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122: Brand Story Time with Todd Getz from GE Appliances

Written by Rob Stott

June 7, 2022

ge appliances Todd Getz independent thinking podcast

A lot of work and effort goes into crafting an effective brand story. Just ask Todd Getz, Executive Brand Director for GE and GE Profile, who has made stops at Coca-Cola, P&G and Colgate Palmolive before landing in Louisville. Todd shares his experience at GEA and dives into some of the things he’s working on.


 

Rob Stott: All right, we’re back on the Independent Thinking Podcast and a real cool opportunity this week. We’re sitting down with one of our vendor partners in the appliance space, and today we got Mr. Todd Getz or GE Appliances, the Executive Brand Director for GE and GE Profile. I get that right?

Todd Getz: You did. It’s- it’s a mouthful.

Rob Stott: (laughs) Well, we appreciate you taking the time, Todd. I know you’re on the road and constantly moving it seems like, but appreciate you finding some minutes to be able to sit down and chat with us today.

Todd Getz: Really happy to… Really happy to be here and talk about the business.

Rob Stott: Yeah. So, well, before we dive into the business, tell us a little bit about yourself. I mean, who is Todd Getz, and what’s your background and what brought you to GE Appliances?

Todd Getz: Sure. So it’s great to be here. Really excited to be with everyone. So, my name’s Todd Getz, as you mentioned, I’m the Brand Director for GE and GE Profile and GE Appliances. I’ve been here for four years. My background, born and raised in Cincinnati, die-hard sports fan all things Cincinnati. Started out my career doing sports marketing for Coca-Cola in Atlanta where I went to college and then I was a college tennis player and I … the sports marketing really interested me and then working for Coca-Cola, I kind of became more interested in brand management in the marketing side than actually just the sports side.

So I ended up going to business school at Indiana which was a great experience. And then I ended up back in Cincinnati where I’m from, working for Procter & Gamble, which which I loved, and just learned an incredible amount. I was there for a few years, and then just for personal and just wanted to live in a bigger city, I ended up moving to New York, and working for Colgate Palmolive. P&G and Colgate are very strong competitors, so it was like… (laughing) It was definitely very interesting. But, I spent 12 years at Colgate in New York. Spent one year in Toronto on a expat assignment, but had a, just a great experience there.

Did base business, did innovation, did shopper marketing and just had a lot of great business experiences. A lot of collaboration with retailers and customers which, you know, it’s a very commercial oriented role, and I think as I’ve come to GE Appliances I think that’s one thing, as people look at the marketing function and kind of learn how much, you know, from a commercial standpoint, our experiences are … After 12 years, had a great time up there. Wanted to get a little closer to home so I moved back to Ohio. I went to Columbus, and I worked for Abbott Nutrition-

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Todd Getz: … um, where I was there for a few years. Was the General Manager of their nutritious snacks business, and then had an opportunity, some colleagues that I had known way back with P&G, I ended up at a dinner amongst friends and the next thing you know I’m in Louisville working for GE Appliances. And it’s just really exciting, and, you know, this was probably right after the acquisition by Haier.

And so, it just was really exciting to hear what the company was doing, and now having been here for four years to be part of it and see just the momentum and where we’ve gone is, it’s exciting.

Rob Stott: Yeah. And the- I mean, obviously, some really cool brands from the time you graduate to where you are today. I know they’re all big brands, too, so does anything kind of carry across your experiences, as far as, you know, what you’ve been able to apply or learn about each of the brands?

Todd Getz: You know, I- I think the thing you learn is, it’s just always thinking around your consumer or your shopper, and what are they interested in. One of the good learnings is always kind of as a marketer is, you’re not the customer.

You know, you wanna build it for what your consumer wants, and then also the customer. And so, you know, whether that’s an independent retailer, whether that’s a Target or a Walmart, you know, they are your partner. And they are the gatekeeper to your consumer, and so just the importance of balancing that relationship and really thinking around this experience. And so, whether it was… You know, you don’t really have… When you’re working on Coca-Cola you don’t really have to drive awareness, right?

