Why is Smeg so expensive?

Why is Smeg so expensive?

The retro-style of Smeg’s appliances scores a perfect 10 in the looks department in my books. I’m not the only one that thinks this either, these stylish appliances are the reason the Italian company has become a global icon in recent years. They were also awarded various Good Design Awards in 2019 and 2020 for their fashion-conscious kitchen accessories, a testament to how beautiful these machines really are.

Unfortunately, it’s probably not just their beautiful aesthetics that will catch your attention. I’m sure the eye-watering price tag will also make you do a double-take.

You, along with the rest of the world, might be wondering why Smeg appliances are so expensive. I don’t blame you either, Smeg appliances cost considerably more compared to most other reputable household brands. 

I have done some digging into the main reasons why is Smeg so expensive, and whether you can actually justify paying these hefty price tags. 

Who is Smeg?

Smeg has its roots in Northern Italy, created by Vittorio Bertazzoni in 1948. The company originally specialized in enamel and metalwork, although they moved to manufacture white goods in 1956, with the goal of creating products that made housework less hassle. 

Since then, the family-owned Italian company has expanded to create a reputation for itself as a major manufacturer of large appliances for domestic and commercial use. The company produces a range of goods from refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and in 2014, expanded into small domestic appliances including; toasters, stand mixers, kettles and most recently coffee machines.

Many of Smeg’s larger appliances are manufactured in Italy, in one of their four specialist factories, while their smaller appliances are made in China.

Smeg appliances are clearly models with luxury prices ranging from $5467 for a gas cooker to $838 for an espresso coffee maker and $194 for their FAB 50 electric kettle.

How much higher are their prices than average appliances? 

The price of Smeg appliances is significantly higher than other trusted home brands like Bosch, Electrolux, Samsung or GE. In fact, Smeg products cost double or triple the amount you’d shell out for a similar product sold by an average or popular brand.

Take the humble electric kettle, for example. For a Smeg you will pay around $200, while the most decadent models from Hamilton Beach or Cuisinart, retail at $69 and $99 respectively. When you compare with a non-branded kettle selling at $20, Smeg is priced a whopping 10 TIMES higher. 

Why is Smeg So Expensive? 

You’re paying for their artistic creations

Design is the single biggest reason why smeg appliances are so expensive. Don’t think of Smeg as buying any old countertop appliance, the company wants to evoke the experience of owning artwork, similar to buying a prized painting to hang on your wall.

Smeg devotes considerable time, energy and resources to perfecting the aesthetics of all of their creations.  Design is so important in fact, that the company has worked closely with celebrity architects and designers for decades in order to create lines of visually stunning home and kitchen appliances. 

Here are a few examples of their aesthetic lines.

  • Guido Canali, one of Italy’s leading architects, has worked with Smeg since 1985 and is the man behind the ‘Classica’ line. They are a cornerstone of Smegs product offering with the Classica aesthetic using on appliances including ovens, hobs and dishwashers. The products are identified by their modern classic design, solid stainless steel volumes, and the signature Canali control knobs. 
  • Mario Bellini is a talented product designer and architect with permanent displays in the New York Museum of Modern Art. Bellini worked with Smeg to create the Victoria and Contemporary lines that married tech with soft, classic lines.
  • Renzo Piano, a world renouned architenct with creations like the London Shard and the New York Times Skyscraper, is repsonible for the ‘Piano Design’, a range of high-quality stainless steel hobs and sinks which curvature exude luxe and strength.  
  • Marc Newson, a man that has been described as ‘one of the most influcencial designers of his generaion’, and included in the TIMES 100 most influencial people list. The Australian designer created the ‘Newson’ line for Semg, idenfitfed by their soft lines and colorful astheics.
  • Matteo Bazzicalupo & Raffaella Mangiarotti of Deepdesign are the designers behind the FAB 50’s range, as well as Smeg’s small appliances.

You’re paying for a luxury brand 

We are all guilty of choosing products because of the associated value and the perception we have of their brand names.
The trust and reputation that these companies acquire over the years allow them to charge more for their products.

