Rival vendor reaction to Hoover’s controversial new cleaning-effectiveness standard ranges from outrage to cautions optimism.
The standard, which was introduced two weeks ago by Hoover, compares cleaning effectiveness to amperage used. (HFD, March 15, 1993, March 22, 1993).
“If it works it will be a brilliant move, but if it backfires Hoover’s tail will be on fire,” said one competitor. “The major concern here is that it is even more misleading for the consumer than amperage. This could cause the Federal government to become involved.”
“Hoover’s been getting their ears boxed,” another source said. “They don’t know what to do about it so they’re throwing this at the industry.”
Leo Cadelo, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Eureka Co., is taking are more cautious, but optimistic attitude than the rest of the industry.
“To start with, we’re going to take a very middle-of-the-road approach to this thing,” Cadelo said. “We feel very comfortable competing on any grounds or by any standards the industry wants. Our feelings is that we make the best cleaner and we’ll compete head-to-head.”
“We basically know what Hoover is trying to do and it is commendable,” Cadelo continued. “But we’re also apprehensive. There is a possibility for future confusion on the consumer end.”
Cadelo said Eureka’s stance is that they will “see how it plays” before making any final determination on the cleaning effectiveness/amp standard.
Other competitors are very cognizant that the new system slightly higher than 12–the highest possible amp rating for any vacuum cleaner according to national electric codes. With the new cleaning effectiveness/amp rating, numbers of 15.5 are very easily obtainable.
For their part, retailers are supportive of Hoover’s moves, one even conceding the new number might cause a initial confusion with consumers but it is “a much more meaningful number than amps alone.”
But some competitors are not buying it.
“If you ask me they are being hypocritical,” said a competitor. “First they put down amps, then they turn their cleaning effectiveness into an amp rating.”
“We use amperage solely as a means of helping the consumer understand the step up between pricepoints in our product line,” the competitor said. “It’s easier to trade a consumer up on power than it is on a cord that is 10 feet longer.”
“This could be a move where Hoover might later approach the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and ask them to intercede to solve the problem of ratings for the industry,” the competitor added. “Believe me, if that’s the case, the government’s solution will be painful for the entire industry.”
The issue might not make it that far if Eureka–which seems to be on the fence on the issue–decides to join Hoover.
“If they agree on the standard, the amount of market share they control would force the issue,” one source noted.