In the U.S., SharkNinja has become a well known commodity in a fairly short amount of time. The privately-held appliances brand sells vacuum cleaners under the Shark logo, while its line of food processors, coffee makers, pressure cookers and blenders are sold under the Ninja branding.
In the United States, Shark vacuums run the market — it’s the top selling upright brand and owns 35 percent of the market. Not bad for a firm that in 2010 controlled only 1 percent of the market. But SharkNinja is older than it appears. The firm’s first name was EuroPro, and Chief Executive Mark Rosenzweig is the third generation of his family to lead the firm, which formally rebranded as SharkNinja in 2015.
In 2008, the firm began its development path toward its current iteration, product-wise, with Rosenzweig’s decision to hit reset on the brand’s merchandise lineup — and a focus on eliminating “opening price products” from its offering. Instead of offering consumers the cheapest possible version of what was already out there, Shark and Ninja products would focus on innovation — and attracting consumers with new and improved versions of products designed to assist them in their everyday life.
In the U.S. that has been highly successful, and the brand has built an incredibly large and loyal fanbase. By 2014, Shark vacuums had bumped longtime global leader in vacuum technology Dyson as the top brand in the states, and its market share has only grown from there.
And so SharkNinja is now looking beyond U.S. shores — and to bringing the fight to Dyson’s home territory.
“We want to expand and increase our sales not only in the UK but in mainland Europe and throughout Asia,” Rosenzweig told The Financial Times.
And the firm is backing up that ambition with investment, constructing a research center in London to house 100 engineers in 2019 and launching and extensive marketing campaign to spread the good word of the Shark vacuum to British and European consumers. The goal, according to SharkNinja, is to double its European sales to around $660 million ( £500 million) over the next three years.
SharkNinja European President Matt Broadway said the company knows it is taking on regional champion Dyson, but it is doing so on the back of nearly doubled SharkNinja sales in the U.K. and Europe over that last few years, and the firm “fully intend[s] to become UK market leader” in floor care.
“We have a huge amount of respect for Dyson. What they’ve done and continue to do,” he said. “We think we’ve got innovations that are starting to really outperform Dyson products both in cordless and corded as well.”
The two brands have done some legal battling over the course of the last year, whatever tremendous respect they have for each other. In 2018 Dyson accused SharkNinja of patent infringement, but a court dismissed the case and Dyson subsequently dropped its appeal in July. Dyson did not lose a false advertising suit again SharkNinja however, and was awarded $16.4m in damages by a U.S. federal jury. The advertising campaign in question claimed in 2014 that a model of the Shark vacuum was better at cleaning carpets than a rival Dyson machine.
“The courts have held SharkNinja accountable for intentionally misleading consumers through false advertisement. Dyson’s focus is on relentless research, development and testing to deliver new and better products which improve the lives of our owners,” Dyson noted in a statement at the time of the ruling.
SharkNinja has lodged an appeal.
And legal sparring aside, the Newton, Massachusetts-based appliances brand is undaunted in its European push, despite its small presence today. Though SharkNinja claims it is making gains in the U.K. vacuum market in recent months, its retail sales were just 2 percent of the total last year, according to data provider Euromonitor. Dyson controls over 20 percent of the market — and Hoover, Samsung, Electrolux and Miele all lead SharkNinja at present.
But in 2010 Shark held less than 2 percent of the U.S. market — and went on to “eat Dyson’s lunch” with a combination of clever marketing and solid products. Whether it can pull off the same trick in Europe will be an an interesting question to watch unfold in 2019. But at this point it is safe to say the company has got Dyson’s worried attention.
“They’ve been the market leader for a great time [and] created a lot of these categories and we’re very happy to be the challenger brand hot on their heels,” Broadway said.