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Haier accelerates its offensive in Europe with ‘Zero Distance’ Strategy
2017-02-13 23:21:00

One year after the arrival of Yannick Fierling as head of European operations, the world’s number one major appliances brand has recorded 25% growth in Europe in the first half of 2016, reaffirming its position as a market-leading firm.

 

 

The company has undergone major developments in the last 15 months with the opening of a new factory in Russia, multiple launches of premium products, the acquisition of General Electric’s appliance division, the reorganisation of its top European management and for the first time in its history and the launching of a pan-European communication campaign summarising its new brand strategy, "Zero Distance". Collectively these robust changes strengthen the weight of the Haier group outside of Asia.

 

 

A business strategy based on proximity

 

 

Since its creation in 1984, Haier has consistently allowed the customer to set the tone. It’s a premise that drives the brand to incorporate the needs and expectations of consumers, from the design to the production of its products, and resulting in the establishment of a local strategy "Zero Distance" that sets out to bring the company even closer to the customer.

“My challenge since assuming the role of head of Haier Europe more than a year ago was primarily to gain market share, strengthen our position among firmly established appliance manufacturers and adapt better to the demands of European consumers," said Yannick Fierling, CEO of Haier Europe.

These objectives were achieved through measures undertaken across the company in areas such as HR, industrial development, sales and marketing.

 

Reorganisation of top management for improved productivity

 

To improve responsiveness, productivity and accelerate decision-making, Haier has reorganised the top management of its major European markets. To achieve this, the group appointed three new regional directors (France and Switzerland, Southern Europe, Northern and Eastern Europe). "I strongly believe in the importance of human capital in a company. The overall objective of these appointments is to make Haier Europe operate as a micro business within a multinational setting," added Fierling.

 

Creation of a manufacturing plant and new R&D centre in Europe

 

In April 2016, Haier opened a new factory of 24,500 sqm in Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia, dedicated to the production of refrigerators. Employing 500 workers and generating an additional 1200 jobs in outsourcing activities, this plant is expected to produce 250 000 units initially (with an ultimate goal of 500,000). "This new plant will enable us to increase our productivity, and be more proactive with regard to the European market while meeting shorter and shorter distribution deadlines. Although our Chinese production facility is able to cover almost all of the European demands, we would be more competitive in terms of logistics flexibility," said Yannick Fierling.

The brand also plans to open a new R&D centre in Russia, in addition to the one based in Nuremberg, Germany.

 

Products with tangible benefits that simplify daily life

 

Since 2015, Haier has multiplied the launch of new products designed to simplify the daily lives of its users. The brand offers its customers a series of products to meet a wide variety of uses, needs and expectations. Today, Haier offers the widest range of refrigerators with freezer drawers in the market and a double drum washing machine which allows users to wash two separate loads simultaneously.

Moreover, the group continues its diversification into other product categories by proposing innovative home heating systems (both with and without Wi-Fi).

 

A dynamic, ambitious pan-European communication campaign

 

 

To reinforce its market position, a focus on brand awareness is essential for Haier to enhance its reputation. “Without a solid brand image, a business is not sustainable, and without a brand, it is impossible to develop reputation”, remarked Fierling.

Last May, for the first time in its history, the brand launched a sponsorship campaign and TV advertisement around the “Zero Distance” concept. The group chose the largest European channels to showcase its know-how within the white goods market, and strengthen its reputation (TF1 in France, RTL Group in Germany and Antena 3 in Spain). Its “Zero Distance” spot has had more than 8 million views on YouTube. Another performance indicator in terms of audience was site traffic, and the communication campaign generated a 25% increase in the brand’s site visits during the first semester

 

 

 

Thanks to its proven “Zero Distance” strategy, Haier is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with across Europe. Its rapid expansion shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, proven by the group’s recent activity in acquiring General Electric’s appliance division. Thanks to this acquisition, today, Haier boasts 72,000 employees and 9 R&D centres across the world (contrary to 60,000 and 5 before).

“With this acquisition, I am convinced that the brand’s growth in Europe can only continue to accelerate, along with the implementation of our mission, that of Zero Distance with the customer,” concluded Yannick Fierling.

 

*with a market share of 9.8% retail volume sales in units. Source: Euromonitor International Limited, 2015

 

 

 
 

 

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