Rob Stott: Right.

Todd Getz: How do you strengthen that relationship? I worked on Head & Shoulders at P&G and it was really understanding, you know, half the people do technically have dandruff, and then you get to Colgate, et cetera, and you just learn all of these really interesting stories on each brand, GE and Profile no different of what is that consumer want? They have very specific needs, wants, what they’re thinking about and how do you build the story, and I think is… You know, I can speak to GE and Profile, but I think as a company we’ve done a great job with Monogram and Café and, and, and Hotpoint. The GE consumer wants different things than the Profile consumer and there’s no better or worse. They’re just different, and how do you craft the product and the story so that you can give each of them what they want, and I think that’s really been a key part to our success.

Rob Stott: Yeah. One- one other question just about the the differences between kind of where you come from and where you are now, that the product, too, obviously, a little bit different product very d- something that is, of course, larger, but also, you know, you think about the- the type of consumer. You know, I know a lot of appliances we know that the majority of appliance, people making purchases duress, right? So the- that’s a new kind of aspect you have to take into, you know, what you’re considering. How big a factor does that, or how big of an adjustment was that for you?

Todd Getz: I don’t know… I- I think it was just learning, right? I think it’s always learning what, you know, what that consumer is thinking about and what drives their purchase. What drives their need. What drives their, you know, “Hey, I need to go to the store,” and, you know, when you go from a consumable good where people are buying toothpaste and shampoo six to eight times a year, (laughing) you have an appliance where people are buying it, you know, once every six years. That’s a very different thing, and I think that’s why, you know, we really try to think around the ownership experience from when you start shopping to when you purchase to think through the delivery and then, to your point, as obviously, you know, we definitely pride ourselves on our, our quality and our dependability. But- but things happen and you wanna make sure that, that those consumers and customers have the best experience with your brand as possible.

Rob Stott: So talk about your role and kind of what you do on a regular basis for the GE and GE Profile brands.

Todd Getz: Yeah, I mean, what I really like and what I love about my job is, you know, A. Seeing the shift in the company of, just obviously we had been a fantastic company for a long time, but just this shift in terms of really trying to drive more significant growth. And so, I definitely think around, I have GE which is just the crown jewel of our company, a massive business, and, you know, really wanting to make sure that we keep that healthy and drive continued growth. And then really thinking around GE Profile where we’ve made some pretty significant growth.

And so, whether it’s thinking around the different brands, or what I like about marketing and whether that’s been at any of the companies, but GE Appliances is no different. Every day for me is different. One day you’ll be out with a customer. One day you’ll be working on an ad. One day you’ll really be looking at forecasting. One day you’ll be at a trade show. One day you’ll be doing something for PR or one day you’ll be, you know, in the plants or really working with the product technology team. And so-

Rob Stott: Did you just dive into my calendar? I just wanted… Like, also, I feel like that we can very much relate there. (laughs) You know.

Todd Getz: Yeah. And it- it’s really… it’s so, it’s really fun to get to kind of use all these different … all these different things, and so it’s… You know, every day is different and I think that keeps it really exciting, but that’s also where knowing what your brand is and being that guiding light for all those things and how they fit together.

Rob Stott: Yeah. So, talk about how much of your role is consumer-facing as opposed to working with the retailers and helping them craft that message around how they talk about the- the brands and the products.

Todd Getz: I’d probably say 50/50. It’s definitely very commercially oriented, you know. We try and really get out a lot. There’s a lot of trade shows. There’s customer appointments, et cetera. I think that’s really where COVID was a pretty significant shift for everybody, whether that was customers going into showrooms, just limiting the ability to travel. And, you know, I think that everyone, our Zoom call no different, (laughing) um, I think it showed that you don’t always have to physically be there. You can really have good discussions and do those things. But, you know, I believe it’s really important what I kind of work with my team on, and I think our company is no different, is just the importance of both. One doesn’t happen without the other. Our customers and our consumers are going into showrooms and stores. We need to make sure that that customer experience when they go into the showroom represents the brand, so, there’s almost a way where they really come together.

