The Success Story Of Vorwerk’s Thermomix

Reiner Strecker Vorwerk


Germany's Waz newspaper explores the Thermomix success story and tries to understand what makes this food processor so successful. 

Thermomix by Vorwerk is an incredible German success story. In addition to a food processor, the customer also gets a piece of security with him.

Madness! Incredible! Whoever attends a presentation of the Thermomix inevitably feels transported back to the time of the economic miracle when arduous, long daily tasks could suddenly be completed in a few simple steps. A time when the vacuum cleaner or blender looked like small miracles. Some sociologists say that machines played a significant role in the women’s empowerment movement. Listening to all this talk about the Thermomix you would think future scientists would award it a similarly important role in history.

The Thermomix can heat, mix, knead, beat, steam and theoretically even prepare complete meals. If you believe the product marketing, this kitchen appliance turns the people in your own kitchen to mere suppliers of goods. One only has to throw the right foods in the Thermomix, press the appropriate buttons and the machine does the rest!

No other German electrical appliance is so idolized by its owners, and so ridiculed by its critics as the Thermomix. You can draw a parallel between this food processor from Wuppertal and Apple's iPhone from Cupertino. Both devices can cause hatred or idolatry, admiration or ridicule. When Vorwerk introduced the new Thermomix TM5 in 2014 as a complete surprise to the market, the group caused a considerable outcry among its followers. Many felt betrayed because they had only recently bought the old Thermomix TM31 for a lot of money. But of course they bought the new device anyway.

Since the launch of the TM5, Vorwerk has already sold over a million units. The demand is so great that production can hardly keep up. Anyone buying a Thermomix must wait several weeks for their device. Since 2014, the Thermomix has been the most important Vorwerk product and has generated more sales than the time-honored Kobold vacuum cleaner.

Since the introduction of the TM5, business has gone up to a completely different level, says Anke Flüs. She works as a direct sales representative for Vorwerk in Wuppertal and sells Thermomix through parties at her home. Anyone who has a Thermomix can organize a cooking event and invite friends to their home. Vorwerk gives the organizer a small gift in return. This is obviously a small price to pay considering the Thermomix representative must spend many hours organizing and presenting the appliance in a private event.

Recently the Thermomix World was shaken by the Stiftung Warentest. In a test for cooking machines the 1100 Euro product landed only the fourth place. Technically, competitors of the Vorwerk product have more than caught up. However, no one talks about the KitchenAid Artisan Cook Processor or the Kenwood Cooking Chef. Everyone only talks about the Thermomix!

In Wuppertal alone, Vorwerk has 200 representatives like Anke Flus. Anyone who wants to buy a Thermomix must listen to the presentation first.

Vorwerk is one of the last companies to sell its products exclusively through direct sales representatives. There is an online shop and there are physical stores but the main products are not sold there, only the accessories, explains Dr. Eva Stüber from the Institute of Trade Research in Cologne: You can watch the demonstration of the Kobold vacuum cleaner or Thermomix in a store and get your questions answered, but you can only buy them through the representatives.

So while Vorwerk acquires fewer customers this way, it also has full control over the presentation of its product. This way the Thermomix is not sandwiched between many other electrical devices, but is the sole star. 

One does not just go out and buy an expensive 1100 Euro food processor such as the Thermomix, explains Eva Stüber. The product must be brought to life. And what better way to do that than by cooking together at a private event?

The Thermomix has more searches than Angela Merkel

But the ‘cooking show’ events are strictly standardized. Whether clients attend a presentation in Schwerin, Ingolstadt or Castrop – the cooked menu is always the same and is determined by Vorwerk. There are whole-food sandwiches, Mediterranean cheese spread, vegetable platter with sauce, broccoli salad and sherbet. Every single time. At each presentation.

The Vorwerk Thermomix, similar to Apple iPhone, has long since created its own ecosystem. With well-connected representatives, Vorwerk shops, its proprietary recipes for Thermomix international dishes and classic cookbooks planted in a memory chip in the new TM5, the Thermomix ecosystem is self-sufficient. On Youtube there are many channels dedicated exclusively to the Thermomix. 

While Vorwerk also builds tools, offers cosmetics and manufactures carpets, everyone only talks about the Thermomix. Google in Germany receives more searches for Thermomix than Angela Merkel or Taylor Swift!

Perhaps the Thermomix is not the reincarnation of the washing machine. Maybe it's more like the sandwich maker and bakery equipment of the nineties shrunk down to size in a few years.

At the end of her presentation, Anke Flus has convinced her clientele about the marvels of the Thermomix. She sells several units of Thermomix and it is business as usual.


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