Carolyn Verweyst

By Lisa Hartratkin Energy efficiency, larger capacity and more fabric care cycles have become a key feature pack for selling traditional washers, as well as for the horizontal axis machines now arriving on the market. Pretty much the standard in Europe, h-axis represents the first major change in North American laundry products in decades. Led by Maytag's Neptune introduction over a year ago, U.S. major appliance makers are coming out with their own models. With one exception--from Staber--they're all front-loading. Realistically, American consumers are not exactly energy-obsessed. "The most important thing to consumers is performance," said Maytag Laundry Product Planner Frank Nekic. "They want to keep whites white,

By Jamie Latshaw What was hot in '98 in major appliance stores? Product innovation and a little help from Mother Nature made 1998 a very good year. The weather was a considerable factor, putting retailers in position for a stable year as the sale of air conditioners rose from 1997, with a cool, low-humidity summer and not many a/c sales. In addition, a number of product trends took hold this year and likely will keep the market going into 1999. Healthy Water Hype Water filtration systems in side-by-side refrigerators saw a big push. Maytag's lines, specifically the Jenn-Air Twin Fresh side-by-sides, promote its "fresh ideas" in refrigeration and water filtration. GE Appliances

By Jamie Latshaw The '80s had its Lexus. The '90s has its Neptune. Major appliances have become the style statements of the '90s. Who would have thought horizontal-axis washers would become cocktail conversation pieces? In this new aesthetic, avocado green and harvest gold appliances are long gone. Stainless and rich enamel red, green, blue and "biscuit" appliances are in. But consumers are demanding more than just pretty boxes. Time- and energy-saving performance features and quiet operation have become the new selling points. This trend extends up and down the financial scale. The look that was once unattainable on a limited budget has "grown beyond what appliance manufacturers thought

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