The High Tech Effect in Vacuum Cleaners

The High Tech Effect in Vacuum Cleaners

Despite encouraging reports from Hoover, Eureka and Panasonic, the rest of the floor caree industry is approaching today’s sophisticated electronic technology in product development cautiously.

Many firms, such as Douglas Products, Regina, Bissell and Metropolitan vacuum cleaner, are admittedly studying chip technology, but are openly skeptical about its feasibility. Others, including Alliance Manufacturing and Shop Vac, flatly state they have no plans for moving in this direction.

Most producers concede that its high cost is the inhibiting factor in the growth of electronic systems in vacs.

The big question the skeptics ask: In this price-sensitive business, will the consumer pay the high tag for such electronic features as variable speed controls and full-bag indicators that in reality do not improve the cleaning power? Electronic models, it is said, usually retail from $300 to $400, while standard vacs that sell in volume are priced at under $150.

Toshiba is probably the firm closet to joining Hoover, Eureka and Panasonic in the ranks of electronic vac producers.

Product manager Michael Murphy said Toshiba definitely is looking into the technology: “We will be traveling to Japan next month and it’s a good bet that this will be explored there. It’s probably a year away for us. We’re new to the (vac) field and want to do it right the first time.”

But it was Jim Flynn, marketing vice president for Regina, who probably best reflected the attitude of vac producers toward the electronic concept: “We are looking at it (chip technology), he said, but, the technology would have to provide a real benefit to the consumer to justify the incremental costs it entails.

“Basically,” he said, “electronic technology now is primarily bells and whistles, and adds considerable cost to the unit. At this point, the cost of technology is too high to give customers a value. It may be a different story when costs come down,” Flynn said.

Jules Stern, executive vice president of Metropolitan vacuum, also questioned whether “the consumer will buy another gimmick. “The circuitry, he pointed out, offers no increase in suction or cleaning power, the two most important features in any vacuum. You can read reviews about the best car vacuum cleaner by visit here. (more…)


Wood Prices Hit Cutting Boards; U.S. Maple, Ash, Oak Tags Rise Forcing Redesigning, Lowering Margins, Or Different Materials


Rising domestic hardwood prices are causing cutting board manufacturers to redesign products, raise prices and use different types of woods for their products. Harsh weather conditions, federal curtailments affecting the logging industry and environmental restrictions have caused a decrease in the availability of hardwoods and have subsequently given rise to increased prices. The price for oak has jumped from $750 to $850 for 1,000 board feet, in Dec 1992, to over $1,000 per 1,000 board feet in Aug 1993.

U.S. maple, ash, oak tags rise forcing redesigning, lowering margins, or different materials

NEW YORK — Twenty to 50 percent increases in the price of domestic hardwoods are having a far-reaching impact on the cutting board industry, forcing manufacturers to redesign products, increase prices, cut profit margins or use different woods. Many predict increases will be long term.

Several reasons have been cited for the increased price of hardwoods such as maple, ash and oak. The Hardwood Market Report, a.k.a. the Lumber News Letter, says adverse weather conditions, environmental restrictions–such as those protecting the spotted owl–and federal curtailments on the logging industry are causing a decrease in availability and increased costs.

Other industry sources point to increased exports of these woods to Europe and Asia– where U.S. mills can get twice the price charged here–as reasons why supply is short, and prices are increasing.

Finally, domestic manufacturers are taking hits from increased imports of less expensive rubberwood cutting boards.

The situation has had a heavy impact on cutting board suppliers–such as Tommer Cutlery & Woodenware, a division of Bemis Mfg. Co., Foley-Martens, Lifetime Hoan and Vermillion–and is already being felt by some retailers and consumers.

“Prices are skyrocketing,” said Vermillion president Paul Driscoll. “Our lumber buyer walks around with his chin to his shoes. We have our own saw mills, so we avoid some of the problems, but oak has gone to over $1,000 for 1,000 board feet [about 4,300 pounds, or over two tons]. In December [1992], it was $750 to $850. (more…)


Royal Appliance Sets TV Ads For Two Dirt Devil Vacuums


Royal Appliance sets TV ads for two Dirt Devil vacuums

At a cost of $3 million, Royal Appliance Mfg. Co. is about to unleash its first-ever national TV ad campaign for its handheld Dirt Devil vac and its new Dirt Devil Broom Vac stick unit.

“We’re going to reach 86 percent of the women between 25 and 54 an average of six times each, so we’re going to sell more than a few Dirt Devils,’ said Coleman Caldwell II, sales and marketing manager.

The humorous spots for the Dirt Devil Broom Vac, introduced last April at a $79 list price, will play up the unit’s compactness by showing a housewife struggling with a hugely oversized regular upright vacuum cleaner. The idea, according to company president John Balch, is to grab people’s attention.

