Anton Kryukov, iRobot Ukraine: “We are not Apple, we have models for any wallet”

Despite the symbolic “i” in the name of the manufacturer of robotic vacuum cleaners and other

no iRobot automated home cleanersnothing to do with Apple. Although in its segment it is a kind of icon - top solutions in the present, military and space technologies in DNA, 15% of the entire world market of vacuum cleaners and the most expensive model of a robot vacuum cleaner in the portfolio.

Recently, the official distributor of iRobot in Ukraine has seriously taken up the Ukrainian market. Editors gg seized the opportunity and talked to the directoron the development of iRobot in Ukraine by Anton Kryukov about what the market of robotic vacuum cleaners is, what can Ukrainians expect from the brand and what is iRobot’s confidence in technological superiority in the market.

Ukrainian market of robotic vacuum cleaners: Xiaomi is the most massive, iRobot is the most expensive of all bought

gg: How do you rate the Ukrainian market of robotic vacuum cleaners? Has anyone already “considered” him?

Anton Kryukov: Like most manufacturers, weWe focus on GfK data. Unfortunately, they do not account for about 20% -25% of the market, these are sales of small dealers who do not submit sales results to Gfk, and an unofficial “gray” market. But this is enough to track trends. This year we expect at least 30,000 devices. In 2018, there were around 20,000 units, that is, the market is growing, and at a good pace.

gg: When did the growth begin?

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Anton Kryukov: A year ago, sales went up. At the beginning of 2018, 500-600 units were sold per month, at the end of the year - 2500-3000. Demand then grew, then fell, this is due to the quantity of goods in the country and promotional activities. Plus, robots have the same seasonality as for other electronics. High season - November-December, inertial sales - January and February, March 8, then sales begin to fall and again come to life by autumn. It is during these periods that price promotions work especially well. The most interesting thing is that in March of this year, for some reason, sales of hand-held vacuum cleaners, rather than robots, increased. Probably, Ukrainians still trust their woman more than algorithms. Although the average price of Hand-stick vacuum cleaners is comparable to robots (but not to iRobot).

We are working exclusively throughonline feed. There is a reason for this. The fact is that for networks, investing in a new brand is a risk, so we do not even offer them to put the goods on the shelf. It is very difficult for them to forecast sales of new categories of goods. Cleaning robots are not smartphones, where the market has fixed at around 6 million devices per year, and players understand what proportion of this pie they can get. Here it’s different. The category is new, so the quantity for purchase is not entirely clear. Terms of turnover, product quality - these are significant unknowns for retail. Here is an example: you deliver goods to the national network in the amount of UAH 0.5 million. If the network cannot sell it within three months, it begins to lower the price, that is, it arranges a sale. This leads to lower earnings of other partners, as they do the same in the competition. Earnings on your product tends to 0, or even to a minus. Partners together return most of the investment and never work with your product again. The story is sad, but there are so many examples of how this happened with other brands. But I will not list them.

Different brands in Ukraine have 2-4 models available, and we have 12. No brand of robotic vacuum cleaners boasts such a model range.

iRobot focuses exclusively oncleaning robots, so it’s easier for us to navigate the market. Different brands in Ukraine have 2-4 models available, and we have 12. No brand of robotic vacuum cleaners boasts such a model range.

Our company is now engaged in the formation ofDemand - reviews, articles, interviews. As soon as the networks see analytics for our brand, they will be able to plan money for the purchase of the product, and we will be able to work with them. As soon as we appear on the shelves, you will see our demonstration zones.

Now a very good environment for such a development. The market begins to grow, people are interested, iRobot has a very good history of work in other countries and positive feedback from Ukrainian customers.

gg: What is the market share of iRobot in Ukraine?

Anton Kryukov: According to our data, the share fluctuates within10% -15%. But we are just starting to go online, so we only appear in the Gfk report. We have already started working with Foxtrot, Rosette, Citrus, but for our goods, anyway, we mostly go to partners who focus on trading robotic cleaners. Our partners in Ukraine are highly targeted companies like: YouTech, Robotech. These partners have several sites, but they all sell specialized robots. Unfortunately, sales of such partners do not fall into the Gfk report.

The mass market has not yet rocked. Go to our dealers, in the case when this is a deliberate purchase, models sold for less than $ 600 are worse. But if we take large partners as “Rosette” for example, then our most budget models are sold there, then as an audience of “Rosettes” it is wider, respectively, the average consumer income level will be lower.

gg: What is the average price of a robot vacuum cleaner in Ukraine and you?

