Arcelik, based in Turkey, is one of the largest white goods (refrigerator, washer / dryer, dishwasher) manufacturers in the world. The company sells white goods and other electronic products in over 100 countries under many brand names with Beko as one of the best known around the world.
What fascinated me about Beko is that they do buyer persona research in many of the countries they sell in and modify product features based on what they learn from consumers.
They key here is that Beko staff develop buyer personas using actual input from interviews. Unlike most companies that dream up product features in a conference room at HQ, Beko taps the marketplace to gather intelligence first.
Consumer insight from the China market
With clothes dryers, Beko marketing people learned through discussions with Chinese consumers that the traditional approach of drying clothing in the sun is an important aspect of Chinese culture. Therefore, Beko learned, it might be too much of a leap for consumers to go from hanging clothes to dry to drying indoors with a dryer.
In particular, Beko learned that in some parts of China, people believe that clothing is part of an individual’s soul. After washing, the clothing must be exposed to sunlight in order to bring the soul back.
Seems like an insurmountable problem, doesn’t it? Not for Beko! They developed a dryer that includes a setting that stops the cycle after clothes are half dry. The consumer then hangs the slightly damp clothing outside in the sun to finish the process. These dryers are selling very well in China.
A setting for rice
Another insight led to product development in the Beko refrigerator line sold in China. As rice is a staple of the Chinese diet, rice storage is important for Chinese families. It turns out that rice is best stored at low humidity at about 10 degrees Celsius. But this is not a good setting for storing fresh foods.
To solve for this insight gained through buyer persona research, Beko product engineers created a three-door fridge that has the usual freezer compartment, refrigerator compartment and a new third door that serves as a compartment for rice storage.
With both the fridge and the dryer, the buyer persona insights are also used to market the product. In particular, the actual words and phrases used by Chinese consumers to describe the way they dry clothing in the sun and how they store rice can be used in the content that Beko creates to describe the products.
At the 2013 IFA Fair, the world's leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, this Beko refrigerator won a coveted innovation award.
You simply can’t make this stuff up in your conference room. The only way to learn about customer needs in a global marketplace is to spend time speaking with buyers in the countries you plan to sell to.
In a similar way to the product development aspects, marketing and advertising of the products also tap insights from buyers so that such assets as web content appeals to consumers in the China market.
In all markets, buyer persona research reveals insights that drive success.