The broom vac ads, which will be dealer tagged, will run from Nov. 15 to Dec. 6 in these regional markets: Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, West Virginia, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But the real TV push will be on Royal’s Dirt Devil, the compact handheld vac with a revolving brush that has been Royal’s star performer since its introduction in 1984. Selling for $39 to $49, the Dirt Devil, with its plastic housing, is closely modeled on Royal Prince, an all-metal handheld machine that dates from 1935.

Unlike such newcomers as Black and Decker’s rechargeable Dust Buster, the Dirt Devil plugs into wall outlets and isn’t limited by the short usage times of rechargeable units. The ads focus on this advantage by saying, “Put the power of an upright in the palm of your hand.’

The Dirt Devil ads are national and will run on the three networks and the top five cable stations. The cable ads will start Oct. 26 and run through Dec. 23. The network ads will kick in Nov. 16 and run through December, and they will be given daytime airings on Good Morning America and the Today Show. (more…)


Challenging The Big Three; A Dozen Companies Reveal Their Strategies For Taking On Hoover, Eureka and Regina

Challenging the big three

A dozen companies reveal their strategies for taking on Hoover, Eureka and Regina.


Products: Uprights from $59 to $89; canisters from $59 to $89.

Strategy: Singer’s niche is under $100, with uprights and canister models starting as low as $59. “That’s been our major strength and major thrust,’ said Mike Orfinik, vice president of marketing for the motor products division.

“Singer has made some tremendous strides in the marketplace in the last two years with merchants, discounters and hardware-type accounts,’ he said. “We are now what I consider to be a viable factor in the market.’

Singer has made vacuum cleaners for more than 50 years, selling them through Sears as well as its own stores, but the company did not take the Singer brand into the mass market until just a few years ago.

In uprights, Singer is planning a “major introduction’ later this year, which will be backed by a substantial television ad campaign, said Orfinik, although he declined to reveal details.

Growth in 1987 “will come from the new product as well as from a strengthening of our basic products through increased distribution,’ he added. “We will continue to target the same type of retail accounts, only more of them.’

Miele Appliances

Products: Canisters from $250 to $600.

Strategy: Independent retailers are the backbone of Miele’s three-year-old U.S. business. Specialists in housewares, vacuum cleaners and appliances have taken on the German-made canisters, positioning them as “top-quality machines,’ according to Charles Seibert, vice president and general manager of Miele’s Somerset, N.J.–based operation.

Miele straight suction canisters start at $250 and go up to $600 for power brush models with cleaning attachments. The attachments and brushes are sold as extras; they’re boxed separately in Miele’s distinctive bright yellow cartons. (more…)


TRE Pushes Trendvac in U.S.; eyes mkt. with 3-SKU Line

TRE pushes Trendvac in U.S.; eyes mkt. with 3-SKU line

WELLAND, ONT. — T.R.E., Inc., a young David in the world of Goliath vacuum cleaner manufacturers, has gone “south of the border” to market its Trendvac line of all-steel canister vacs.

The seven-year-old Canadian firm’s introduction of Trendvac, a three SKU line, “has been designed to compete with the middle-to-high-end Eureka and Hoover canister vacs,” said Bob Sullivan, marketing director.

T.R.E. is a wholly owned company that originally acquired its tooling, equipment and facilities here from the Regina Co, in 1977. At its 65,000 square foot plant, T.R.E. manufactures the Trendvac line under private label or CGE (Canadian General Electric). But the company’s desire for growth led it to explore marketing the line under the Trendvac name in the U.S., as contract restrictions with CGE prohibit T.R.E. from selling the line outside independent dealers. In March 1984 T.R.E. executives decided the U.S. market would get its first glimpse of the all-steel Trendvac line at the April NHMA Show. What buyers and the competition saw was a line that features automatic cord rewinds and full bag indicators. The mid-end and high-end models offer beater/brush bar agitators and four position carpet selectors.

Model V905, the line’s low-end vac, carries suggested retail of $99. It features a dusting brush, crevice tool and upholstery nozzle. (more…)


Uprights Target 52.9% Of Showroom sls

Uprights target 52.9% of showroom sls

BATON ROUGE, LA — All retailers are optimistic about vacuum cleaner sales this year, but none more than catalog showrooms. Ranking second in overall sales, behind Sears, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward’s, catalog showrooms anticipate no less than a second place showing this year in upright unit sales.

Cataloger optimism for uprights is due to consumer enthusiasm for department store merchandise at discount prices. Uprights, HOUSEWARES has learned, will accounts for 52.9% of this yearhs catalog showroom vac sales.

Exceptions to this year’s upright theme have been noted by heavy movers of wet-dry units and hand vacs. But overall, catalogers agreed that the better quality, eavily advertised uprights will be this year’s scene stealers.

