Thermomix – An Effective Social Marketing Model
Thermomix lays claim to being the most advanced kitchen appliance on the global market.
Built with German precision it mills, chops, mixes, emulsifies, kneads, stirs, steams, weighs, melts, blends and cooks. It has only been in Australia for 15 years, but has already racked up approx 200k customers and reportedly generates an average revenue of $25.6 million p.a.
But don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it. The company uses a grass-roots selling approach that combines the age-old Tupperware party model with tried and proven direct marketing techniques and the latest social media tools. As a customer-marketing-specialist-slash-new-Thermomix-customer, I’ve been privy to the unique customer experience that is likely to have been instrumental to the success of the company to date, not just in Australia but around the world. It’s an interesting business model that might provide some food-for-thought for your own marketing activities. Here are my observations to date…
1. The Party Plan
Thermomix uses a face-to-face selling approach where prospects and customers hold sizable dinner parties at their homes and a Thermomix Rep prepares a six course meal over the space of a couple of hours.
This is not dissimilar to the Tupperware direct selling method which became famous in the 1950s. Women hosted parties in their homes where they shared the marvel of Tupperware with family and friends and were rewarded for their time and effort. Guests then went on to host their own parties and spread the word amongst their own networks.
2. Direct Selling Techniques
Thermomix effectively uses tried and proven direct marketing techniques to engage and build relationships with customers from consideration to purchase and beyond. Examples include:
- Exclusive product: The Thermomix is sold exclusively through its network of reps; so unless people are ready to have a personal relationship with the company, it’s unobtainable.
- Benefits: The focus is on the benefits of the product which helps to overshadow the price-tag of nearly $2000.
- Soft-sell approach: Their focus is to get as many people as possible seeing the product in action within a comfortable social setting, rather than getting the sale on the day.
- Capturing data: All attendees are asked to share their contact details and thoughts regarding the demo along with their level of interest. All prospects are followed-up at relevant intervals by the Thermomix rep.
- Strong offers: There’s always an incentive to buy now even though it’s done softly-softly.
- Payment plan: They offer limited time , no or low interest payment plans to help minimise the budget obstacle.
- Customer-get-customer: They motivate new customers to host a home-demo within three months of purchase with money-can’t-buy incentives so that they can unleash all the excitement that new customers have for their product, on their peers.
- A personal customer experience: Starting with the purchase, the rep hand-delivers the product, spends a couple of hours teaching the new customer how to use it (we made pizza dough and vege stock) and makes a few basic meals. The rep also encourages their customers to call them directly whenever they have a question regarding the Thermomix or a recipe. And importantly when you do call, they’re quick to respond or help out as needed.
- Ongoing exclusive offers: Customers are continually invited to host more parties with exclusive incentives such as top quality, highly aspirational complementary products at affordable prices, which are only available for a limited time.
3. Social Channels
The Thermomix business model has a strong focus on community-building, both on and offline.
- Online: There are many different channels being used where customers are actively engaging with the community by sharing recipes and posting pictures of their creations, providing feedback and assisting each other to solve the foodie challenges they face. This customer engagement is visible on Facebook (As at May 2016, they have 221k friends in Australia), Twitter (6795 followers), Instagram (36.6k followers) and Pinterest (20.6k followers) as well as via the Thermomix recipe community and forum. They also have a whole host of engaged cooks and chefs who have fallen in love with the product and blog their original Thermomix recipes out to their own networks.
- Offline: Thermomix run very affordable cooking classes to further nurture that community feeling amongst Thermomix customers and to help them to get the most out of their product.
I’m sure I’ll make many more observations along my own personal journey with Thermomix but it seems to me that this is a company that backs-up a high quality product with a customer-is-king attitude using the best of traditional and modern selling and relationship-building techniques at all stages of the customer lifecycle – all translating into a very healthy business model.