"There are loads and loads of conversations about transferring
brand experience to mobile, web, tablet," said Sophie Kelly, CEO of
the Barbarian Group. "But there's very little discussion about
retail interactive experiences."
When it comes to appliances such as stove and refrigerators,
most experiences, the agency said, are dull and lifeless. "It's
rows and rows of stainless steel, and nothing is plugged in," said
Keith Butters, the CXO.
Barbarian's task was to build an immersive shopping experience
that would win over consumers making the expensive decision. The
display is expected to expand to global retailers over the coming
year, although the companies would not offer further details.
CenterStage, a hulking six-by-eleven foot wall with nine
screens, displays 27 of Samsung's products in their actual size.
Shoppers can experiment with the appliances using the touch screen
technology; they can zoom in on features, open up a refrigerators
and microwaves, tweak their colors, and even plop them down in a
Twenty-five Barbarian staffers were devoted to the project,
which took eight months to complete. Method, a New York-based
design firm, also worked on the installation. "It's got to be
ATM-level usable," Mr. Butters said, describing the installation.
"But also cool enough that a 17-year old kid would run over to
Having an electronics giant as a client helped.
Not only did Samsung provide the products for the flashy
graphics to display, but it built the video screen technology. When
a hardware glitch appeared as Barbarian was building the
installation, Samsung swiftly dispatched a technician from its
video department to fix it.
"It's a one-stop-shop for all appliance needs, and we believe it
will appeal to consumers by enhancing and making their home
appliance shopping experience easier than ever," Yoon Lee, VP of
Electronics, said in a statement.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Samsung declared
its intention to become the dominant home-appliance producer in the
U.S. Within the past year, Samsung has increased its retail
presence with Best Buy, showcasing its equipment for sale in around
half of the retailer's outlets. Last month, Samsung
threw a splashy Manhattan event to kick off its new
"Chef Collection" line -- the division's "biggest launch ever,"
Peggy Ang, VP-Marketing Communications, claimed at the time.
Ms. Ang has also spearheaded a major marketing splash for the
company's line of cameras, orchestrating a big giveaway publicity
event in Times Square in June.
These moves could be a reaction to a slowdown in Samsung's
flagship mobile line. Starting last month, analysts cautioned that
the company was "overly
dependent" on smartphone and tablet sales. In its
preliminary earnings statement
released this week, Samsung said a slump in mobile will
lead to a 24% plunge in operating income.
Samsung's share of the major appliance market in the U.S. has
climbed steadily, rising from 6.7% in 2010 to 10.7% in the four
quarters ending in March 2014, according to the Stevenson Company,
a research firm. Among the products Samsung sells -- refrigerators,
washers, dryers and free-standing range ovens -- its market share
escalated from 7.3% to 12% during the same period, moving it to
fourth-place behind GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore and LG.
Figures from Kantar Media show that Samsung spent $29.78 million
in media advertising on home appliances in 2013, more than double
its 2012 totals. (Whirlpool, which produces several more appliance
products, spent $113.12 million in 2013.)
Yet despite Samsung's push in the category and the strength of
its brand-name, the Korean manufacturing giant also trails
Whirlpool, GE, Kenmore, LG and Maytag in brand consideration in the
category, according to Stevenson Company estimates.
The CenterStage initiative comes out of Samsung's marketing
division in South Korea. It will not be accompanied with a
marketing campaign immediately, but a company spokeswoman said that
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previous version of this article said the San Francisco-based
design firm that worked on the installation was Matter. It was New
York-based Method Studios.