DüsseldorfFor the family owned Vorwerk group, however, these recipes play an important role. Meanwhile 50.000 housewives joined the “community” – an online forum founded in 2009 by Vorwerk for a kitchen device named “Thermomix”. There they exchange cooking recipes as well as tips and tricks about the several hundred Euro worth “Thermomix” kitchen tool.
As extraordinary as this kitchen device - according to commercials, it substitutes twelve other kitchen devices - is the according forum. “Thanks to the enthusiasm of our customers this forum is working nearly without our involvement” says Christian von Vaernewyck, board member of Vorwerk Germany. For him, the benefits of the community are obvious:”The customer receives additional value”. And the customers receive this value from each other within the community. Certainly, the company is expecting benefits with the access into the world of online networks. This way Vorwerk ensures that no misleading product information comes into circulation.
The online forum is part of a four-pillar internet strategy. The medium-sized Wuppertal based company, known for their vacuum cleaner “Kobold”, has ventured into unchartered terrain, which other companies are still viewing with a certain degree of suspicion. Social networks within the internet are considered as private affairs, difficult to manage, and are rather seen as a disturbing factor within a systematic marketing strategy. This is also the participating professors’ view from the Handelsblatt Management Forum. Companies have to realize, that “they cannot control the digital customer in a world of social networks as they do through traditional marketing channels”, says Professor ShijinYoo from the Korea University Business School.
Networks have long been established. 73% of all internet users are online on a daily basis. 46% of online users are using online networks such as Facebook or Twitter. According to forecasts the number will increase to 64% in four years. “No company can ignore this topic anymore” is the firm belief of Ronny Fürst, director of studies at the European Management School (EMS) in Mainz.
However, the result of this Management Forum also indicates, that companies worldwide are just starting to use social media. A result of the rapid digitalization of communication for the marketing manager: A large part of existing customers will be using social networks on a regular basis, exchange information, discuss, establish new contacts and evaluate products and companies. Consequently, professor Fürst encounters only one way forward:”Reduce the fear of losing control, quickly gather the necessary experience and engage in controlled roll-outs.”