The BluRox technology, with its fanciful name of the English word for blue rocks, promises to be one of the most significant innovations in refrigeration, with the potential to transform the entire segment. The development is being underwritten by Liebherr, the refrigeration specialist. In addition to the new solution, the brand is also at the forefront of developing highly energy-efficient appliances. We spoke to Thomas Ausserdorfer, Liebherr Sales Director for Austria and Eastern Europe, and Krisztián Puskás, Liebherr Sales Manager for Hungary, not only about the innovations and products, but also about the market trends.
Thomas Ausserdorfer, Liebherr Sales Director for Austria and Eastern Europe
So far this year has not been the most positive for the technical trade, although it is true that the Hungarian market’s performance in the previous year was quite good in this period. How do you see the market?
A. T.: The European market for refrigerators and freezers is slightly declining, and the economic effects and high inflation rates are being felt. Nevertheless, Liebherr is quite optimistic about the recent market developments, as the company’s position as a specialist in refrigeration and freezing is getting stronger with its high quality and sustainable products. For Liebherr, the main European markets are stable, and there is still a lot of potential in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe. The core values of the sales strategy will be defined, and the European Selective Distribution Scheme is a strong statement to our retail partners that Liebherr will ensure quality in distribution based on selection and quality criteria. Positioned as a strong and reliable partner for the retail trade, the story must continue.
K.P.: People typically buy a household refrigerator for two reasons. One is that they want to replace their old appliance because it’s broken, or they want a more modern and energy efficient one. The other is that they need a new fridge because they are investing in their home, buying a property or thinking of buying a new appliance as part of a kitchen renovation. With the end of state subsidies and rising costs, the propensity to invest has fallen sharply, leaving a group of people who are replacing their old appliances. Those who have a broken fridge are having to replace it – but those who want to buy a more modern one are actually putting off their purchase at a higher rate. A targeted public subsidy for energy-efficient appliances, such as the one currently running successfully in Greece and Poland, would be very helpful.
How can consumers be addressed at this time?
K. P.: Of course, we are aware that the market demand is much lower than usual, but Liebherr has been able to increase its sales in Hungary this year. The brand’s message is clear: we offer high-quality appliances at affordable prices that are reliable in the long term.
Krisztián Puskás, Liebherr Sales Manager for Hungary
This year, Liebherr launched a money-back campaign for their energy class A appliances. The cooling season is still behind us and the promotion will run until the end of August, but have you had any experiences? How have customers and partners received the initiative?
K.P.: According to the promotion, we will give our customers HUF 60 000 for energy class “A” appliances, HUF 40 000 for class “B” and “C” appliances and HUF 20 000 for class “D”. The benefit for our partners is clear. Liebherr gives its customers a price advantage without any risk for the reseller, without any administration and without the promotion affecting the dealer’s margin. Feedback shows that the cashback makes it easier for customers to buy higher-end appliances or to choose a Liebherr model instead of a product from another manufacturer, but these are not additional sales, but a bigger slice of the existing pie.
“Liebherr gives its customers a price advantage without any risk for the reseller, without any administration and without the promotion affecting the dealer’s margin.”
Sustainability is also linked to durability. Perhaps the most important indicator of this aspect from a consumer’s perspective is the guarantee. As a premium brand with quality as one of its key advantages, what guarantee conditions does Liebherr offer?
K.P.: Uniquely in Hungary, all our models come with a free 5-year full and 10-year compressor warranty, and our “A” energy class combined coolers come with a 10-year full warranty. This effectively means that new customers can feel completely safe for as long as they want.
This year Liebherr introduced their new wine cooler range. What models are available and what are the main advantages of the appliances?
K.P.: Specifically, our wine cellars have been renovated. Our new range is not only different in appearance from the older range, but the new models are now networkable as smart coolers, meaning they can be controlled remotely using a smartphone and can also send alarm notifications. We have also introduced equipment levels for the new wine coolers: the GrandCru range provides everything you need for reliable wine storage. The GrandCru Selection also offers individually controllable humidity levels, and the Perfection series is designed for more intensive use, making it particularly suitable for use in busy restaurants. All our appliances are lockable – some models with a key, others with a PIN code that can be set individually. Our full range can be viewed on our website or in our printed catalogues.
Last year were presented your unique BluRox technology at the IFA in Berlin. What makes this development so special?
A.T.: Improving the energy efficiency of an appliance can be achieved by changing the insulation in addition to the technology. Traditionally, this has meant increasing the thickness of the insulation, which, by definition, has reduced the useful volume of the cooler. The completely new and proprietary BluRox technology uses vacuum panels instead of traditional insulation materials, and as we know, there is no better insulation material than the absence of air. And what does this mean in reality? Achieving around 25 percent more usable volume and better insulated appliances than ever before.
How significant do you think the impact on the refrigerator market could be?
A.T.: The advantages of the new technology over conventional insulation are obvious: it insulates better, takes up less of the useful space, the fridge is lighter and there is significantly less waste at the end of the appliance’s life. BluRox is clearly a forward-looking development.
“BluRox is clearly a forward-looking development.”
When will this solution become tangible in the market?
A.T.: Production requires complex technology, which does not yet allow for mass production. Liebherr already has appliances with BluRox panels available, but their widespread use is expected in the near future as production capacity is ramped up and the associated lower prices become available.