GE Appliances is introducing a Café brand of appliances with matte finishes and customizable knobs and handles that it hopes will disrupt the $4.5 billion mass premium market.
The Louisville-based appliance maker is banking on unique finishes and a focus on design to draw upper middle class customers whose tastes have been refined in an era of Instagram, Pinterest and HGTV shows such as “House Hunters,” “Fixer Upper” and “Property Brothers.” Kitchen designs also are gaining importance as customers increasingly buy and build homes with open floor plans in which kitchens become gathering places for family and friends.
The Café brand previously existed as GE Café, but is being updated to be called just Café, in a continuation of the company’s strategy to move away from a single GE brand to a “house of brands” with separate identities and customers.
While the company’s high-end Monogram brand targets the top 2 percent or 3 percent of customers, the Café line is geared toward the top 25 percent of customers.
It’s about “bringing luxury to the masses,” said Wayne Davis, senior brand director of Café.
The brand’s Matte Collection comes in white with bronze knobs and handles, while the black appliances are equipped with stainless steel hardware. However, customers also can order hardware in copper if they want to customize the look of their kitchens. Consumers also can update the appliance hardware if they update their kitchen.
The appliances, some of which are being manufactured in Louisville’s Appliance Park, don’t come cheap: A dishwasher costs about $1,749, while a refrigerator goes for more than $3,000. A dual-fuel professional range with six burners can be yours for $7,100.
The products will be available for order at retailers beginning Wednesday. Information on the appliances also is available at a dedicated Café website.
Davis, speaking by phone from New York City, where GEA officials were meeting with industry media ahead of the introduction, told Insider that in updating the Café brand, the company is tapping into insights GEA gained through conversations with interior designers, appliance retailers and consumers.
While the company declined to disclose market share information, Davis said the company expects the updated Café brand to attract new customers.
“People love talking about design,” he said. “This is a huge step for the business.”