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2005 Best in Category: Home Environment Electrics

The Holmes Group

Bionaire PERMAtech Ionizing Air Cleaner

As one of the trailblazers of the retail home environment category the past 15 years, the Holmes Groups sees itself as a catalyst in the introduction of new technology and design.

Sharp increases in raw material costs— particularly resin—may prove an even more potent catalyst in getting a new generation of higher-priced innovations by Holmes to market.

With little room to maneuver at the entry and middle ranges of the market as raw material costs continue to escalate, Holmes, like others, might have no choice to but to pass along some price increases this year.

Getting retailers to take price increases of any sort is daunting in the ultra-competitive environment for such categories as portable fans, heaters, humidifiers and air purifiers.

A more productive solution, said Paul Powers, vp and general manager of home environment at Holmes, is a rededication to raising the pricepoint bar with advanced, consumer-inspired products that leave more room for suppliers and retailers to digest raw material cost increases.

To Holmes, an emphasis on better design translates into added value. And that can translate into a premium price tag that consumers are more than willing to embrace.

Holmes’ value-added strategy is aimed at two primary benefactors— consumers seeking improved control over their home comfort and retailers seeking improved productivity at point of sale.

“Holmes has the breadth of product whereby we’ve always built in value-added features,” Powers said. The Holmes home environment lineup includes such brands as Holmes, Bionaire and Patton.

“We’re at a position where we can impact the market by creating value for the consumer that justifies higher retail pricepoints,” Powers continued. “This forces manufacturers and retailers to think more about the consumer— to create value that’s different than just price. That’s good for everybody.”

A recent example of this strategy by Holmes is its Bionaire PERMAtech ionizing air cleaner, a sleek, tower-style designed to remedy consumer concerns about the inconvenience and cost of replacement filters with a washable, permanent, high-efficiency filter.

The PERMAtech earned Best In Category for Home Environment at the 2005 Housewares Design Awards. It marks the second straight Best In Category honor for Holmes, which earned the award for its Bionaire digital tower ceramic heater at the inaugural 2004 Housewares Design Awards.

Powers said Holmes’ value-though-innovation strategy is evident throughout the company’s portfolio. He cited such recent introductions as the Galileo wireless climate control system; and Harmony air cleaners featuring a modular system of same-size filters intended to be easier for consumers to replace and easier for retailers to merchandise.

Holmes also looks to pioneer new home comfort categories. The company partnered with Procter & Gamble in the development of Febreze Scent Stories, featuring a tabletop device that works with consumable compact scent discs to emit various fragrances in sequences arranged to convey certain, relaxation themes.

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