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Flexibility at its Best: Bosch India Presents the First Convertible Refrigerator Compartment

Flexibility at its Best: Bosch India Presents the First Convertible Refrigerator Compartment

The new MaxFlex refrigerator from Bosch is a dream come true for every Indian family. Its revolutionary third compartment offers true flexibility, converting to fridge or freezer on demand. Industrial Designer Kunal Shah and Brand Marketing Specialist Rahul Bhambri talk about the BSH innovation in the following interview:

 
Kunal, you were responsible for analyzing the needs of our Indian consumers to develop this customized refrigerator innovation. What are the specific local needs that made you think of a convertible third cooling compartment? 

Kunal: India is a huge country with very diverse states. Each one of them has its own local culture, which changes with the seasons. These cultural nuances directly influence local food consumption. Many seasonal fruits and vegetables are available only for two or three months, like Mangos, for example. Consumers cook them from April to July and consume them throughout the year. Furthermore, there are many cultural festivities and feasts in India, for which consumers purchase lots of food at a time. Thus, they need not just larger but also more flexible spaces in their refrigerators. The traditional ratio of fridge and freezer does often not meet these requirements. That’s how the idea for a convertible cooling compartment was born.  

“The moment I heard of the idea, I felt that it was the best answer to fulfill our consumers’ needs. MaxFlex gives them an “always on” fridge and freezer space AND a flexible compartment, which can be converted on demand”, underlines Marketing Specialist Rahul Bhambri.

You just launched the Bosch refrigerator range with the new convertible compartment at the end of April. How do Indian consumers like the innovation, so far?

Rahul: Like you said, it’s only been a couple of weeks since the product launch and we do not have any sales data, yet. We have developed the product on the back of extensive consumer research, though: We personally met with many different consumers to understand their unique requirements. Almost all of them craved more storage flexibility, as their own cooling appliances did not fulfill their changing needs. One day, they needed more fridge space to store extra veggies or beverages for a party. Another day, consumers wanted extra freezer space to store desserts or other frozen foods. The available space in the fridge or the freezer was never quite right. When we presented them with our innovative solution during prototype testing, they really appreciated the new flexibility on demand. 

The MaxFlex refrigerator lets consumers use either 40% of the appliance as freezer or 78% as refrigerator. That sounds like a technical challenge. How did you make that happen, Kunal? 

Kunal: Our biggest challenge was to achieve freezing temperatures in the convertible compartment. To make it possible, we introduced a separate fan in the airflow design for the new compartment. This is how we achieved a temperature range from -6°C to +6°C degrees, which we call “Soft freezing”. We celebrate this new feature because it allows consumers to store food in the third compartment, which technically does not require deep freezing. Furthermore, the new space helps to reduce the thawing time for food items before they are cooked or consumed. And consumers can use the compartment for preparing chilled beverages for social gatherings at home. Another benefit: The third compartment also helps to separate food items within the appliance, locating them easier and limiting door opening to a specific section. Thus, the other cavities stay cool and the appliance becomes more efficient!

“My personal vision was to make sure consumers understand the intent of flexibility and relate it to their lifestyle. Connecting all the dots, this new compartment has high emotional value for our consumers, who often face the lack of space in the freezer or the fridge”, explains Industrial Designer Kunal Shah.

What makes this BSH innovation unique from your point of view? 

Rahul: The new convertible compartment and thus the whole MaxFlex appliance is one of our best proof points towards consumer centricity. We are addressing a very fundamental need that helps consumers customize their refrigerator to meet seasonal changes. I am very proud of this innovation, because my project team revolutionized the concept of ‘space’ for Bosch’s complete MaxFlex refrigerator range. We developed mid-size refrigerators that occupy the same space in our consumers’ homes but provide enhanced compartment flexibility. In addition, the refrigerator range offers different size, pricing and design options that give BSH a strong edge in this highly competitive market.

What did you personally like best about the innovation project?

Rahul: For me as a marketing professional, the entire project was very fulfilling: it started with the definition of our consumers’ needs and now I am seeing the final products and consumer reactions. I couldn’t be prouder! 
Kunal: Addressing flexibility in the refrigerator to fulfill our consumers’ changing needs has a lot to do with our project team coming together and making sure that this dream becomes reality. I also like the fact that the team openly welcomed new initiatives like “Perceived Quality” workshops to raise the bar for quality standards to make a real difference on the shop floor.

What happens next? 

Rahul: We would love to see this innovation reach as many markets as possible, because some of the consumer needs are similar all around the world. However, this innovation is only available in India, for now. We are currently focusing our energy to ensure that all our Indian consumers learn about the new refrigerator range and its benefits! 

    

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BSH all over the world.

BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.