China-based Homa Appliances is one of the world’s fastest growing cooling manufacturers, and the largest OEM/ODM refrigerator exporter on the planet. Studio Volpi has been supporting Homa’s communication throughout its amazing transformation and growth. In this long, in-depth interview, CEO Michael Yao and Federico Rebaudo, General Manager (Europe Rep. office), share some of the secrets behind Homa’s extraordinary success and tell about their relationship with the Studio.
How important is it for Homa to be perceived as a partner and not as a supplier?
And what makes it possible for clients to see you as partners?
Michael Yao - Since the incorporation of the Company, in 2002, it was clear that partnerships and relationships would be among the strategic pillars of our venture.
We primarily create and deliver value. Homa’s focus is the B2B business, our audience is made up of professionals; it is imperative to build lasting partnerships, I would even say bonds, not merely based on transactions and price. What defines us best is our ability to leave a mark in our relationships!
Why did Homa chose an Italian agency to support its communication with partners?
Federico Rebaudo - We are a Chinese company. We are firmly rooted in our territory, but generate over 80% of our turnover on global markets thanks to an extensive and diversified portfolio of clients who trust us. We are a truly global player. In our factories we have the best machinery coming from Japan, Germany, Italy, and, of course, China.
Our international vocation is evident so we must communicate with a universal language. When we had to choose a partner to accompany us in international communication, it seemed natural to look for the best, right-sized partner with a similarity of views: a unique mix of pioneering, competence and passion for execution. We have now a reliable and capable mix—the strength of blending different cultures, with talented people.
You are an OEM specialist, but you attach great importance to communication, why?
Federico Rebaudo - Our strategy is to strengthen our position and remain the reference point in the global OEM cooling appliances industry. "Only and always OEM" is our guiding principle, but we must extend the scope of our offer into services: we cannot simply produce the right products with state-of-the-art technology at a competitive price any more.
We are continuously focussing on how to inspire our customers in choosing Homa and embark on a shared journey, on fostering dialogue, inviting for value-based cooperation and creating new opportunities together. We accompany our customers in many respects, from product selection to efficient after sales processes. For example, we have done an excellent job with the Studio Volpi team to create simpler, straightforward instruction manuals that are also more attractive. Another example is the fantastic project that allowed us to offer a range of differentiated and differentiating contents to communicate the "end-user benefits" of our products.
Why is a tool like Video so important to you? Why was the video format chosen?
Federico Rebaudo - Although our objective is not to produce advertising, we needed to feed our ability to generate relationships. Indeed using video is the most consistent way to communicate universally. In our briefs, we challenge you to avoid offering us boring institutional videos, and for this reason, we insist on pushing you to blur boundaries and introduce emotions.
We do not want to communicate in a pompous way, we seek elegance. We are not interested in the audience remembering figures. Back in our schooldays, it wasn’t the specific date of a particular event that mattered, but what that event triggered. This is the only way to be memorable.
The ability to synthesise complex concepts in a few minutes thanks to your screenwriters' craftsmanship, together with the technical skills of your experienced directors, have allowed us to capture attention and create meaningful contents. Colours, backgrounds and music are great allies when speaking to a culturally mixed audience. We have a strong and powerful purpose, and we are sure that consistency is effective to the extent that it greatly amplifies Homa’s distinctiveness.
How strategic are the projects developed with Studio Volpi?
Michael Yao - With Studio Volpi we are working as a team. We are encapsulating, sometimes anticipating, the cultural spirit that defines our era. We are not a brand. We have limited budgets compared to our competitors who have taken the B2C path, creating new brands, acquiring or even promoting their original domestic brand abroad.
Our objective is to make meaningful choices which are consistent with our communication objectives and that promote our philosophy. Having a strong sense of direction is essential to create a consistent approach. We have a clear vision about continuing to be the reference point, the Supplier of Choice in the cooling industry.
Homa competes in an industry undergoing a tremendous technological acceleration. How important is innovation to you?
Michael Yao - Nowadays the word innovation is a bit overused, but I am very proud of one thing: we innovate every day. We must be able to be fast, adapt, and be efficient in small and big challenges.
Innovation at Homa means facing new challenges. We treasure the knowledge we acquired and we apply it to finding solutions. If there were no problems, we would not have the necessary stimuli to apply and structure this knowledge in a different way.
Take, for example, the project that our R&D team has been developing with your engineering department for about 24 months. We share a different expertise, and exploit competencies of external laboratories and multidisciplinary experts. The support of these different specialists in insulation and advanced fluid dynamics, boosted the development and fine-tuning of solutions that cost-effectively reduce energy consumption. From labs to factories, we are now implementing our No Frost refrigerators, offering true state-of-the-art technology.
For this reason, our primary investment, beyond building the best possible industrial footprint, is concentrated on looking for young, new talents and providing extensive training to flood our departments with skills, perpetuating an enduring corporate culture.
Gianmario Volpi, founder of the Studio, also shares his view on this special relationship: “I can say that the multicultural, multidisciplinary environment of Studio Volpi was instrumental in aligning emotionally and strategically with our client. One of the main insights I learned from working with Chinese partners is the need for flexibility, as the mindset and the cultural approach to business is changing at a forced speed. In fact our whole societies are fast moving from the old paradigm of competitiveness to a culture of happiness, sharing and partnering. We are witnessing a massive culture shift, and open-source projects based on trust and strong partnerships will soon become the norm in new business models, as opposed to compromise and win-win strategies.”
Read the case to discover the details of the project.