GE executive says Americans are 'more stressed out than ever'

American consumers’ stress levels are at an all-time high, according to surveys by GE Appliances.

“The average consumer is more stressed out than ever,” Rick Hasselbeck, the CEO of GE Appliances, told Business Insider. “Their well being is not where it should be physically, emotionally, socially, and financially. … People are struggling.”

He said consumers are increasingly time-starved and they are facing rising health care and technology costs, among other pressures, and “they need things that make their lives simpler.”

GE is hoping to address that need, in part, with its line of appliances.

“We think we can play a meaningful role in helping improve their well being,” Hasselbeck said.

To do that, the company is launching a massive marketing campaign with the new tagline “good things, for life.”

Starting Sunday, GE will advertise the tagline and appliances on TV ads nationally during primetime spots, including the Billboard Music Awards, “The Bachelorette” season premiere, “The Voice” season finale, the “Dancing With the Stars” season finale, and other popular shows.

The ads feature GE’s so-called “connected” appliances — like ovens that can be operated through voice-automated systems like Amazon’s Alexa — and appliances that combine duties, such as refrigerators with Kuerig coffee makers built into their doors.

Hasselbeck says connected homes are the future of the appliance industry.

“The connected space is something that [millennials] just demand…  so if you’re not in that space then you are going to be missing out,” he said. 

The company has been watching the growth of meal prep services like Blue Apron, and working on ways to make cooking easier for consumers through devices that are programmed to apply the right amount of heat and cooking technique for various pre-programmed recipes. 

The company is also focusing on providing customers better service through connected devices. The company will get an alert if the hot water on a customer’s dishwasher isn’t functioning correctly, for example, so they can spot problems before customers do.

GE is investing heavily in this new marketing campaign against a backdrop of turmoil in the retail industry, as some of the biggest historical sellers of appliances like Sears and hhGregg shut down hundreds of stores, and newer players, like Amazon and JCPenney, move into the space. 

Hasselbeck said brick-and-mortar stores are vital to appliance sales. Only 10% to 15% of appliance sales are made online today, and 98% of those online purchases were made after visiting a store to see the appliance in person, he said.

“The industry is going through change and it’s going to continue to change at a faster rate,” he said. “The retailers that are going to win are the ones that are closest to the real boss — which is the consumer  — and can understand them best.”

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