Hugo Smeenk – Miele

Hugo Smeenk – Miele

Hugo Smeenk is Head of Brand & Digital Marketing at Miele Nederland. Miele is a German manufacturer of high-end domestic and professional appliances like washing machines, kitchen appliances and vacuum cleaners, headquartered in Gütersloh, Germany. Hugo is responsible for the marketing communication strategy and implementation towards the end consumer in the Netherlands. Within Miele Nederland, data plays an important role in optimising the brand’s marketing activities.

Main KPIs for growth

When it comes to brand growth, Miele Nederland’s main KPIs revolve around the brand funnel. Hugo: “From awareness to being the first choice. Miele is a very well-known brand in the Netherlands, so our brand awareness scores across all categories is very high, which is something we are very proud of. Our former brand pay off ‘Er is geen betere’ (there is no better option) has become part of the collective memory of Dutch people, and is something that we will always be resonated with. For us, the challenge nowadays lies in the lower part of the brand funnel. The piece in the funnel from consideration to the first choice, in particular, is very important for us. In order to track if we’re doing the right things to increase conversion from consideration to first choice, we have a brand health tracker where we gain a lot of continuous insights into our brand health.”

Optimising customer experience & marketing efficiency

“With regard to data in general, we focus on two things: optimising the customer experience and optimising efficiency”, Hugo continues. “We collect and use data to try to maximise the effect of every Euro we spend on marketing. Whilst on the other hand we want to make sure customers experience our brand as relevant and of added value to their lives. Through pre-testing, we want to uncover what kind of impact certain campaigns or creatives will have on brand level, and test the added value of the campaigns or creatives on the emotional connection customers have towards our brand. We study whether the different marketing activities contribute to that emotional connection. That is an important element within tracking brand growth.”

“We want to create a brand experience beyond the ordinary for our consumers, and we use data to understand how to create a better experience and evaluate whether we are doing the right things to increase the experience.”

Hugo comments how focusing on the emotional connection is quite the change from Miele’s traditional way of advertising, which focuses more on the technical elements of their products: “We are a German company, and we have been around for more than 120 years. Especially among the younger target audience, who tend to see us a somewhat dull greyish German brand that is not for them, we try to incite that emotional bond in order to boost brand preference. Our big introduction campaigns are made in German and mainly focus on the technical side of the products. As we don’t have the budget to set up those big campaigns locally, we are limited to what we can make ourselves. We try to influence the international marketing team by providing data-based examples and findings on how that emotional connection can really impact our brand. Examples are the award winning  Miele PowerWash at Lowlands festival and our cooperation with ‘Man man man, de podcast’.”


“Data-driven -wise, we are still at the start of the journey”, Hugo states. “Gut-feel will always be  important within Miele. We are a family business, and very entrepreneurial. If there is a good idea and the brand fit is there, we will go for it, even if there isn’t enough data yet. If we can’t use data or test beforehand, we always make sure to test afterwards. How can we use those learnings in the next campaign? ‘Man man man, de podcast’ is a good example where we didn’t have a lot of data at hand when we started the cooperation, but we did manage to analyse it afterwards, even when there wasn’t really a benchmark available. If you can pre-test, definitely do so, if not, make sure you post-test to see what the impact has been on your most important objectives. Knowing whether the money was well spent is very important to us, as we don’t have massive budgets. You need to know whether that euro paid off and if it was effective. We always strive to improve the customer experience and optimise our own efficiency, those two need to be balanced. We aren’t a massive company, we have around 300 people in total in the Netherlands, so we don’t have an entire data lake or data department. We know how important data is, but it can also be very fragmented in different tools and programmes. We are working on connecting those different data streams to be more effective in our marketing. We still have a lot of ground to cover, and even some quick-wins to make, but we are taking those steps.”

Miele X

The company recently opened Miele X in Amsterdam, an international hub of digital marketing and sales. Hugo: “Miele X is a very exciting development where we can take data, analyses, and behaviour to the next level. Within Miele Netherlands we work closely together with Miele X, as they are also responsible for the international strategy on social media, creatives, digital, but also making sure those data structures are in place. They are an accelerator in the digital space and data is an important part of that.” As many of Miele’s products are sold through retailers, this can lead to a data gap, Hugo comments: “We try to fill that space of marketing insights. We recently started with the integration of a ‘where to buy’ solution in our campaigns to track traffic further down the funnel – even providing insight in online retailer sales. Those are very interesting insights, also ensuring the link between sales and marketing. Within all our channels we want to create an optimal brand experience for our consumers, data plays an important role in achieving that goal.”

‘Immer besser’

A brand asset that is inextricably linked to Miele is their promise to be ‘immer besser’ (better and better). Hugo: “It is part of our DNA, originally conceived from the construction of the machines, every part of what we do revolves around quality. Every nut and bolt is checked for quality, tested, and each time we think that it can’t get any better, we will still work on improving it. We try to get that mindset more and more into the marketing business as well. We use data to take small steps to improve each campaign, instead of closing the book each time a flight ends. We evaluate the data and collect what worked and what didn’t and how can we do a better job in the next campaign. Improving day by day, data is a key part of that.”