Breville Aspires to be Next Dyson

Aussie Appliance Maker Aims to Storm U.S with High-End Form, Function

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From new zealand to England, appliance marketer Breville is so synonymous with toasted sandwiches that natives use its name as a verb, as in "I'm going to Breville that."

But despite being in this country for five years, it's virtually unheard of in the $3.5 billion U.S. countertop-appliance market, a reality it intends to change by borrowing a page from Britain's Dyson, which swept the vacuum market with high-performance, high-design machines. "That's what we're going for," said Rob Sheard, brand manager, Breville.

Like Dyson, Breville is finding the U.S. a sleepy market with discount-priced products and a number of inexpensive private-label bands. And also like Dyson, it boasts museum-quality design and better-mousetrap claims. For Dyson, it was "doesn't lose suction." For Breville, it's a thicker head of "crema," the tan foam which forms at the top of the drinks yielded by its $399 espresso machine, and smoother smoothies from its blenders.

"Dyson is focused on innovation, the same as we are," said Mr. Sheard. "Our marketing philosophy is to make the kitchen experience fun and creative through simplicity and design."

Other products now in the Breville lineup of 26 products available in the U.S. include juicemakers and toasters. Hamilton Beach, the nation's No. 1 small-appliance seller, last year sold some 35 million units. Breville currently accounts for less than half a million units.

Breville initially entered the U.S. with trade-focused ads and later repurposed its Australian creative for some food-related cable buys. But its new ad campaign, tagged "counter thinking," is intended to take the brand mainstream. Print is running in November issues of nine epicurean publications, including Food & Wine, Dwell, and Martha Stewart Living. TV is planned for spring.

Overall spending is estimated at about $5 million, but its agency, Kastner & Partners, which used innovative marketing tactics to launch Red Bull (Red Bull purchased a soccer team and renamed it the New York Red Bulls), has plans for some innovative ways to stretch Breville's marketing dollars. One project in the works involves outfitting a classic Airstream trailer to sample espresso drinks.

Analysts, however, aren't so sure Breville can perform the same marketing magic as Dyson. Ken Wasik, managing director of the consumer-product group at Houlihan Lokey, cautioned that innovation has to be significant to resonate. "You're not getting a big bang for innovations these days," he said. "A little innovation can get you so far."
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