Focus on customer needs

in order to ensure the Group’s long-term success, Geberit relies on sustainable organic growth. The needs and requirements of the various target groups – whether they are wholesalers, plumbers, sanitary engineers, 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, sanitary planners and architects. Another central element for retaining customers is Geberit’s broad range of training opportunities. During the reporting year, around 30,000 customers were provided with education and further training on Geberit products and software tools in the 25 Geberit information centers in Europe and overseas. Once again around 70,000 customers became more familiar with Geberit know-how and products at external events that took place in 2014. in order for these customer events and training courses to be successful, it was not just the content that had to be constantly updated. In addition to the traditional focus on those in the trade, an increasing orientation towards end users required the sales arguments to be tailored as specifically as possible to the different requirements of the target groups.

Festive events to mark “50 years of concealed cisterns”

The concealed cistern celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. With more than 60 million cisterns sold to date since its launch by Geberit in 1964, this constantly evolving product is a real success story. The success of the concealed cistern triggered the development of prewall installations, 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.

Geberit used the occasion to thank many customers for their years of loyalty, which included hosting carefully prepared events in its markets. A real highlight was the five gala evenings in Duisburg and Stuttgart (DE), Bern (CH), Birmingham (UK) and Amsterdam (NL) to which Geberit invited its most important customers and partners, which included a stage show developed by the company and a meal comprised of several courses. A total of 3,800 guests attended these gala events. Similar but locally organized events were held for instance in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia. Alongside the gala evenings, building site parties were held across Germany under the slogan “the building site rocks”. At 36 events, almost 10,000 participants were able to combine a casual after-work get-together with the presentation of new products and catering to match the slogan. All of these events formed a milestone for Geberit in the management of its business relationships.

Various special exhibits served to make the technology and history of the concealed cistern more accessible and tangible. In addition, a film provided an exemplary illustration of the  history of the concealed cisterns that were first installed in 1964 at the Hotel Eiger in Grindelwald (CH). The 50-year-old installations were subjected to a complete overhaul in 2014. In line with their reputation as icons of reliability, the concealed cisterns from the pioneering era were still in impeccable condition.

Further professionalization of marketing lays the basis for continued growth in the shower toilet market

The Geberit AquaClean advertising campaign already launched in previous years in a total of 11 markets was continued in the reporting year. Furthermore, the marketing processes and instruments were systematically expanded further. This included an extended cross-media communication concept for a direct customer approach in order to convey the benefits of the shower toilet and the AquaClean brand through the “Aqua Times” magazine, the Internet and social media. In addition, tools were provided in all 11 campaign markets to facilitate the decision-making process for the customer. The direct addressing of end users was enhanced by means of a new CRM system. Finally, a new concept for mobile booths was developed.

The  awareness of the Geberit AquaClean brand has increased significantly in all markets.

Close contact with plumbers and sanitary planners

The close contact with plumbers and sanitary planners remained a focus of marketing activities. The current, tried-and-tested market cultivation activities such as customer visits, training and the provision of technical documentation were continued. Geberit has been holding  “Geberit On Tour” events in various markets each year since 2011. The mobile exhibitions at local and regional wholesalers enable plumbers to experience new products and the advantages of Geberit products directly on site. Over 20,000 visitors were addressed at around 750 events in 15 countries in 2014. Such events not only took place in core markets such as Germany and Austria, but also in emerging markets such as South Africa and Israel.

Modern customer service

in order to be able to advise customers comprehensively and professionally, technical advisors in field service in 15 markets have now been equipped with iPads. This means that they can access all the relevant sales documentation online during sales discussions and also send it directly to the customer as required. Geberit has developed an app for its customers that makes it easier to find and order spare parts, among other features. By the end of 2014, this Geberit Pro App had been downloaded over 40,000 times since its launch in March 2013.

Trade fair presence as a tool for fostering customer contact

A large number of trade fairs again served as a suitable platform for Geberit to demonstrate its innovative power and simultaneously maintain and expand its network of contacts in the market in 2014. The most important trade fairs were those in Essen, Nuremberg and Hamburg, Swissbau in Basel, Batibouw in Brussels, Aquatherm in Vienna, Kitchen & Bath China in Shanghai and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. Architects and designers were addressed directly at the Salone del Mobile and the Fuori Salone in Milan, and also at the architect@work series of events taking place in various countries.

It is less the technical facts than the emotional and design aspects that count in communication with end users, designers and architects. Trend shows have established themselves as a suitable venue in this regard. For example, based on the positive experiences gained in previous years in Germany, the Swiss market of Geberit invited architects, sanitary planners, plumbers and wholesalers to a trend show in Baden (CH). Around 350 participants learned what the future holds in the area of bathroom design – and how Geberit is shaping these trends in terms of design and innovations.