Case study: Seymour Powell and Rowenta

Electronic goods manufacturer SEB has worked with Seymour Powell for ten years. When a range of new Rowenta vacuum cleaners was being launched, the consultancy was commissioned by French-based Jacques Bonnet, SEB Group’s vice-president of marketing for home-cleaning appliances, to work on a model for the European market.

Bonnet says the UK group was chosen because ‘they are more Latin than our German designers’ and he was impressed by Seymour Powell’s approach in terms of technical skills. Dick Powell recalls he found the project interesting because, at the time, Rowenta’s in-house department designed one model under the Rowenta brand name for the German market, while Seymour

Powell’s design was for the Calor brand for the rest of the European market. ‘Ours is much softer and more European whereas Rowenta is a more German, teutonic brand,’ comments Powell.

He says the Rowenta team was ‘very good to work with’ because the in-house engineers are used to working with in-house designers. ‘Often there can be friction working with in-house teams, with us trying to push as hard as we can and having a vision for a great product which is diluted by cost and what the managing director’s wife thinks.’

Bonnet says he was pleased with the end result. ‘They are very, very organised and the relationship between their designers and our R&D department was very fluent in terms of modernity and technical skills. They are very up-to-date, which makes the project faster.’

The geographical distance was not a problem, adds Bonnet, as meetings were often held at airports. ‘Clearly, in terms of price, they are a little bit above average, but I don’t mind as long as the project goes well.’

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