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WEEKEND Edition - IFA International 2017

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW More

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW More Than 100 Products at IFA Wear “iF” Label Famed design awards highlight excellence since 1953 While the iF Design Awards were attributed several months ago, project managers from iF International Forum Design GmbH are visiting IFA where a veritable concentration of award recipients are to be found. Heike Meier and Anja-Martina Kirschning spoke to IFA International about the growing importance of design as a differentiating factor for manufacturers. AMK: We are visiting the 2017 award winners in the categories of home appliances, TV and video, photo, home entertainment and so on. It has been important for us to come, as so many of our prize winners are here this year. Over a hundred winners are here, of which there are more than ten gold award winners, including the LG CordZero A7 cordless vacuum cleaner, the Nespresso Expert coffee machine, Leowe klang 5 active speaker, and the very striking YEV electric violin from Yamaha. We are meeting here at IFA with the head of design for Yamaha, and they are very eager to show the iF label, as for them it’s a marketing tool. Heike Meier & Anja-Martina Kirschning iF International Forum Design GmbH Yamaha YEV Electric Violin Gold iF Award Winner on show at IFA How are the awards decided? HM: Each year, we assess around 5,500 products that are judged by 60 jurors – international designers from around the world, and around 2,000 design awards are decided. The awards have been in existence since 1953. The iF design award is given in seven disciplines – product design, communication design, packaging design, service design, architecture, interior architecture and professional concepts. Of course, here we are talking about product design. The design and production quality of the entries is getting better from year to year. In formal aesthetic terms, the majority of entries in some categories are very similar. These include computers, printers and smartphones. This makes it extremely important to distinguish, identify and evaluate relevant details. This can only be done by experts who aspire to be objective, and to thus judge the world's most important design award. We are seeing more and more Chinese brands winning awards. Is this a key trend? HM: All of Asia, in particular South Korea, Taiwan, China and Japan are very prominent. Our top participants came from Taiwan and China this year, and Germany is in third or fourth place. We have branch offices in Taipei, Seoul and Hong Kong, as this facilitates the contacts where there are big language differences. WE ARE UNDERLINING THE FACT THAT A PARTICULAR DEVICE IS INNOVATIVE AND WELL ADAPTED TO A SPECIFIC MARKET What are the key points of evolution in design? AMK: If you look at smartphones, they all tend to look the same, so we are looking at the interface and usability. It is also important to look at the cultural differences. In Asia, for example, women like huge smartphones, as they make their faces look smaller. For us it sounds strange, but this is part of the decisionmaking process for the awards… taking account of these cultural differences. They look for developments for specific areas. For example, if a smartphone is made for the Chinese market, they will look at what the companies did in the past, how they have evolved, and how the smartphone looks today. Is it really innovative for the market? Is it good for this market? You get a lot of poor design, with little cultural background, from brands that are not really developed. But we are underlining the fact that a particular device is innovative and well adapted to a specific market. When they apply, the manufacturers have to explain which market and demographic they are targeting with each product 26

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Franjo Bobinac President and CEO, Gorenje Gorenje Focuses on Smart Appliances and Global Growth After successfully completing the first year of its strategic plan, Franjo Bobinac, Gorenje’s President and CEO, said that the company finished the first half of 2017 with revenue growth and much stronger profitability. We asked Mr Bobinac, who recently accepted a new five-year term in his current role, to tell us more about the company’s plans. The second half of the year is usually even stronger in terms of sales, and we are quite happy with the development of business and orders for Gorenje. The battle for the markets and market shares of course continues and nothing can be taken for granted. There are a few tasks that remain to be done, but we are on the right path to achieve our strategic goals. Everyone talks about digitalisation… How important is this theme for you in both your products and your company itself? Extremely important. Digitalisation is in progress at Gorenje Group at all levels, from manufacturing to R&D, and of course sales and marketing where we have taken many steps forward in recent years. In addition to a range of digital services we are developing, our digital strategy places particular stress on the development of smart or connectible domestic appliances as a part of a smart home; moreover, a digital environment has been customary for many of our business processes for some time. We are reinventing the traditional home appliances by optimising the user experience. In terms of product development, connected appliances are increasingly important. What is your “state of evolution” in this respect? At IFA, we are presenting many new developments from the field of smart appliances. We will show our product highlights and use many cutting edge technologies to interact with the visitors and to engage them. The focus will also be on artificial intelligence as we première Gorenje's personal shopping bot Anna, which IFA visitors will have the opportunity to meet and greet for the first time. In autumn, we are launching a line of smart connectable appliances under the Atag brand, later to be followed by the Asko and Gorenje brand appliances. Your focus seems to be more and more on premium product lines. Is this so… and if so, why? With the new strategy, we are focused even more decisively on global growth with the more profitable premium brands and products. Only five years ago, these products accounted for about 20% of our total revenue; today, this figure is at 30%. At the same time, the share of small domestic appliances in our total revenue is rising as well. In terms of branding, is Gorenje doing anything new or different this year? Since we launched our brand promise Life Simplified we are integrating it into all aspects of our business, not only branding but also product development and design. At IFA, Gorenje is present with a “Time to reconnect” story, which is an upgrade from the last year. We are showing how the right userfriendly appliances can seamlessly integrate with our busy everyday lives, making our household chores easier, our to-do lists shorter, and our life more pleasant, more carefree, thus leaving more time to spare, to enjoy, to reconnect. I know R&D is extremely important for you. What developments are occurring in this department? Over 3% of Gorenje Group's annual revenue is invested in the development of new products. We export as much as 95% of our appliances, therefore all our products are developed for the global market and in line with the latest trends in the home appliances industry. Often, especially in design, we at Gorenje are also the trendsetters in the industry WE ARE REINVENTING THE TRADITIONAL HOME APPLIANCES BY OPTIMISING THE USER EXPERIENCE www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Saturday 2 nd & Sunday 3 rd September 2017 27

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