by Teresa Chow on Apr 30, 2012 in Products
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Gaggenau’s been around for more than 300 years – and is determined that this is just the beginning

Head of Gaggenau International Sven Schnee tells PerspectiveGlobal what today’s virtual world means to the development of a kitchen appliances company that’s more than three centuries old – and why a European recession hasn’t had much of an impact on them

It’s interesting that Gaggenau isn’t actively engaged with social media; why is that?
I think it’s a more modest and decent approach that we prefer not to be actively on Facebook or YouTube ‑ we do talk about ourselves, but we provide content that is interesting enough that others might talk about us via these channels.
We are launching a new website by end of September. The major aspect of this is to provide the same look and feel of products. The entire page can be considered as a stage, then viewers can have a full screen of photography or film. For us, it is important to have a mix of educational and emotional topics to tell stories of the brand.

As a brand with a history that spans across the centuries, how does Gaggenau ensure its name is still top-of-mind in the face of many newcomers entering the market?
Next year, we will be celebrating our 330th birthday. We are now about high technology, still committed to craftsmanship. This is a guiding aspect for the brand; even though there is industrial production, there’s always the individual touch.

In terms of developing a brand over the decades, today’s designs need to be in line with the ovens we have been carrying over the years. Some of our customers have been using our appliance for many years ‑ if we change in a revolutionary way, they might be lost.

We are avant-garde, but we are traditionally avant-garde. We take a look at our future, but we would not neglect what made us strong. There are other brands which produce nice products, but they might not have the traditions that we do. Our brand is not just about the product, but a cultivated lifestyle – a cooking culture.

Different cultures define luxury differently. How does Gaggenau balance different market needs in this sense?
It’s not just about different culture, but it’s about individualism, because luxury is an individual projection of things. Luxury is an added value to a product, and it can be emotional or educational. These two are elements that are directives in anything we do.
When we do a product, we have to first understand that the materials we use are precious. We have to use them in a sustainable way and to ensure long durability. They are always up-to-date. They are avant-garde, but if they are used over a decade, then we call it traditional avant-garde.
Our showroom is always about lifestyle rather than a product exhibition. We don’t want to just sell, but to explain in order to get educational and emotional elements across.

How does this strategy work in different markets?
This works even better in Asia because people there are much concerned about understanding why something is special. They are critical and keep asking in order to understand the essence of a product. This is why we have such a strong impact in Asia.

Is Gaggenau affected in this time of a recession in Europe?
We have not felt the European recession yet as we are still on the rise. We are not so much affected by any recession, because in a recession, people try to find ways to invest their money. We do not want to have a presence everywhere. So if you are not everywhere, it means you suffer less when recession comes. Plus, we have a worldwide product range ‑ we sell the same product everywhere on the planet. This also makes us stronger as we don’t have a distinctive product just for Europe.

How does Gaggenau invest in its design team?
Design for me is not just product design. We should talk more about brand design. Brand design is about human relationships. It is an experience via our showroom, catalogues, or our website. Brand design is also product design, or even how I talk to you and how we offer customer service.
We have a team of six designers and they only work for Gaggenau. We do not buy famous designers or testimonial designs. When we launch a new product, it’s always a team of designers – product management, product marketing and brand communications.

How does Gaggenau know when it’s the right time to launch or upgrade a product?
We take a close look at the market and we have our portfolio of ideas, but as some of our ranges have been out in the market for seven to 15 years, it always depends on the product and the market evolution. We do not need necessarily to always be the first. What we do we do it in a substantial and individual way. When we come out with a new product, it needs to be perfect in all regards.

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