Rob Stott: Yeah. No, it make- makes perfect sense. So, and along those lines, you know, what are some of those things that you’re telling the retailers right now that they might need to be aware of, or the way they need to position things? Or what’s sort of the, I guess, mission right now for you when it comes to talking and sharing your brand message with retailers?

Todd Getz: You know what? I think one thing that’s really a big plus is just this continued push towards getting connected, and just the evolution of the smarter home. And so, you know, consumers, we saw a big push in adoption over COVID as people learned all the different functionality that a lot of the products that they have, and so, it’s been a big plus for us in terms of making more of our Profile appliances Wi-Fi connected. We have the greatest number of offerings that are connected. And now we’ve really started to deliver these upgrades in these this great technology over the air, and so if you’ve got one of our ranges, it’ll download the Air Fry capability.

And so we started — we did an Air Fry upgrade and we did a turkey mode, and then just this week we launched in our built-in ovens, something we call steakhouse mode, which really helps improve that technology. And so, you know, kind of flipping the paradigm of, you know, just like your smartphone. Your appliance is only gonna get better as you have it in your own, and it’s not, you know, like that case of, “Hey, I bought it and every day forward it’s less capable.” Now it’s more capable, and so I think that’s part of not just the product but then also balancing your in-showroom experience with being online, and, how your consumers are spending more time doing that shopping and learning about the products before they come into the showroom. And so, I think that connected and that digital age is no different.

Rob Stott: Oh, it’s- it’s cool, too, because, they- you know, I- just we- added some Café appliances to our- our kitchen not too long ago, and I think we got that Air Fry push right after we installed the thing, so that sounds pretty familiar.

Todd Getz: Yeah.

Rob Stott: But I mean, need to… You- you talk about the showroom experience, but also the customer experience, and to your point about upgrading, you know, it kind of alleviates those concerns around, “Oh, I got- I got this range,” and you don’t wanna have that smartphone experience where a new iPhone comes out and all of a sudden you’re worried about the fact, “Do I have to upgrade my…” Like get a new iPhone. And, no, it’s gonna get the software updates if you will and update things for you.

Todd Getz: If I could ask what- what finish of Café did you get?

Rob Stott: Ah, the matte black.

Todd Getz: Wow. Great.

Rob Stott: Waited a little longer for it, but it’s, (laughs) you know, we got it, and it looks really nice.

Todd Getz: It’s really cool. What handles?

Rob Stott: Uh, so we got the- the stainless right now, and we looked at the brushed bronze and champaign, but, you know, we didn’t want to be too gaudy in our kitchen. (laughs) So…

Todd Getz: I think it’s just exciting. Listen, I focus on GE and Profile, but for us as one company, it’s just been incredible to see what the Café brand has done, and that choice and that personalization that’s possible.

Rob Stott: Yeah, it is neat. They’re… I mean, endless options. The fact that you could swap them out, too, is something I think that’s pretty cool. So if we ever do decide we wanna change the handles it’s something we can look into.

Todd Getz: I know, right.

Rob Stott: Another way of just increasing that personalization and, you know, making it… You don’t have to do too much to it to make it feel like a new appliance.

Todd Getz: Well, and- and- and that’s, you know, to the consumer, that’s something that the Café consumer is really interested in that style and design, and that idea of personalizing. And it doesn’t mean that- that they’re not interested in features. It’s just that style and design is the driver-

Rob Stott: Right.

Todd Getz: Whereas on Profile it would be, you know, the features, they make one as much technologically packed with features.

Rob Stott: Well, to that end, talk about the different types of consumers. Help the retailer out there that maybe, you know, isn’t- isn’t 100% aware, or maybe even a little confused. What is the difference between, you know, the type of consumer that they should target with the different, you know, brands within the GE umbrella.

Todd Getz: Yeah, I mean, we try to have brands that really hit the needs of different consumers. And so, it starts with our core GE business. It’s really going after that mass market consumer, you know. They want trust, they want quality, they want dependability, they want features, but they don’t need every feature under the sun. We have GE Profile that, you know, as somebody that really does want more of those features and technology. You know, Café really leans in on style and design.

