Lindsay Willott, marketing manager for new home water cooler product Bibo, talks to Hannah Oakman about the route to market and rationale behind the new brand.
Does working as a water cooler manufacturer in the residential sector require a specific approach?
Lindsay Willott: Yes, absolutely. We don’t have shops or a physical retail presence, so our sales and marketing approach has been entirely direct, in the model of Bose or Dyson in their early days. Our customer service has to be exemplary.
In addition, turnaround times for delivering and installing our units, and attending to any queries or issues, are often a matter of minutes or hours rather than days. We're dealing with people’s homes rather than their offices – a very important distinction.
What are customers in the residential sector really looking for in terms of products?
Willott: A domestic appliance which is impressive to look at and use. Bibo’s touchscreen interface and sleek design is a real hit with our customers. In addition, our customers want convenience, excellent water quality and a supplier they can trust. Again, our commitment to customer service is very important here and we do already have a very loyal customer base.
How do you see the Bibo machine filling a gap in the market?
Willott: At one end are the boiling and chilled taps, often costing thousands of pounds and largely sold as an integrated appliance into a new, top-end kitchen. At the other end are the combination of water filter jugs and kettles, which need to be refilled and boiled each time. There's a clear gap for Bibo in between: it provides all the benefits of the taps but is a fraction of the price, comes in many colours and, critically, can be moved around the kitchen or taken with you when you move.
Is customer service even more important in this area?
Willott: Yes, enormously so. B2B timescales and processes do not cut the mustard with a domestic consumer. The levels of service we have to provide, and strive to exceed, are much more akin to a brand like John Lewis. From initial contact through to post-sale care, customer service is literally more important than anything else we do.
Who are your typical customers?
Willott: There isn’t a group I would single out. We have Bibos operating across the UK from Inverness to Cornwall, Essex to Pembrokeshire and everywhere in between. We have Bibos in student flats, mansions, cottages, second homes and even on three boats! The reason people buy is a combination of wanting to get rid of the filter jug they have clogging up their fridge, and a desire to have boiling and chilled water on demand. I believe the convenience and luxury of instant boiling and chilled water in the home is hard to overemphasise.
Hannah Oakman is editor of Cooler Innovation magazine. Subscribe here.
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