Western Appliance of San Jose, CA is recognized for their innovative marketing of ENERGY STAR labeled appliances. Western Appliance has made ENERGY STAR its “differentiator” and enabled it to successfully compete with “big box” retailers in California’s Bay Area.
Western Appliance operates 10 stores with 64 sales professionals selling kitchen and laundry appliances. The firm grew from a frontier furniture store founded by Jacob Niederauer in Bakersfield shortly after the Civil War. Although still a family enterprise, Western Appliance today focuses on consumer education and specialized promotions to earn it a position as one of the nation’s 30 largest volume retailers. In 2006, sales staff spoke directly to more than 40,000 household decision makers regarding the value proposition of ENERGY STAR major appliance purchase decisions. Semi-annual sales contests reward salespersons generating the highest energy saved through in sales.
Employee turnover at Western Appliance is a low three percent. New hires undergo six weeks of training, including a thorough instruction regarding the commitment to ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. The company uses the majority of its annual $3 million advertising budget to educate consumers on the savings achieved by an ENERGY STAR purchase. “Rate Buster” employee name tags and price tags reinforce the message.
Western Appliance executives participate in energy conference and industry associations, as well as conducting regular strategy sessions with manufacturers of ENERGY STAR qualified products. The company also works with the local utility, PG&E, and serves as a test market partner for projects such as the “Instant Energy Rebate.”
Another innovative promotion is Western Appliances’ ’Water Giveaway,’ whereby seven cases of bottled water are provided to consumers who buy new washing machines. The campaign is a demonstration of the amount of water saved with each load of laundry in some ENERGY STAR qualified machines. Customers have received 13 million pints of free bottled water and Western Appliance estimates that more than 46,000,000 gallons of water have been saved.
The ’Great Idea’ promotion giveaway awards customers with free CFLs — a ’great idea’ for energy efficiency — for the purchase of an ENERGY STAR qualified appliance. In applicable categories, more than 85% of Western’s total $12 million inventory is dedicated to ENERGY STAR labeled models.
Western Appliance estimates that, each year, more than 5 million kWh of electricity have been saved due to sales of ENERGY STAR labeled washing machines and dishwashers.