We have our Monogram business, that’s targeting the luxury space. And hotpoint, that is a little bit more of that luxury consumer, so when you think around your typical, your typical tiers, price tiers, I mean, we kind of just meet the needs of a lot of different consumers rather than that one shot fits all. And I think even in other industry from my own experience, you know, I- I spent a lot of my time in my career at Colgate working on Colgate Total, which was always this all-in-one you know, seven, eight benefits in one, and, you know, scientifically, just one of the most fantastic products I’ve ever worked on.

But I think that you start to see that, you know, people now are starting to evolve and maybe get those certain areas that they really want, so and in toothpaste you saw that go into somebody that really wants whitening, or somebody that really wants gum care. I think appliances are no different, of the style and the design, the features, the aesthetic, the usability, or somebody who just wants a really good value.

Rob Stott: Yeah. No. Need to say, again, how the kind of the way you position products and things like that, those conversations can blend across industries, which is pretty cool for sure. But I know, it’s been neat to see even, just, in covering the space and watching the appliances, how GE, the four brands have sort of evolved over time and the talk around them and things like that.

I know, in your four years you’ve seen a lot of evolution in sort of how the messaging has shifted. What kind of insight can you give on how those kinds of decisions are made about how to talk about the different products?

Todd Getz: Yeah. I mean, it starts with just the real mindset of being in a different company, and our leadership, you know, really just set a really good vision on, we want to grow, we wanna be more aggressive in the marketplace, but at the same time I think our messaging, you know, our relationships with the independent retailer and with our customers has always been, if not the, one of the top focuses of the company. It’s something we pride ourselves on in that no matter how much we drive growth, that is a cornerstone of the company.

The last few years have been bumpy, but I feel very proud, and I think people would recognize that, you know, we have really tried to maintain that focus with the customers in helping serve them. Obviously, everyone’s aware of just some of the challenges. We’ll get through it, but those tough times are really where you see what people are made of, right? And, and how you can stick with it. I think for us on focusing on growth and just as we think around the brands, that’s also given us the time just to continue to build our brand story to be as strong as possible for each of those consumers.

And I think that, for me, one of the interesting things coming in at… You know, I’ve been here for four years, so I still think of myself as kind of a newbie which is, I know it’s odd for four years, (laughing) but, but I just think, it’s all built on just great people in our company. I mean, we have a very rich legacy, but to see that the evolution in driving the growth, and, just how the company has evolved and gone through that evolution. Those things don’t just change overnight. And so, when you think around messaging, you do want to evolve, but, you know, sometimes revolution can be very difficult.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Todd Getz: And so, keeping that evolution and driving focus on sustaining GE and being healthy with, you know, driving Profile and Café and Monogram, it- it’s never one at the expense of the other, right? It’s how do we keep all the brands healthy and keep it evolving. So, I think that’s always a balancing act, and, the last few years have maybe required a little more balance than people would have thought, but, everyone’s going through the same thing, so that’s life, and we keep going.

Rob Stott: And, well, hey, to that, I mean, you joined at a time where, you know, looks like, every- everything was riding high in ’19, right, and- and things were chugging along and moving and then ’20 hits and it’s a slightly different story. So you’ve gotten to kind of see the brands sort of move through this. Did that period of time give you an opportunity to pause and maybe focus in on the how, the way you talked about the brands at all? Or anything like that?

Todd Getz: You know, I think it only validated the strategy that we were on, because, I joined in 2018. I think we were already on a really good trajectory. We had done a lot with Profile, we had done a partnership with the Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, and that was something where, to be able to bring a Star Wars movie to the independent retailer who, you know, just would… How do you bring that to the showroom? And I grew up in a family business, so, you know, family retail business, so it was something that I definitely had a strong connection to and was really exciting.

And, you know, we always thought that that was gonna be that shot of adrenaline to get it going, and we just really started with a great path of innovation. And our theme during that Star Wars promotion was the Force of Innovation. Over the last few years, we’ve continued to drive momentum across all of our product lines. We launched our 715 dishwasher. We then came with our multi-door refrigerator. We’re now relaunching Profile Laundry, and so I think we put ourselves in a very good position with our strategy which then, I think, caught some nice tailwinds during COVID when people were then really starting to invest in their homes.

