Dyson vacuum cleaners: the power of marketing?

A recent visit to the local vacuum cleaner store prompted me to ask the owner whether he recommended the Dyson products on his showroom floor. “Because they’re bagless they need a lot of service and cleaning,” he replied. “In addition to what you do at home you need to bring them in every two years for about $150 of professional service. Then they die after about five years. Compare that to $20 per year of bags for a Miele.” Consumer Reports rates the cleaning performance of the Dysons as far inferior to competitive products (a $550 “Cinetic Animal” machine scores below a $150 Hoover canister), except for their “Ball Multi Floor” upright ($400, albeit underperforms a $160 Eureka, a $180 Hoover, and a $200 Kenmore (all with bags)). How can they sell any machines at all then? “Dyson puts a huge amount of money into marketing,” said the owner. “Miele puts the money into the product and counts on the fact that once you buy a Miele you will be a Miele customer for a lifetime.”

He had scarcely finished this explanation when a guy walked in with a $500 Dyson upright. He plugged it in and there was an insane amount of noise but no suction. “You’re going to need some new filters and a thorough cleaning,” said the vacuum expert….

What do readers think? Is there anything to like about Dyson vacuums or does their success as a company prove that the best path to success is through superior marketing?

[Disclosure: I have a 20-year-old Miele that still works great.]

28 thoughts on “Dyson vacuum cleaners: the power of marketing?

  1. The part about regular service smells like bullshit to me – I’ve had my Dyson since 2005 and had to bring it in exactly never. I empty the chamber when it’s full and occasionally (every 1-2 years) clean out the filter pad with cold water, and it’s fine.

    That said, when it eventually breaks down, I’ll probably get something else. It’s just not amazing enough to justify the price, and the bagless thing is a wash – it’s nice to not have to keep yet another thing in stock, but emptying the chamber is kind of gross.

  2. I have a 7-year-old Miele that still works great. 🙂

    The biggest problem we’ve got in Europe now is that because of some EC directive, all new vacuum cleaners must be 1,600W or less (my current one is 2,100).

    I’ve never understood why someone wants to get dirty every time you have to empty the vacuum. I have one of those Black & Decker hand-held vacs, and emptying it is not a pleasant experience.

  3. Miele C3 is the best vacuum cleaner ever created. It’s a dual purposes unit, as it also cleans the air in your house as well…

  4. We have a Dyson and and a Miele, both a few years old and both reliable. The Dyson is a cordless stick vacuum with powerful suction for its size which we chose after surveying the competition. At the time we knew nothing about Dyson, only that we wanted a lightweight and powerful cordless. It’s quite simple to empty and clean, so I don’t see how it would need periodic visits to the shop just for cleaning.

    I remember when we were in the shop the guy there also disparaged the Dyson and praised the Miele. Our Miele’s great, but requires replacement bags where the Dyson does not. Perhaps this recurring revenue colors shop owners’ recommendations somewhat.

  5. We have had a Dyson Animal since it first came out (more than 5 years), and a Labrador Retriever (so it gets a workout). Our unit has never been serviced, and still works just fine. We had a Miele canister before, which worked fine, but was even more expensive than the Dyson. The Dyson is hard to maneuver, but (probably) won’t be replaced until it breaks.

  6. We have an original yellow Dyson (before they made all sorts of models). Easily over a decade old, still works great, never had to service it (other than washing the filter every few years). I love not having to deal with vacuum bags. It’s also great to tell at a glance when it’s filling up.

    Minuses: It’s heavy, and I miss having an auto-retracting cord.

  7. I love my Dyson for the same reason I love my Ferrari. The beauty of it! It makes me feel good to have such a beautiful object. Also it makes me feel like a big man to know I can afford such an expensive vacuum cleaner. Not to mention the fact that my neighbors are jealous of me!

