Can Thermomix be successful in the United States?

Thermomix in the United States

Thermomix is actually a German brand, not a French one. Parent company Vorwerk is a family business founded in 1883, in northern Cologne. Produced exclusively in France since its launch in 2014, more than a million units of the TM5, a multi-task robot, were sold in 2015. The company announced its launch in the United States in December 2015.

Thermomix is an intelligent cooking robot…very intelligent. It combines traditional robot functions like mixing, blending, chopping, etc. to more unique ones like weighing, steaming, and even cooking. Furthermore, it has an easy-to-use display. Overall, I would liken it to the “iPhone” of robots. In 2015, Vorwerk sold more than one million units, despite its €1,109 price tag.

Don’t be deceived. Thermomix is a German brand, not a French one, even though the multi-use robot is manufactured in France. The parent company is called Vorwerk, a family business founded in 1883. On Dec. 27, Les Echos, a leading French newspaper called the company a SME.  With over €3 billion in sales, it is definitely playing in the big leagues.

Thermomix, a Franco-German success story

That’s what Les Echos, a French newspaper says about Thermomix:

“The origin of the TM cooking robot is an example of Franco-German cooperation. In the early 1970s, Vorwerk invested in a production site in Cloyes-sur-le-Loir (Eure-et-Loir), manufacturing mixers and vacuum cleaners. During a business meeting there in which tomato soup was served, a German salesman suggested that his French colleague design a device capable of both mixing and cooking vegetables. A short time later, the Thermomix was born. Today, Cloyes-sur-le-Loir is the leading manufacturing facility for the robot, ahead of Wuppertal, where a second production line is being constructed.”

Does it have a chance to succeed in the United States?

I would love to see Vorwerk’s surveys about launching in the American market. At first glance, a “smart” robot seems attractive for North American homes.

Unfortunately, my experiences in the United States have been the complete opposite. Fast food is prevalent in many homes, in the form of pizzas, burgers, tacos, etc. It’s not hard to see this after a trip to a few of the local supermarkets. Even though Americans have a wide variety of perfumes, low-fat products and product sizes, the overall choice of products is actually quite limited. I can only think of one exception: breakfast cereal.

Home cooking is rare. According to an April 2014 New York Times article, Americans consumed 31% more packaged foods than fresh foods 1). Meals are taken to go, and are viewed as a necessity.

Other than Thanksgiving, on the last Thursday in November, Americans don’t cook very much. Thanksgiving is the only day when all – absolutely all stores are closed. It is even a challenge to fuel up! Anyway, that day is a big celebration and Americans take time to cook a turkey and all the fixings. I will refer you to my post about it for further information.

Eating with your fingers is also very popular. One out of four Americans claims to eat fast food every day 2). and 20% eat in their cars 3). As parents, we have to fight the bad habits our children learn in American cafeterias on a daily basis. My six year-old son no longer holds his cutlery properly, he’s reverted into baby mode and spontaneously grabs them with a fist.

In this kind of environment, how will the new Thermomix find its place in the United States? Then again, even carving out a small niche in a market of 320 million people is very attractive!

Sources
1) Fairfield, Hannah. “Factory Food.” The New York Times. Accessed April 14, 2014. .
2) Schlosser, Eric. “Americans Are Obsessed with Fast Food: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.” CBSNews. Accessed April 14, 2014. 
3) Stanford University. “What’s for Dinner?.” Multidisciplinary Teaching and Research at Stanford. Accessed April 14, 2014. 
Crédit photo: Thermomix

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