Sears parlays brand reputation and service network with connected home line

sears kcd kenmore craftsman diehard smart home riding mower
Meet the new brand, same as the old brands. Sears Holdings, the U.S. holding company that owns the Sears and Kmart retail chains, has repurposed and combined three of its best-known product names — Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard — into the new KCD brand for connected products, according to Twice.

KCD president Tom Park pushed the focus on smart homes as a way to not only participate in the connected space market but bring to the relatively new market two elements he sees as missing: trust and reliability. Kenmore appliances bring a full century of history. Craftsman tools are known for their guaranteed durability and lifetime warranties. DieHard batteries have helped start automotive products for more than 50 years.

In 2016, Sears Holding added smart features to the separate brands, with Kenmore smart air conditioners, water heaters, and water softeners, a wireless enabled Craftsman lawnmower, and a DieHard smart battery charger. Now the KCD brand will be adding a distinctive Smart label to all connected appliances and is expanding the number and type of products. Park told Twice that in 2017 most KCD products will “have smart capabilities” and by 2018 everything sold under the KCD brand will be connected.

Examples of Smart-labelled new appliances include a 24-cubic-foot Kenmore Elite French door refrigerator with 122 sensors that allow remote monitoring and changes, as well as the ability to alert Sears customer before problems arise. Craftsman Pro Series tool storage units will have smartphone-connected locks and all lawn tractors will have Bluetooth for alerting owners to preventative maintenance needs.

Park has big plans for the KCD brand trio, particularly by connecting to the vast Sears home service network. He said the company will keep prices under control with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and by keeping a lid on smart features. “Where there’s a need, it will be connected; where there isn’t one, it won’t,” Park told Twice.

Without being specific, Park also indicated KCD may be unleashing Alfie, the Kenmore Digital shopping assistant, with more functionality. Alfie looks similar to an Amazon Echo Dot, but with a push-to-talk button. It will be interesting to see what role Alfie could play in the new KCD brand rollout.

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