Anton Kryukov: About $ 250. But we are twice as high. Take-off at iRobot price from 7 thousand to 40 thousand UAH

gg: Which of the competitors are monitoring?

Anton Kryukov: Xiaomi, Ecovacs, Samsung, Philips.

Room map vs quality of cleaning

gg: Which models sell best?

Anton Kryukov: Models in the price category from 6000 UAH. But this is if you take the average market. And speaking of the brand iRobot then the bar is from 14,000 UAH. More expensive robots are more technological. And as I said, our client consciously makes a decision and chooses a robot for several years. On average, iRobot robots live more than 5 years with regular maintenance. The thing is expensive and good, because people cherish it.

gg: To what extent are Ukrainians in brand-oriented vacuum cleaners? How are you enjoying iRobot brand knowledge?

Anton Kryukov: According to our research, brand knowledge is on the 3rdlocation. On the second, Samsung and Philips, they are put in one place. The first is Xiaomi. They have approximately 60% of the market. This is a strong brand, we recognize it. Ukrainians are very focused on brands in robotic vacuum cleaners. At one of our focus groups, the phrase sounded: "We know iRobot, but they have very little advertising, so we will not buy." It turns out that you need advertising so that you buy a good product? Otherwise, will you buy a bad one?

At one time, after a wave of first cheap purchasesChinese robots began to refuse them. The quality of the cleaning is disgusting. But the situation has changed, this always happens, in any markets of electronics and technology, there are already a lot of branded robots and they really clean. But iRobot cleans best of all - this is an indisputable fact, since everyone else lags behind in technology for a couple of generations. Now they are buying a robot vacuum cleaner, because it is a real vacuum cleaner, and they carefully look at the brand.

At one time, after a wave of purchases of the first cheap Chinese robots, they began to refuse them. The quality of the cleaning is disgusting. Now they are buying a robot vacuum cleaner, because it's a real vacuum cleaner

gg: For what “chips" in the robot are Ukrainians willing to pay extra, what are they dreaming of?

Anton Kryukov: About the sink. They want to vacuum and wash. But as practice shows, those who bought such a device do not use a sink. In addition, specifically in this case, there is a substitution of concepts. Such a robot has a rag and water. Can it already be called a sink? Actually not, this is a rub, which collects what did not get into the vacuum cleaner. Washing is a purposeful action that cleans dirt. IRobot Braava Jet 240 (this is the cheapest floor polisher in the iRobot line, costs 5999 UAH, see video below) sprays water in front of you like a spray, rides along the Christmas tree principle and rubs. The wiping head vibrates and wipes well. If you poured wine in the evening, you can launch this robot the next day and it will wipe everything off, by the way it should not be gender! You can run it on the table, it is smart, it does not fall.

Combined models that are now onmarket, they can wipe with a wet rag in the hallway and go to the carpet with the same dirt. Only now are devices that do not call on the carpet. How effective is it? Time will tell.

We are soon selling a robot washer,who knows how not to go on carpets and works in tandem with other models. That is, when starting the vacuum cleaner, the owner will be asked to clean the floor, and when the vacuum cleaner is finished, the washer will turn on and carry out wet cleaning. This will keep the apartment clean and fresh always. The model is called - Braava Jet M6. Perhaps at the time of publication of the interview he will already be on sale. That is, very soon.

gg: Besides washing, what else? Maybe a room map?

Anton Kryukov: A consumer who has an apartment of 45 square meters does not need a card. Let's see what the map is for.

First of all, a robot needs a card, not a person. It is needed in order to find a way to the base for recharging in an apartment or house with an area of ​​more than 80 m2 and, if necessary, continue cleaning from the same place. The person will be comfortable with the map in that you can direct the robot to a specific room. Suppose, in the living room, watch football with friends, send it to the nursery to clean, it works, but it does not bother you. This is a major advantage for people. Another advantage of the card is that on it you can see where the robot has already cleaned and whether it had problems with this. More polluted places. Also, in some models on the map, you can configure zones where the robot is not allowed to enter. These are the main advantages of cards. The presence of a card does not affect the quality of cleaning.

For lack of quality, manufacturers are startingadd extra chips, the so-called "imposed values". For example, the ability to see in real time where the robot is located. Well, let's say this is interesting. But if after cleaning half of the garbage where it was lying there is there, was it worth paying for such a technology? Or if the robot cleaned in the kitchen, in the living room, but for some reason did not go to the nursery. I got up to charge and did not continue to work, what's the point of the card?

