Samsung bets on bespoke fridges to lure millennials

Written By: BBC

PHOTO | BBC

Samsung says it plans to offer more bespoke electronics to appeal to younger customers.

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The South Korean giant saw a big spike in sales of fridges and cleaners during the pandemic while online sales grew 50% globally during the third quarter.

One area of growth in South Korea were fridges that can be customized according to size, material, and colour.

Samsung plans to start selling personalised fridges in the US, Middle East and Europe later this year.

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Specialty fridges for kimchi (fermented cabbage) are a popular option and accounted for more than 67% of the South Korean market last year.

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“Customers had few options among products made by a traditional manufacturing system,” said Jaeseung Lee, Samsung’s president and head of digital appliances business.

“Our way of manufacturing has to be changed for the personalisation of appliances. And that’s a big transition.”

Samsung, which also offers bespoke wine coolers and dishwashers, wants to include suppliers and furniture studios in its manufacturing process to come up with more design options.

PHOTO | BBC

Samsung is one of a few companies offering bespoke electronics, having started with its “The Frame” television which allows consumers to choose their own bezel frame.

Kenneth Liew, a devices expert at market intelligence firm IDC Asia Pacific, said advancements in production line techniques have allowed companies to offer more personalised products.

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“Most people including millennials usually like personalised products. From small items like wallets, to high-end bicycles to cars, companies have tried to monetised this, by providing some customisation to generate a bigger margin,” he told the BBC.

“By customising an item, it allows the consumer to feel that their item is more unique and closer to their hearts.”

Smart devices

The electronics firm is also putting more software in its appliances such as artificial intelligence (AI). While Samsung has its own Bixby voice assistant, Mr Lee said it is open to working with rivals Amazon and Google to connect their systems to its gadgets.

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Big electronic companies have benefitted during the pandemic as more people worked from home and relied on gadgets and the internet in their daily lives.

Many of these brands will be showcasing their new technology at a digital version of the Consumer Electronics Show this week.

The tech event, which is normally staged in the US gaming resort of Las Vegas, kicked off on Monday.

Samsung showed off its Bot Handy, a robotic waiter and butler that can pour you wine and do the washing up.

Other new gadgets from rivals included a $3,000 (£2,220) pet flap that connects to your smartphone.

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