  8. We have had our Dyson DC14 Animal for 8+ years. Had it serviced once and had the beater bar replaced during that service = $85. We have two Golden mixes and three cats in the house so it gets a workout. No issues dumping the bin. Removing the beater bar from the head and cleaning off the wound up hair and fur gets old but we’ve had to do that with every vacuum. Will never go back to a canister or a vacuum that requires a bag again.

  9. We have a dyson animal ball, three kids , and a 100 lb GSD. We have had the dyson for almost 5 years with no problems. Cleaned the filter once or twice with water as recommended.

  10. Vacuum cleaner marketing has always had a large element of hype. A vacuum cleaner is not rocket science – you have a motor and a fan to create suction, some sort of hose or nozzle to channel it and a chamber to catch the dirt.

    Definitely go for a bagged model unless you enjoy handing dirt and dust and cleaning all sorts of filters and compartments. The cost of the bags is minor compared to the convenience and lack of mess. Don’t wait until the bags are packed full -change them when they are around 3/4 full.

  11. I have two cats and every other vacuum I had before the Dyson has died inside of a year. The Dyson was the first vacuum I bought that could stand up to shedding–going 7 years strong.

  12. I suspect it is my own incompetence but I always managed to get dirty getting bags out of our Meile (17 years ago). I much prefer our Dysons. I have had a yellow upright for a decade and a little battery one for a year. Both work well. Never needed a service. Neither has the one my parents own nor the one my parents in law own. Based on my experience with other bagless battery cleaners the Dyson is sooooo much easier to empty and is much more powerful. I would like to have a spare battery for the stick one but I don’t really want to keep vacuuming forever. Actually I don’t want to vacuum at all but my wife says we can’t move every time the floor gets a bit dusty…

  13. Dyson works significantly better with our thin carpet type, and as others have posted, doesn’t require a lot of expensive maintenance at all. Also, most of the bagged ones are heavier and if you live somewhere with many staircases, dragging a big heavy vacuum up and down the stairs is not easy on a woman’s body, so this housewife (and her cleaning lady) prefers the lighter weight of the Dyson.

  14. I’ve had a Dyson for over eight years. I had to disassemble it once or twice to clear airways, etc after vacuuming some large debris, but other than that, no problems. I’ve never had it serviced.

  15. I’ve had my DC-14 for over 12 years. Never needed to go in, and I like that it’s relatively simple to take apart the entire vacuum chain, which you might need to do if you suck up a pen or something that, or so I’ve heard.

  16. Don’t buy a Dyson. They’re more marketing hype than performance. I had one, gave it to our recycle center (dump) after 6 months. They’re a pain to disassemble and clean. Suction power fades fast if you’re sucking up anything more than light carpet lint. Changing bags is much easier, much cleaner, much quieter.

  17. Been through several cheap Hoovers. Finally bought a Dyson on a friend’s recommendation, and we like it because it works well. We also have a Rainbow, which my parents sold us very cheap. That one’s built for a lifetime, and the self-propulsion is nice. We just bought a 3-level house, so having multiple vacuums is great, and the Rainbow will stay in the basement with the heavy carpet.

    The Dyson feels cheap, but it’s lasted for many years without any of the handle-able parts breaking, albeit with one major service: replacing the beater brush. Cleaning that thing is a MASSIVE pain because there’s no way to actually REMOVE it, so I have to clean it while moving it around, with the belt fighting me at every turn. My wife keeps her hair long, and it’s thick, so beater brushes and drains need regular cleaning. The bearings seized because of all of this, and that’s why it had to be replaced.

    If I ever have to buy another vacuum, I’ll be tempted to go with the recommendation from the local guy (who worked on several of our Hoovers and the Dyson) to buy a brand I can’t recall, but which looks and is priced just the same as the Miele being discussed here.

  18. Dyson puts money into marketing and Miele doesn’t? Hilarious rubbish. That owner was likely paid by Miele to tell you this story. Dysons certainly don’t need regular servicing, you just need to keep it clean which you can easily do yourself. Then again, maybe his customers are all as clueless as the guy who came in. Yes, you do need to take apart the machine and clean it whenever the chamber is full. It’s quick & simple (use water) but apparently too much for some. Shrug.