This is no different for home appliances. When you buy from a company like KitchenAid or Smeg, you’re not just paying for the product quality or design but for the awe the name evokes. For luxury brands like Smeg, this goes a step further, it is how people see you differently when you own such expensive items. Like other high-end goods – designer shoes, cars or clothes – Smeg appliances are status symbols. 

Smeg presents itself as a luxe brand. And the fundamental fact remains that luxury brands sell at luxury prices. 

Compare any of Smeg’s products to budget offerings, and you’ll quickly realize that there isn’t much difference in terms of performance or build quality. These kitchen and home devices represent class, style and wealth, and are meant for flaunting rather than performance.

Pricy collaborations

Italy, a country that is synonymous with style, fashion and the renaissance period. Being an Italian luxury appliance manufacturer, it is only natural for Smeg to collaborate with other famous Italian brands to produce truly unique products. 

As a result, you’re not paying for the name Smeg name alone, but sometimes for the associated brand power as well. 

For instance, Smeg teamed up with Dolce and Gabbana to create the ‘Sicily Is My Love’ line. This colorful and artistic range of kitchen appliances features the iconic D&G design, highlighting the beauty of Sicily and its culture.

And that is too vibrant for you, you have the one-door Fiat Fridge that is shaped like the bonnet and introduced in 2013. This isn’t just a quirky man-gave accessory though, it also embodies Smeg’s historic routes, a nod to the company’s first collaboration with Fiat making fridges after the Second World War.

Made in Italy… Sometimes

The place of origin adds to the novelty factor and by extension to the cost of a product, whether it is a baking pan or a stand mixer.

Let’s admit it! Aren’t you willing to pay extra for something that is made in the USA, UK, or your home country?

Smeg’s major product offering is their white goods right from the Elizabeth gas cooker in the 1950s with smaller appliances added to the collection in 2014. 

The larger appliances, not limited to refrigerators or washing machines, are built in one of the four factories based in Northern Italy. This certainly is one of the contributing factors to higher prices.

Although Smaller appliances including kettles, stand mixers, and toasters manufactured in China (with the exception of the ‘Sicily Is My Love’ Line) these equally benefit from the status symbol pricing.

All this is fine, but the moot question remains unanswered.

Are Smeg Appliances worth it?

After discovering the eye-watering price of their products, the logical question most people ask is, whether Smeg Appliances are worth spending a fortune on?

Our answer is: it depends. On your priorities and goals.  

If aesthetics and design are more important to you compared to all other features and benefits, then yes, investing in a few Smeg appliances is worth it. 

If you’re one of those millennial high earners who want to flaunt their wealth and seek status symbols or exclusive looking appliances to adorn their home, then, an astounding yes again.

But for most people, I would assume that design takes third place to build quality and useful functions. For others, it goes down a level below price consideration.

And I hate to say this, but you don’t have to look very far to find.  In this aspect, Smeg machines are somewhat lacking. 

The Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed (a trusted name in expert opinions and reviews) didn’t mince his words when it came to many of Smeg’s appliances. He was not impressed with their tech.

Choice also recommends caution when it comes to appliances from Smeg. They do have a problem with many brand products (which appliances do they not recommend??),  but this is consistent with the views of other experts and customers It’s not all doom and gloom though, they do have good things to say about their wall ovens and coffee machines.  

And it is not just me or experts who concur. Customers who fell for the brand name and looks and brought home one of Smeg’s expensive gadgets have negative experiences with their appliances. Even their cheapest product like the $200 Tea Kettle has dissatisfied users who had to contend with chipping and broken parts, long boiling times and leaks. 

Their beautiful blenders are met with similar reviews. One user opined that a cheap Hamilton Beach or Oster would do a much better job.

There are plenty of other horror stories too like refrigerators not cooling well, to keep food fresh or breaking down within a year or two. One unlucky Smeg customer had her and her dad’s dishwasher catching fire. 

There you have it. Smeg products look downright gorgeous but will inevitably cost you an arm and a leg. These appliances will not only pinch your pocket but their performance and durability remain inconsistent and lacking compared to other costlier as well as cheaper products.

Would I choose Smeg or another brand? I’m not so sure. When it comes to the Smeg vs KitchenAid stand mixer, I know which one I would choose.