Many are interested in controlling from a smartphone. This is really convenient, but there may be nuances. Not all Chinese robotic vacuum cleaners can exchange data through a cloud service, as is the case with iRobot. And what's the point if I can not start cleaning remotely? If I’m in the same Wi-Fi network, then it’s easier for me to press a button.

About the adequacy of connecting to a smartphone, through special applications, I generally am silent. Unlike competitors, the iRobot HOME application is synchronized without difficulty, by pressing a couple of buttons.

gg: What are the most popular iRobot models in Ukraine?

Anton Kryukov: Roomba 980 (Roomba R980, revision note). Since 2016, he has been a sales leader and received the largest number of awards around the world. Now i7 and i7 + models with automatic container cleaning technology have replaced. But iRobot did not stop there. i7 is the transition model from R980 to S9.

S9 is the world's most expensive robot vacuum cleaner onthis moment. In Ukraine, there is no model yet, but it will cost about 40,000 UAH. It has functions that are not found in any other model. For example, adjusting the suction power.

gg: Why else?

Anton Kryukov: Need more thorough cleaning - turn on the maximum power. But constantly working at maximum does not make sense - this is development. It is enough to do this once a month.

Also on this model, brushes are 30% longer thanall robots in the lineup. Improved side brush for sweeping. Her shape has changed and the number of blades has increased, the speed of rotation has increased. This model is the best in the world to clean from the corners along the walls and baseboards. From the first approach, it cleans 95% of the sand from the carpet (according to the test results).

Typical story for Ukraine: bought by accident, but very happy

gg: Are there differences between Ukrainian and Western consumers?

Anton Kryukov: In the West, consumers are more conscious. Unfortunately, so far in Ukraine there is a small number of conscious buyers. We have customers who bought the robot by accident, tipsy, for example. But they are already serviced more than 5-7 in our service, very happy with their spontaneous purchase. In the West, they buy because they want a robot vacuum cleaner. And they definitely know which robot they need, they are looking for quality. This is probably why iRobot has such a high share in the world.

gg: Why do you think Ukrainian customers choose you?

Anton Kryukov: Because we are not a Chinese brand, but an American. Assembly in China, like everyone else, but the development is completely in the USA. Many of our customers have bought a robot in the USA for a long time, and now they are updating it with us, servicing it, or buying a new model here.

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Best selling iRobot - Roomba R980

Many people buy according to the principle - the same as with friends. If a friend has iRobot, then I do not look at other brands.

gg: What is the main obstacle to the development of the Ukrainian market?

Anton Kryukov: Low awareness. But she is being treated. Each of the vendors in Ukraine will do something to promote their products. Accordingly, people will learn more about robots. Different brands began to focus on the Ukrainian market. The same iRobot. We are trying to increase the amount of information about robotic vacuum cleaners and on our own. In addition, the solvency of the population. If the standard of living in Ukraine grows, no one will deny himself the automation of domestic processes. And until there is not enough money to pay for gas, people mop the floors.

gg: ... and buy an iPhone on credit?

Anton Kryukov: Speaking of loans. After our product appeared in national retail, it became more accessible to customers. “Citrus”, “Rosette”, “Foxtrot” provide installments and loans for iRobot. Our partners have done something similar before. But in large quantities, as the national retail is able to do, no one did.

When we made the first shipment to the “Rosette”, 10units of goods, the car just drove off, the first robot was already sold. The next day, two more. These were inexpensive models up to 10 000 UAH and top models for 30 000 UAH. In just three days, five robots were sold. And this is without any premium content, reviews, beautiful descriptions. This suggests that people know iRobot and trust this brand.

gg: When will robotic vacuum cleaners become mass in Ukraine? Will it work out in 3-5 years?

Anton Kryukov: Perhaps, but I'm not sure, for two reasons: conservatism and solvency. People have their own: habits, cleaning and summer cottage, etc. They used to do their own dishwashing, sweeping and washing floors. Robots for Ukrainians are more like a dishwasher. Not everyone is sure that it is needed, and only those who have it can appreciate its advantages or disadvantages.

iRobot for experienced and beginners

gg: Faced with cases of undocumented use?

Anton Kryukov: There were several requests from customers, they say, onlybought, used a week - the brushes are erased. It turned out that a man cleaned construction debris with a robot! The robot is not intended for this. Building rubble for brushes like sandpaper. And also the filter clogs very quickly and dubs, air stops passing through it and the engine crashes.

gg: What about flashing and all that?