    I’ve owned two Dysons. One (DC-08 Telescope AnimalPro) I had for eight years, never a problem, only ditched it because it’s a floor model that was too big for a new apartment. The other (DC-62 Digital Slim AnimalPro) is a cordless handheld I’ve had for four months now, likewise no trouble so far.

    Suction power of both is better than literally any other cleaner I’ve had, especially those with bags, so I don’t know what the Consumer Report people were smoking. More corruption possibly. Dyson claims the established competitors who made a mint selling bags hated the upstart and tried to destroy it, using liberal amounts of sockpuppets and propaganda about how terrible Dyson cleaners are…

  19. I don’t really believe in bagless vacuum cleaners because I don’t want to put a bunch of dust into the air that I breathe. I got one with a HEPA filter, the cheapest one that was rated the highest on Consumer Reports.

    Similar to a water filter, a vacuum cleaner is something where you are probably not going to know if it’s not working correctly. Probably a very weak vacuum cleaner would still pick up the obvious hair and dust, and look fine to most people. Similarly, a really crappy water filter that doesn’t filter out most heavy metals would still taste pretty similar to one that is working correctly.

    I’m curious what the actual numbers are for maintenance costs. Any vacuum cleaner store should have them and you should be able to compare the maintenance incidents with the total buyers of both models.

  20. We’ve had a Dyson for around ten years which we exported to Romania (cannot seem to buy them here). Same amazing performance as when we bought it and can’t think of any other household gadget that’s can compare in longevity. Getting a simple garlic press to last more than two years appears to be impossible.

  21. I would suggest that the two questions are not mutually exclusive. Yes, there’s lots to like about Dyson vacuums. We own 3 between us and the in-laws, each around 8yrs old, zero maintenance and superior ease/performance to our previous bagged models. And yes, if you are introducing a new product concept/approach to buyers then superior marketing is definitely the best path to success.

  22. Interesting information. We have a Miele and like it but it is heavy to hump up stairs and down. Most of our flooring is hardwood or tile, and we have a dog that sheds a lot.
    We’ve been considering a Dyson cordless but the price is scary. Why are there not more quality cordless competitors? It is not as if there aren’t good high-capacity rechargeable batteries in use in the power tool industry.

  23. Ours is a Shark (Dyson knock-off about half the price), bought after years of Hoover and Electrolux for hard floors. Still use the Elux and Swiffer/mop for hard floor but the Shark does fine on carpets and I’m always amazed at the amount of dust extracted from carpets with just two seniors and no pets.

  24. I bought a Miele Classic Futura dishwasher after reading some “real” owner opinions. Turned out It doesn’t clean dishes or silverware well. It leaves the pieces of food stuck. Forget about cleaning pots and pans unless you “pre-clean” them by hand in the sink. I did call the customer service and went through all the usual checks with them. The Internet seems to be a big hit or miss as far as the guide for consumer products.

  25. I have a kirby that is still going strong after 20+ years. Never been serviced. The only problem is that it is heavy, so it is only used on the first floor.

    I’ve had many other vacuums over the years. They all go bad after a few years. My current vacuum is a year old Dyson DC65 that seems to be fine, as long as you clean the filters religiously.

  26. Miele products are engineering excellence! I have purchased both Miele and Dyson vacuums over the years. Still have every single Miele unit. Never needed service 🙂
    Same goes for their washers/dryers (German-made only) have a 15 years old set that still works like new.

    Very few of today’s consumer products Have Miele’s quality…

  27. I’m sorry, I like looking at the dust. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Call it marketing engineering.

  28. Have one for three years. If I knew what I know now, I would probably have saved the money for something a lot cheaper. It is Purrrty to look at and does a passable job but not all that different from other vacuums out there. Same with the “air multipliers” which sound like a hair dryer!

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