“It’s the uprights that always have moved best, and most especially now the units with electric power nozzles like the Concept 2,” noted Kelly Keyes at the 79-unit H.J. Wilson here. She noted, however, that she’s been moving a lot of the wet-dry units, and “they’re gaining on the uprights. I’m not quite sure why.”

Vac pricing, Keyes said, is important to the catalog showroom customer. It is the reason people buy vacs from catlogers. According to Keyes “Customers get a better price from us and the same quality they get from a department store. They also know if they ask for help they can get it like they do at a department store.” (more…)


Hand vac sls. to reach 6M

Hand vac sls. to reach 6M

CLEVELAND–Hand vacs have jumped, in little more than a year, to the forefront of the vacuum cleaner industry. Industry insiders view the 1984 market as highly competitive, with surging sales, which could run as high as 6 million units, and high tech adding to the category’s list of credits.

With the economic recovery well underway, consumer spending is high. More disposable income has been attracted to the category because of state-of-the art developments. Strong support programs, placed in various media, have also strengthened some manufacturers’ positons on the market share scoreboard.

Douglas Products is capitalizing on demand by “beefing up co-op advertising,” noted Jim Griffis, vp/marketing retailers rebates on units sold. But Griffis said that consumers are responsible for the wave of popularity that hand vacs are riding.

“People are looking for more specialized units,” Griffis said. “They’re also looking for versatility and high tech units.”

As many more manufacturers develop innovations that will tantalize consumers, a Norelco spokesperson said, “We definitely see a growing trend toward hand vacs, not only with the development of more attachments, but with the development of stronger, longer life for rechargeables.”

At Royal Appliance here, Marketing Manager Coleman Caldwell outlined plans for the company’s promotion of its second entry in the hand vac market. “We’re going, for the whole nine yards, with tie-in promotions for the Christmas season for ‘Dirt Devil.'” (more…)


Upright, Hand Units Lead Vac Intros; For NHMA Show

Upright, Hand Units Lead Vac Intros; For NHMA Show

CHICAGO–The vac industry will again be exhibiting a wide variety of products at this week’s NHMA Show. Several manufacturers have developed new products specifically for the show, while others are highlighting old favorites.

Eureka is introducing a redesigned 2-SKU upright vac line, and an addition to its Mighty Mite line.

The Ultra upright line, which retails for $169.95 for Model 7620 and $219.95 for Model 7570, features an arm and bag that fold down with the unit’s six-inch hood to allow for easier cleaning under furniture. It also features “brushed edge and corner cleaning” for easy cleaning along edges and in corners. (more…)


Dirt Devil Aims For 6% Market


HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, OH — Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., the nation’s oldest vac manufacturer, has been hidden away in this Cleveland suburb for 79 years, and up until 1-1/2 years ago, its hand vacs were obscured from public view by Black & Decker, Eureka, Hoover and other models. But with the help of a new marketing thrust designed to complement the firm’s manufacturing strength, Royal is emerging from the past with products that are sweeping up market shares.

The basis for the thrust began in December 1981 when Royal was sold to a group of investors who promised to improve the company’s expertise in manufacturing and financial handling. Part of this expertise included the remarketing of the Royal Prince, a metal hand vac that was first introduced in 1940, and the introduction in April of the Dirt Devil, a $59.95 plastic version of the Prince. With just these two SKUs, this 105 employee firm is cashing in on the burgeoning hand vac market.

Royal has placed the Dirt Devil at the forefront of a regional ad rollout, “a campaign with a total cost that is staggering, because it’s all predicated on orders,” noted Marketing Manager Coleman Caldwell. “When a retailer comes on strong, then we start spending money. Our co-op program is the pay as you go type. We set ‘units sold’ levels for each market. When stores reach a certain unit level we run TV ads with that store’s tag. We’re very competitive with the industry in our co-op budget allowances.”

Dirt Devil is currently stocked by retailers “in 45 major markets, from Bangor to San Diego,” Caldwell emphasized. Regional introductions of the Dirt Devil will begin in September and October in Pittsburgh, at Bamberger’s in Newark, NJ, and Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia. (more…)


Eureka Intros Ultra Vac Expands its Mighty Mite

Eureka Intros Ultra Vac Expands its Mighty Mite111

CHICAGO — Eureka will be introducing a completely redesigned 2-SKU upright vacuum cleaner line as well as an addition to its highly successful Mighty Mite line at next month’s Housewares Show here.

Gil Dorsey, Eureka vice president of marketing, told HOUSEWARE in an exclusive interview that the Eureka Ultra upright line will retail for $169.95 for the Model 7520 and $219.95 for the Model 7570. The additional Mighty unit will have a top retail of $159.95.

All of the new lines are available immediately.

The Ultra’s arm and bag (which mounts in front of the arm) fold down flush with the unit’s six-inch hood to allow it to easily slide under most beds. It also features a “brushed edge and corner cleaning” feature which allows easy cleaning along edges and in corners. (more…)