Anton Kryukov: For such purposes, iRobot produces basic units withthe ability to program them yourself. Our colleagues in Latvia hold competitions annually - the battle of robots. They put several iRobot models in the ring and they fight on the principle of sumo. Who pushes - he won. There are even grant stories, robots give polytechnics, students take them apart, program them. iRobot are very geeky devices.

A video demonstrating the competition of sumo robots at the 2016 Robotex festival

gg: By the way, newcomers do not confuse you with Apple? The name is characteristic ...

Anton Kryukov: Oddly enough, many people in focus groupscompared us to Apple. Phrases sounded that iRobot belongs to Apple. Of course this is not so. This is evident even in pricing policy. We are not expensive, like Apple, we have devices for any wallet. There are robots from 6000 UAH to 40 000 UAH. If you want to buy something like Apple, buy the most expensive model. It will be the perfect helper. But as I said, do not overpay for those technologies that you do not need. Try to determine for yourself what specific properties of the robot are necessary for your apartment.

gg: Why, in your opinion, should Ukrainians pay for your brand?

Anton Kryukov:When buying iRobot, you are not just buying the device, you are buying 25 years of robotics experience, crazy amount of patents and exclusive technologies, high-quality cleaning, simple and convenient application interface iRobot HOME, two years warranty, high-quality and fast service in Ukraine, the ability to buy supplies directly from the application for controlling the robot.

gg: What about gray imports in Ukraine?

Anton Kryukov: Unfortunately, there are gray imports. And for the buyer it is very bad. Firstly, the manufacturer does not cover the warranty for devices that were not shipped to Ukraine; accordingly, we cannot provide repair of such devices. Secondly, 90% of gray imports are robots from US sales. And they break 5-10 times more often than robots for Europe and Ukraine. In the USA, the standard voltage in the mains is 110 volts. Plus another plug for which you need an adapter.

The robot is set to 110 volts,the components are rated at 110 volts, the power controller is set to 110 volts. Why am I repeating all this? To make it clear that 110 volts is not 220 volts. And there is nothing surprising in the fact that a large percentage of American robots fail during the first year of operation, and there is no guarantee for them. Our service center does not accept such robots for repair.

The most expensive robot vacuum cleaner in the world iRobot Roomba S9

For example, if you buy Roomba i7 + for 20%cheaper, the base may not work for him. It has overvoltage protection. The robot will run on battery power, but the base components are rated at 110 volts. We had a lot of requests about this. Does it make sense to save a few thousand, to buy a robot not for 20 thousand UAH, but for 16 thousand UAH and to grieve that it broke in the first year of work? There is no guarantee, there is no service, the money flew into the pipe. But the decision is made by the buyer. We can only recommend.

gg: Are gray models being transported only from the USA?

Anton Kryukov: It makes no sense to bring from Poland. When we form the pricing, we try to keep prices at the European level, underestimate our earnings in order to fight smuggling from the EU, but we, unfortunately, cannot compete. There are a lot of one-day companies. They brought one batch, sold it and look for the wind in the field.

90% of gray imports are robots from US sales. And they break 5-10 times more often than robots for Europe and Ukraine

gg: What functions can appear in robots in the foreseeable future?

Anton Kryukov: Identification of objects. This is necessary for the robot to understand, for example, if a child or a dog is sitting somewhere, then now it is impossible to clean it, but you will need to return. It is also possible that in the future robots will be equipped with a basket in which they can throw objects from the floor. It would be amazing.

gg: What advice can you give to the person who decided to buy his first robot vacuum cleaner?

Anton Kryukov: To get started, evaluate the need for featuresrobot and decide on expectations. How much to clean? 50 sq. M. or 200 square meters? Is it necessary to clean the carpet from wool or not? To clean the carpet from wool in an apartment of 45 square meters, you do not need to buy a robot vacuum cleaner more than 15 thousand UAH. If you want to control the robot from a smartphone, then initially you need a model with Wi-Fi.

If Wi-Fi is not important, and the apartment is 45-50 m2, in our line there is a Roomba 605 robot at a price of up to 8 thousand UAH. Why overpay?

If the area of ​​the room is more than 80 m2, respectively, you will need a robot with very good navigation, and this is already technology iAdapt 2 and iAdapt 3.

Do not want to clean the container - choose a model,who knows how to do it herself. If you need deeper cleaning, you need to choose from the 980th series, this is the most popular robot vacuum cleaner until the advent of S9 and i7. Is there anyone with long hair in the apartment? If yes, you need to take a model with a brush with rollers. If not, cheaper with a shag brush.

In general, as I said, we have robots for any wallet.