The Thermomix phenomenon: a success story in digital transformation
In a very entertaining and impressive way, the two speakers Kai Schäffner, President of Vorwerk USA and Prof. Dr. Alexander Wurzer, Managing Director Wurzer & Kollegen, described the success story of the new Thermomix TM5 in the Marketing Club Munich. The quantum leap from the “simple” kitchen appliance to the multifunctional and smart product is a lesson in digital transformation.
In his presentation, Mr. Schäffner explained the Thermomix’s comprehensive eco-system. For example, the digital connection of the device to the fan community gives the user access to one of the largest recipe platforms in the world. The great flexibility in terms of dishes and ingredients is also one of the decisive purchasing arguments. The device can be used for an incredible number of recipes, from soups and salads to meat dishes to desserts and baked goods. Digital recipe chips relieve inexperienced chefs from almost all work steps using guided cooking.
from left Prof. Dr. Alexander Wurzer, Johannes Spannagl, Kai Schäffner
Prof. Wurzer vividly described a new strategy for dealing with intellectual property, specifically the very early integration of IP management into the product development process. Instead of protecting technical features from imitation as before, IP would be used to make the perceived customer benefits exclusive in the market: flexibility, time savings, safety and the guarantee of success. Prof. Wurzer explained that a protective wall of 160 patent applications for the TM5 – more than ten times as many as for the previous model – keeps the competition at a distance.
This strategy shows its success. As Kai Schäffner reported, a Thermomix is sold every 30 seconds worldwide. The TM5, introduced in 2014, has become a cult object for amateur and professional chefs. Despite various attempts at imitation, the TM5 remains exclusive in the customer’s perception and achieves premium prices and high market penetration. Both speakers impressively demonstrated the conceptual interaction of marketing and IP management, which made a significant contribution to success.
Marketing Club München: Get together and intensive discussions about the impact of the IP strategy as a contribution to the success of the Thermomix phenomenon.
Event at the Marketing Club München: “Das Phänomen Thermomix: eine Erfolgsstory der digitalen Transformation”
Text: Johannes Spannagl, Wieselhuber & Partner GmbH, München
was Senior Vice President Marketing at Vorwerk International in Wollerau / Switzerland. As a board member for the Thermomix division, he was responsible for international marketing and product innovations. Since May 1st, 2016 he has been responsible for setting up the Thermomix business in North America.
Prof. Dr. Alexander J. Wurzer
is Professor for IP Management at the Center d’Etudes Internationales de la Propriété Intellectuelle (CEIPI) at the University of Strasbourg and head of the Steinbeis Transfer Institute for Intellectual Property Management at the Steinbeis University in Berlin. In addition, he is the managing partner of the Munich-based consulting firm Wurzer & Kollegen, which specializes in strategic IP management.