Rob Stott: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Todd Getz: And so, you know it’s that old adage of, “The harder you work, the luckier you get,” right? And I think by doing the right things for the business and it’s really helped us, but now continuing to really drive even more and more innovation. And I think what’s really rewarding on Profile is to see the progress and the growth across all of our product lines.

Rob Stott: Yeah. Well, first of all, scary to think the Rise of Skywalker was already that… far… That long ago. Seems like it was yesterday.

Todd Getz: I know.

Rob Stott: But, that- that’s a… different story. But, no, I mean, hey, some of the things that you can learn is- is you know, you take that opportunity, you kind hindsight 20/20, but, you know, take that opportunity to either pause and reset, or use it as validation. And that awesome to hear that that’s kind of what you guys were able to go forward with that. But, I wanna leave you with one last question, ’cause it’s always a fun one. What are you doing right now that excites you? That gets Todd jazzed up to get up in the morning and go to work for the GE brands?

Todd Getz: You know, I just think all the great new products and the exciting technology that we have, right? It’s really exciting to have news that you’re really excited about, that you’re really proud about, and as I mentioned before, we’re relaunching our Profile Laundry line. We’re bringing Microban and the Antimicrobial that did really well in our GE UltraFresh line in the Profile on our top loads. We’re bringing Alexa voice enabled capability into our 900 line. We’re bringing top load, we’re bringing front load. We’re now, as I mentioned, bringing Air Fry into all of our OTRs which is really exciting.

I mentioned all the downloads. And then we’re launching a new Microban dishwasher to continue on the success on our dish lines, and then, you know, refrigeration continuing to expand. What’s really exciting is it’s one thing to lay out a strategy and a plan, but to see it come to life and then have all the news, it’s just really exciting and gets you excited to go tell people about it and share how our product teams do an incredible of job of designing products.

That’s where I feel a really big obligation, to tell people about it and how we can create the excitement and that’s kind of, you know I guess what marketing is, right? (laughing) It’s funny now we started, like, on my whole career, I think there’s just a mindset of, “Have I picked the right career?” ‘Cause, you know, I just get excited about anything that I’m working on.

Rob Stott: That’s awesome.

Todd Getz: And if you’re not excited about it, if I don’t care about it, I don’t know that anyone else will. And so, whether that’s probably some ways in my mind intentional, or unintentional, but it’s a good mindset, and it’s been really, really fun.

Rob Stott: Well it is awesome to see that passion play out and- and not only just sort of what you do personally but also across the brands as well, and get that messaging out there and, see the retailers pick up on it and then put it to use themselves.

Todd Getz: Yeah.

Rob Stott: So, I… You know, it sounds like you guys will have a lot to talk about in Orlando here in a couple of weeks, too, so that’s exciting to- to be able to, you know, hear about it now but then see it in- in a few weeks a- as we get down to PrimeTime.

Todd Getz: It’ll be fun and it’s all… You know, I really always like PrimeTime, because it’s always fun to get out and, and just hear about it, right? You can’t just sit and evolve and work on stuff. You know, you really have to get out and hear what our customers are saying, what we can do to be better, how we can better serve them, how we can better help them, because, you know, they’re, you know, they’re independent and family businesses. And like I said, that’s what I grew up in, so I have a real appreciation for it. It’s something that’s very passionate to them and I think we have to respect that, and I think that’s kind of what’s always driven us to be there for the independents.

Rob Stott: Oh, that’s awesome to hear, and cool that you get to kinda, you know, tie that back into your upbringing. So certainly, a lot of fun for us to be there. A lot of fun for you, I’m sure, as well. So, we’ll see you in just a few weeks down in Orlando.

Todd Getz: I’ll be there.

Rob Stott: Safe travels everywhere else you’re going we’ll catch up again soon.

Todd Getz: Thank you. I appreciate it.

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