WilfaAn innovative new product line helped Wilfa become a market leader in home appliances
- Business type
- Product SME
- 4 years (ongoing)
- Design support
- Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture
Wilfa is a Norwegian-owned company established in 1948 specialising in small household electrical goods, particularly kitchenware, used daily in homes across Scandinavia.
The runaway success of its Moccamaster coffee percolator transformed it into a super brand in the Nordic region, but over time the company lost sight of what made its original products special. Wilfa gained a reputation with consumers and retailers as being a solid brand, if a little dull. In a matter of years the dated product range all but disappeared from the marketplace.
We ended up in a situation where we had to decide either to lay off staff and become simply a retailer, or to create our own product line. Fortunately our choice was to design our own products.
Today Wilfa is a company rejuvenated, fast becoming one of the leading appliance brands in the Nordic region, with a focus on design, quality, innovation and safety.
How design helped
Wilfa realised they needed help to rejuvenate their product line and contacted the Norwegian Design Council (now the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture). Wilfa asked them to help them find a skilled designer with experience designing electronic products.
The Norwegian Design Council had a clear message for Wilfa: “You are starting at the wrong end”. Their advice was to first define the brand, and then the product goals. This meant asking essential questions such as: Who are we? Where are we going? What are our values?
I’m very happy that we listened to this advice. Through the process with the Norwegian Design Council we set ourselves the goal of becoming leaders in the Nordic region. We made clear our desire to stand out in the market as a company with a unique Nordic identity.
This process gave the company a solid strategic foundation, so when it came to briefing a design agency, they could articulate a clear ambition for how Wilfa products should be perceived.
To undertake the new product development Wilfa partnered with renowned international design firm Designit. Designit started by taking a detailed look at needs of their potential consumers, and what they expected from a coffee maker.
The result was a very valuable market insight: the Nordic region has amongst the highest per capita levels of coffee consumption, but their coffee culture is unique. In spite of the popular trend for flavoured lattes and espressos, within the Nordic region high quality filter coffee is much sought after. How that filter coffee is made, in particular, the temperature of the water, makes a huge difference to the final product.
Starting with a clear set of user requirements, Designit created two completely new filter coffee machines for Wilfa: the Svart Presisjon and the Svart Manuell.
Within a few years, Wilfa transformed itself from an outmoded company with dwindling brand awareness into an award-winning market leader.
Wilfa is now heading into new markets at full speed. In Denmark, the company went from no presence at all, to having a very substantial turnover within three years. Wilfa has also entered the Icelandic market for the first time, and grown sales in Sweden by 30%.
Through design, Wilfa has become a completely different company. We have a whole new reputation, we are a valuable partner for retailers, and we receive an enormous number of qualified applications for our vacancies. However, we must not sit back. We are in a tough market with small margins. Strategic use of design is a key element in our continued existence and profitability.
In addition to kitchenware, Wilfa is now focussing on bringing innovative products to market in categories including personal care and indoor climate control. Over time they have increased their use of design even further, working with a range of designers from different agencies. Since Wilfa began investing in design, the company has received two Red Dot design awards, one iF award and a design prize from the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture.