Business report > Business and financial review
Differentiated customer approach
In order to ensure the Group’s long-term success, Geberit relies on sustainable organic growth. To do this, it needs to increase penetration in the existing markets and also develop new markets. The needs and requirements of the various target groups – whether they are wholesalers, plumbers, architects, end users or real estate investors – thus play a central role in all marketing activities.
At the forefront are around 500 technical advisors working in field service at the local sales companies, who are in daily contact with plumbers, planners and architects. Training is another important instrument in retaining customers. During the reporting year, around 30,000 customers were provided with education and further training on Geberit products and software tools in the 25 information centers in Europe and overseas. Additionally, external events provide a special setting for training courses offered in cooperation with partners. In this way, around 80,000 customers became more familiar with Geberit know-how and products in 2013. In order for these customer events and training courses to be successful, it is not just the content that has to be constantly updated. In addition to the traditional focus on those in the trade, the increasing orientation towards end users requires the sales arguments to be tailored as specifically as possible to the different requirements of the target groups.
Preparations for the marketing activities to mark the “50 years of concealed cisterns” anniversary in 2014 are already underway. With more than 60 million cisterns sold to date, this constantly evolving product is a real success story. The success of the concealed cistern triggered the development of prewall installation, which allowed bathrooms to be designed with unprecedented levels of freedom. A paradigm shift occurred in European bathrooms – the bathroom was no longer merely a functional room, but instead was transformed into an area of comfort with individual fittings.
Internationally successful AquaClean campaign
Of particular importance in 2013 was the new cross-media AquaClean advertising campaign launched in a total of eleven markets – including → Italy and Poland for the first time. Water is the key element of the campaign. With slogans such as “natural freshness”, “pure cleanliness” and “modern well-being”, a dance performance evokes a sense of emotion and aesthetics. The Geberit AquaClean Sela – a shower toilet with a sophisticated technology concept – was also introduced at the start of the campaign. The design from Matteo Thun won the “iF product design award” and the “Interior Innovation Award”, and also took home the “Design Plus powered by ISH 2013” award at the ISH in Frankfurt.
Brand tracking studies for end users were carried out in all eleven shower toilet markets in 2013. In addition to sociodemographic data, the studies also provided information on the respective awareness of the shower toilet product category, attitude and behavioral parameters, and also the perception of the Geberit AquaClean brand and the most important competitors. In all markets, the awareness of the product category and the perception of the Geberit AquaClean brand in particular have significantly increased – and the upward trend shows no signs of abating. The study reflects the success of market cultivation and the campaign in the individual markets.
Positive reaction to events
Geberit’s most important target group is and remains plumbers. The current, tried-and-tested market cultivation activities such as customer visits, training or the provision of technical documentation were continued, as were the → “Geberit On Tour” events and the → “Geberit Challenge” competition for plumbers. “Geberit On Tour” is a mobile exhibition that allowed plumbers to experience the advantages of Geberit products up close and personally at more than 1,150 events in 2013. Around 34,000 visitors were registered at these events in total. The “Geberit Challenge” took place in Switzerland, Finland and twice in the United Kingdom in 2013. Garnering much media attention, the best team of plumbers in each of these countries was chosen. The Challenge events were also awarded the “Xaver” in 2013, the Swiss event industry’s most important award. The format won over the independent jury and stole the show from other high-profile competitors.
Further improvements in customer service
Customer service and attractive information on new products are continuously improved and the range and use of communication tools further optimized. For example, since 2012 all Geberit technical advisors in Germany have been equipped with iPads. Using the sales app, the advisors can access all the relevant sales documentation online during sales discussions and then send it directly to the customer as required. As this new service has been met with a positive response from all participants, the sales app will now be made available to Geberit field service staff in a total of 20 markets. Also extremely popular among customers is the Geberit ProApp, which makes it easier to find and order spare parts. As Geberit guarantees the availability of spare parts for 25 years, the app is an extremely useful tool. This is also reflected in its popularity – since the launch of the Geberit ProApp at the ISH in March 2013, the app was downloaded 23,356 times and visited over 100,000 times by the end of the year. Additionally, the technical hotline – which has proven extremely successful in Germany for many years – will also be expanded to the Swiss market in 2014.
More emotion in customer communication
In 2013, Geberit again found trade fairs to be a suitable platform for maintaining customer contact and demonstrating the company’s its innovative power. The most important trade fairs were the ISH in Frankfurt (DE), Batibouw in Brussels (BE), Mosbuild in Moscow (RU), Kitchen & Bath China in Shanghai (CN), Idéo Bain in Paris (FR) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas (US). Architects and designers were addressed directly at the Fuori Salone – the international design meeting point – in Milan (IT). In contrast to plumbers and planners, it is less the technical facts than the emotional and design aspects that count in communication with end users, designers and architects. With these customers in mind, Geberit Germany welcomed a total of 1,700 customers at ten trend shows in 2013. At these events, the participants were able to find out what the bathroom of tomorrow must offer in order to meet the changed needs of the customer – and how Geberit is addressing this trend in terms of design and innovations. The starting point for this series of events was a trend study carried out by Zukunftsinstitut GmbH in Frankfurt (DE) entitled “Changes in Body Awareness and Hygiene”. One of the findings from the study revealed that the bathroom will increasingly become a place of communication and also a home for innovative technologies and devices.