the US product portfolio, deep distribution channels, and our understanding of China will make a great match with the international management thinking."
Q: Fridges have always been an important section in Whirlpool's business. What strategies will Whirlpool take to obtain a satisfactory market share in the fridge market of China?
Ai Xiaoming: "The fridge market in China has now grown to the largest one in the world and is gradually taking its role as a standard-setter for the whole industry, with the foundations and the innovation ability to lead the development of the global refrigerator industry. Consumers will have a preference for branded fridges as tech develops and consumer environment matures. Whirlpool has reached a crucial stage with strengths and challenges that come along with this industry which keeps on concentrating."
"Whirlpool will gradually give up low-end products and focus on the high-end. We plan to make our "aging-freezing" series of products global. The aging-freezing series 2.0 products will be launched next year, with upgrades made in decoration, available storage space and ability to retain freshness."
The CIIE will be held from Nov. 5 to 10 in the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai.
Editor: Emmi Laine