Whirlpool chose the recent Architectural Digest Design Show to introduce its new JennAir branding along with a full line of 70 appliances that express the new image. JennAir is at the “pinnacle of Whirlpool’s family of appliance brands,” says Jon Hall, JennAir marketing director, “where we have a responsibility to drive progress in appliances for the modern luxury customers.” Whirlpool’s brand family also includes Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Amana and Maytag.
Along with a new look for its appliances, JennAir, the brand, is introducing a new logo and watermark which removes the “-” from its old name, Jenn-Air, and a new tagline, “Bound by Nothing,” which expresses the idea that “JennAir brand is limitless, pacing a path of progress in the luxury category,” the company states.
Looking to the past to lead to JennAir’s future
I sat down with Hall to learn more about how JennAir has reimagined the brand for the needs, wants and expectations of the next generation of luxury home owners. These are people who demand new interpretations and expressions of their dream kitchen now that their spending power has reached a level where their aspirations can finally be realized.
In reimagining the JennAir brand, the company was inspired by the origin story of the brand and its founder Lou Jenn. Working as an air flow engineer, Jenn wanted to bring the outdoor cooking experience into the home and designed a cook system than defied convention by channeling the smoke, fumes and grease produced in cooking down, rather than up.
“When he downdrafted those cooking fumes, you no longer needed a ventilation system at eye level. People loved that they had sightlines into other rooms. Designers credit Lou Jenn with creating the open floor plan concept, which everyone wants these days,” Hall explains.
Jenn’s innovative approach to appliance design was to fit the appliance functions to the needs of consumers. That is the soul of the JennAir brand. “Lou was a rebel back then that challenged conventions to drive progress. We are bringing that forward and doubling down on that spirit with the launch of our new revolutionary products,” Hall says.
Appliances for the Discerning Indulger
The launch of the new JennAir line is based upon deep qualitative and quantitative research into the mindset of the modern luxury consumer, which the company describes as the “Discerning indulger.” They are the next generation of luxury consumers, primarily GenXers and leading-edge millennials, who are reaching the height of their earning power. They are in the sweet spot for the high-end appliance market as they trade up to their larger forever homes.
Hall characterizes the Discerning Indulgers as people who worked hard to acquire wealth and status, but are also risk takers who seek distinctive products in their home that express their unique personality. “They don’t want stuff that is in the mushy-middle or are stale and conventional. The idea of progress, freedom and rebellion in our brand matches their aura,” he says.
The design of the new product line is intended to capture that spirit through more modern, contemporary styling and with technology fully integrated into each appliance. “Looking across the luxury market, we found luxury brands resting on their laurels,” Hall expresses. “Conventional luxury has become complacent. Old luxury does not align with these new expectations for digital connectivity.”
Technology as the new butler in the home
For the Discerning Indulgers technology is fully integrated in their lives, which they also expect in their kitchens. Hall describes the digital enhancements in its new line as, “The butler in the home, that helps coordinate the functions and removes friction.”
JennAir’s technology enables consumers to manage food inventory in the refrigerator, control functions and settings through the JennAir app, get recipes and cooking directions, and have push-button access to the call center if problems arise.
The appliances are also capable of communicating with other smart home technology. For example, JennAir is fully integrated with Google’s Nest thermostat system so that if the oven hits a certain temperature and the kitchen starts to heat up, it will automatically adjust the thermostat.
And while the new appliances come fully tricked out with the latest technology, they still operate in hands-on mode as well, to serve the needs of the more mature technology-challenged Baby Boomer customer (yours truly).
Custom configurations for customized kitchens
Another innovative feature of the JennAir line is the ability it offers customers and designers to configure the appliance combinations to their exact needs and specifications. With this Lego-inspired approach, individual components can be pieced together to customize an appliance for each home owner’s special uses.
For example, 15” sectional cooktops can be combined, each with special cooking functions, to create the ideal configuration and dimension. JennAir is also introducing column refrigerators where the individual freezer and refrigerator columns can be configured together in what ever sizes and combinations are needed.
“Our new designs are very energetic and distinctive,” Hall adds. “We are providing bespoke elements that allow people to curate the kitchen to create a unique and fully personalized experience just for them. Nobody has anything like this.”
JennAir was excited to draw back the curtain at the Architectural Digest Design Show to reveal the hard work that has gone into its new designs and its new brand imagery. For Hall, he sees not just an opportunity for the brand to get on the pick list of luxury home buyers and remodelers, but that JennAir has a responsibility to continue leading the luxury appliance industry into the future. “Our brand is rooted in an act of defiance from the very beginning,” he concludes. “We are doing that under our new creative platform ‘Bound by Nothing’ that is driving progress by challenging conventions.”