Executive Brand Director Todd Getz oversees the billion-dollar GE franchise.
GE’s Todd Getz has the awesome responsibility of guiding one of the world’s largest brands
By Alan Wolf, YSN
Todd Getz has a lot on his plate.
As executive brand director of the GE and GE Profile appliance badges, he is responsible for the care and nurturing of over $6.2 billion in business for the “Louisville sluggers.”
Like many on the company’s senior management team, Getz came to GE Appliances (GEA), based in Louisville, by way of the packaged-goods world. His brand management portfolio includes stints at Procter & Gamble (Head & Shoulders); Colgate Palmolive (toothpastes, toothbrushes and rinses); Sally Hansen (beauty products); Coty (Nautica, Vera Wang, Guess, Beyonce and Katy Perry fragrances); and Nutritious Snacks, where he led a $100 million health bar business.
But his Fortune 500 resume was born of a small-business background. Getz grew up in Cincinnati around the family jewelry business founded by his grandfather, and that grounding has given him a special appreciation and admiration for the independent dealer.
Today, Getz leverages each of those influences in his current role at GEA, where, for nearly four years, he’s been juggling branding, advertising, channel management, sales, consumer research and product development duties for the vendor’s flagship and mass premium appliance lines. As he explained at last year’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (KBIS), “The GE brand is the crown jewel of our organization, and we continued our business momentum in the face of a very challenging year.”
Getz recently spoke with YSN about bringing his consumer goods background to bear for GEA, and how he has helped make the GE nameplate one of the fastest-growing billion-dollar brands.
On the Benefits of a Packaged Goods Background
Following GEA’s acquisition by Haier and the addition of Chief Commercial Officer Rick Hasselbeck, himself a former P&G exec, the company revamped its branding strategy. “There was a big focus on going from a branded house to a house of brands,” Getz said. “That’s Rick’s background, of ‘How do we create those brands and that story?’ I always think of it as an evolution of our company, versus a revolution.”
To that end, the marketing function was expanded from a traditional advertising and sales-assets approach to a more holistic strategy that encompassed “brand stories” and messaging that went beyond shoppers to include owners and retailers as well.
“We brought in some people who had that brand expertise,” he said, including his own experience at working on flagship businesses.
“It’s been a nice build as we’ve grown out the brands under the leadership of Rick and Mary [Putman, vice president of marketing & brand],” he said. “And obviously our sales organization is phenomenal. Café was incredibly strong and is just getting stronger, and I’ve spent a lot of my time on Profile as well as GE. There was a lot of work focused on Monogram, and a lot of great stuff is coming for Hotpoint too.”
On GEA’s Collaborative Style
Although Getz wears many hats as executive brand director, he’s quick to share credit with the entire GEA team.
“We’re a matrix organization,” he said. “So, there’s obviously our product teams, our sales teams, our brand teams and finance,” among other disciplines. The groups work collaboratively to manage all the components of a brand, from consumer perceptions and positioning to sales performance, market trends and channel strategy.
“Part of my role is working with the product teams and working very closely with sales on what we can do to meet the needs of the consumer and our customers,” he said. “And I think that’s something that we’ve been able to do pretty well, by teasing those brands apart.”
On Consumer Segmentation
“There are segments of appliance consumers that are looking for different things,” Getz said. “So what we are doing is building our brands to meet the needs of those different consumers, and I think that’s what’s contributed to the great results we’ve had.”
GEA looks at the market from both a price-point perspective with its mass, mass premium and luxury tiers, and by a breakdown of consumer behaviors into five separate segments or types. The opening price-point Hotpoint brand, for example, aligns with what Getz calls the “uncommitted upstarts” — young, urban consumers, perhaps with small kids, who are busy establishing their first households outside the nest.
By comparison, the mass market GE brand appeals to the traditionalist consumer. “They want value, but they also want innovation and are willing to pay for it,” he said. “They just don’t need all the buttons. What they really want is quality, dependability and trust.”
Further up the ladder, the booming mass premium tier, which makes up over 35 percent of the market, comprised of two distinct segments, which Getz calls “feature seekers” and “style stewards.” The former, which are addressed by the Profile camp, “really want the latest technology,” Getz said. “They’re aware of what companies are launching and they want to be the first to get those things. They’re willing to replace perfectly good working appliances. But they also really like to cook and do chores and they’re the person who learns how to use all 35 settings.”
On the other hand, style stewards, as the name implies, “really care most about style and design,” and as targeted by Café, have been a big part of GEA’s growth. “Those are consumers who really care most about style and design,” Getz continued. “Obviously our Café products have incredible features, but what that consumer really wants is that self-expression — they want the customizable handles and love the matte finishes. They really want the kitchen to be a reflection of themselves.”
An offshoot of the Style Steward is the “discerning connoisseur”— GEA’s take on the luxury consumer, who is served through Monogram. Although they comprise only 2 percent of the market, discerning connoisseurs make a significant contribution in dollars. “They’re probably not thinking as much about price,” Getz said. “They want the best, they want quality materials, and the work we’ve done with Monogram to provide that has been great.”
“We found that our segments really lined up with the brands that we had, and we just had to do some work to evolve and develop our brand stories,” he said. But the slicing and dicing doesn’t end there, as GEA is also looking at its segments through the prism of age.
“We’re wondering how all those segments vary in strength or importance by generation, and what a younger feature seeker looks like, because technology is so much more pervasive for a younger audience that grew up with it,” he said. “So we look to understand how we can evolve our brand story, to refresh it, and to be more relevant to that next generation of owners.”
On the Impact of the Pandemic
“We had good momentum going into COVID, and there’s been a nice bump with people investing in their homes, preparing their meals at home, and staying home more often, which has been great for the industry,” Getz said. Particularly fortuitous for GE was a pre-pandemic deal with Microban and its corporate parent, P&G, for the use of its antimicrobial technology in the vendor’s UltraFresh GE washers and Profile dishwashers.
“But the pandemic’s obviously come with a lot of challenges on the supply-chain side, which everyone from the manufacturers to the customers are all feeling,” Getz said. Nevertheless, “I think we feel pretty good about our strategy and continue to get the numbers. We’ve always prided ourselves on being the best company to do business with, and we continue to get really great feedback from customers.”
“It’s obviously been a tough stretch,” Getz said. “It’s a dynamic market and we’ve certainly had our bumps. But we appreciate the partnership and collaboration that we have with the BrandSource members. BrandSource has been such a core pillar of our company for a long time, and we take our relationship very seriously. We understand how important getting product is to their businesses, and that’s been our number one priority.”
“For us it’s not just, ‘Let’s show up for a Summit or Convention every six months,’” he said. “It’s ‘Show up every day and be there for them.’ It’s answering the phone when there’s a question. We want to make sure we’re supplying you and supporting you.
“So to the dealers I would just say, thank you. We’re here to help.”
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture, and CE dealers.