Think of luxury appliances and one name stands towards the top of the list. Viking. A combination of innovative marketing and products with the muscle to back up the claims have taken Viking’s appliances to the upper echelons of the food chain and kept them there for over two decades. Appliances Connection talks to Viking’s Director of Marketing, Tim Tyler, fresh from a trip to the White House for the Made In America showcase, about all things Viking.
APPLIANCES CONNECTION: Viking has established itself as one of the pre-eminent appliance brands over the last two decades or so, particularly for ranges. Obviously, the product is top notch, but the marketing was groundbreaking. The Viking Experience, through the Viking Cooking School, helped it become the go-to brand for chefs and an aspirational, lifestyle appliance for consumers. Other companies have since copied the approach. How do you keep Viking on the cutting edge?
TIM TYLER: Yes, Viking is the originator of commercial-type cooking equipment for the home and invented this entire category of premium appliances that allows owners to cook like a professional chef at home. What continues to set Viking apart is that we are an ultra-premium brand that provides true commercial cooking technologies by incorporating the innovation from our Middleby sister companies. Middleby is the largest commercial equipment manufacturer in the world and owns over 50 commercial equipment companies that outfit 2 out of 3 kitchens in the world. Viking is part of the Middleby Residential group and we are able to borrow features and technologies from our commercial side to give the Viking consumer true restaurant performance for their home.
AC: What are the company’s best-selling products and why?
TT: The 5 Series cooking products are the classic Viking products that continue to sell extremely well. Our new 7 Series product, with advanced commercial technology, is exploding because there is nothing like it in the marketplace. The new Viking 7 Series ranges feature 23,000 BTU elevated surface burners adapted from the commercial side, combined with a fully-featured convection oven to create a restaurant-caliber range unlike any other in the residential market.
Our new 7 series built in refrigeration columns, available in 36”W. bottom freezer and 24”W. All Refrigerator and 24”W. All Freezer, are really taking off and Viking is becoming known as a premier refrigeration company. The exclusive BlueZone Fresh Preservation System sets Viking refrigeration apart with a unique, patented air cleaning technology that strips microbes, ethylene gas, hydrocarbons, and odors from the air. This technology, once used for commercial use is now available for residential use. It significantly extends food shelf life, quality, and flavor and slows ripening, reduces mold, and eliminates odors
AC: Have you noticed certain demographics lean towards certain products? We recently ran a piece with celebrities who have Viking ranges and it was striking.
TT: Yes, Viking is the go-to brand for celebrities that are in the know and chefs when they cook at home. We always say if you cook and truly know about cooking, you want Viking. Viking has traditionally been extremely strong on the east coast and west coast, but sales in all major markets are growing.
AC: What other new products are you excited about? People often associate the company with ranges and then refrigerators but you manufacture many other appliances. What should we be looking out for?
TT: There are many innovative products, like the Viking TurboChef Speed Cook Oven, in the works right now with technology that will help the consumer become a better cook.
TT: Recently there’s been a huge movement for technology being integrated into new products, almost to the point where it seems appliances may be able to surf the web for recipes, order food, and cook meals too! Where does Viking stand on the advances in technology?
AC: At Viking, we are focused on applying technology that improves cooking performance and delivers restaurant caliber results. We are rolling out apps that provide convenience but the real innovation is the game-changing cooking and refrigeration technology that is being applied from the commercial side to our residential side. Commercial grade convection ovens, infrared broilers in the oven cavities, tower burners that are powerful on the high end and also allow gentle simmer on the low end. Technologies like these provide better cooking results.
AC: Viking appliances are at the upper end of the price spectrum for the average consumer, many of whom would love to own your products. How do you appeal to customers who have more moderately priced alternatives?
TT: We are finding that people that are passionate about cooking invest in Viking, because they know the product will provide professional performance and will last a long time. We do offer a 3 Series line of products that are available in smaller, more replacement type sizes. The price point is a little less and provides a way to have a starter Viking kitchen for under $10,000.