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Samsung innovates in the fridge market

With color panels and modular units, White Good mold is broken
June 05,2019
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Kim Hyun-suk, head of consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics, showcases the company’s new refrigerator. Customers can customize the appearance of the appliance. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]
Samsung Electronics is trying to make refrigerators cool.

Its new Bespoke line allows customers to change the look and dimensions of the appliance at will, with the use of colorful attachable panels and modular sub-units.

Over 20,000 combinations are possible.

The hope is that the flexibility and customizable nature of the products will attract millennials. According to the company, this demographic values uniqueness and the ability to change their environment. Samsung sees it as a source of strong demand.

When customers buy Bespoke refrigerators, they choose which panels they want. Nine colors are available to choose from. If they want to alter the look, they just purchase different panels.

They can get a different look without having to buy a whole new unit.

In addition, the refrigerators are not as deep as classic models, so they don’t protrude so far from the wall.

“Millennials today are creating many changes, and even older people like me are following their trend,” said Kim Hyun-suk, head of consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics, at a press event held in southern Seoul on Tuesday.

“The three keywords that represent millennials are individuality, experience and sharing. They value experiences centering on themselves, and willingly share those experiences with others on social media.”

Millennials, who are primarily in their 20s and 30s now, are a key market for Samsung in general. Last month, the company introduced the Sero TV, a vertical television that is designed for those who are used to watching videos on their smartphones.

The Bespoke refrigerator is part of Samsung’s Project Prism. A prism, which separates white light into various colors, symbolizes the company’s goal of providing a diverse range of experiences.

“Project prism is a fundamental strategy that Samsung’s consumer electronics division will follow,” according to Kim.

Eight different types of units are being offered.

While they are all of the same size, the Bespoke refrigerator units can be connected to each other in a modular fashion to build a custom unit or upgrade an existing unit.

A single household, for instance, can purchase a one-door module. If they later need a bigger refrigerator, they can order additional modules and connect them to the existing refrigerator.

“Depending on the size, design and function, up to 22,000 combinations can be created,” said Kim. “The ultimate goal is to offer infinite options and present specific furniture that matches an individual’s desire and fits their space and culture.”

The price ranges from 1.04 million ($879) won to 4.84 million won depending on the level of customization.

Samsung’s refrigerator revolution was inevitable as the market for the product has been stagnant for a number of years.

“The refrigerator market in Korea did not grow over the past three to four years,” said a spokesperson for Samsung. “We believe that is because refrigerators in the market all have similar designs and colors, and therefore, people did not feel the need to buy a new one. By generating new demand, we hope to raise the company’s sales.”

Samsung said it plans to export Bespoke refrigerators. The types of colors and the designs offered will be different from those in Korea to better suit the tastes of target markets.

The company said it hopes to release two or three more household appliances this fall under Project Prism this year.

Samsung also plans to introduce products that target older consumers, as society is aging and demand is seen as high among older Koreans.

“Although we are not yet in the stage of launching specific products [for the aging society], we are working on it. Some of the appliances could be released early next year at the earliest,” said Kim.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]