13. Product responsibility (PR)

13.1 Customer Health and Safety (PR)

Management Approach – Customer Health and Safety

For Geberit, high quality standards mean fulfilling customers’ requirements in terms of functionality, reliability and application safety to the greatest possible extent. The company is guided by the zero-error principle. Corporate Quality Management is responsible for ensuring that suitable framework conditions promote a quality culture throughout the company, and that all employees act in a quality-conscious and independent manner.

Products undergo a defined optimization process from the first draft. Product Development is responsible for ensuring that the products developed are safe and user-friendly, and that they comply with all standards and statutory requirements. As an independent department, Quality Management is responsible for defining, arranging and monitoring all necessary inspections to ensure that these requirements are met. A clear organizational distinction is drawn between development and quality management. In addition, many products are also examined by external authorization bodies.

Following market launch, an efficient handling of complaints with integrated error analysis, the initiation of sustained corrective measures and the continuous development of concepts for customer support takes place in cooperation with Sales, Production and Development. Geberit has achieved a high standard in the processing of complaints, and reacts directly and in a solution-oriented manner in each individual case.

When it comes to training its employees on Geberit products, competition, standards, industry or core topics, Geberit relies on a bundle of measures: These include a Group-wide e-learning platform rolled out in the fall of 2012 as well as global product training by specially trained instructors.

Product Development and Quality Management are responsible for customer health and safety.

G4-PR1 Health and safety impact along the product life cycle

Generally speaking, Geberit products and services involve low risks for customers in terms of health and safety. Geberit nevertheless adopts a preventive approach within the scope of its comprehensive quality planning in order to test and ensure the health and safety requirements of all products from development to certification, through manufacture and storage, to use and disposal. Among other things, Quality and Safety Management include an FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) as a precautionary measure to prevent errors and increase the technical reliability of products. Eco-design workshops are held in the course of product development in order to optimize the use of suitable and ecological materials. If the products or their use involve an increased risk to health or safety, Geberit’s technical editorial staff ensures that this is communicated appropriately to customers (see  G4-PR3).

G4-PR2 Non-compliance with health and safety regulations

Throughout the Group, there have been no court judgments or warnings against Geberit involving contraventions of regulations on the health and safety of products and services or product and service information.

13.2 Product and Service Labeling (PR)

Management Approach – Product and Service Labeling

Corporate Marketing is responsible for the labeling of products and services.

Conveying product and application information in accordance with standards and target groups is one of the main tasks of the Technical Documentation, a department of Group Marketing at Geberit. A comprehensive portfolio of various document types and publication channels is available for this purpose. In the area of assembly and installation, Geberit focuses on multicultural and generally understandable images comprising detailed illustrations and guiding symbols. On top of this, more far-reaching fundamental information is provided for the architect and engineer target groups via comprehensive handbooks and skills brochures. In addition, product and/or safety data sheets are available for each product and for all target groups.

The end user target group is becoming more and more important in the conveying of product information, as Geberit is offering this target group increasingly modern and innovative products. Geberit ensures safe handling and labeling in accordance with standards by means of detailed operating documentation based on the prevailing standards and laws.

At the forefront are around 500 technical advisors working in field service at the local sales companies. 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. Once again around 70,000 customers became more familiar with Geberit know-how and products in this way in 2014. 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, an increasing orientation towards end users requires the information to be tailored as specifically as possible to the different requirements of the target groups.

G4-PR3 Product labeling

Products involving the use of electricity, gas or dangerous substances – or those containing such substances – need to be appropriately labeled in accordance with the prevailing standards and laws. This includes providing information about the target group and its qualifications as well as the intended use and the existence of substances subject to labeling requirements. The distributor must publish this information in a national language of the target market in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations. Whenever possible, plastic components must feature material labeling in order to facilitate recycling.

In 2013, the European Commission formally agreed upon the criteria for an ecolabel aimed at reducing water consumption in European toilets. This label will be awarded to toilets that – in addition to fulfilling other requirements – use a maximum of five liters per toilet flush and therefore contribute to significantly reducing the average water consumption per toilet flush. The  WELL Label (Water Efficiency Label) introduced in 2011 by the European umbrella organization for valve manufacturers (EUnited) already provides incentives for exceeding these requirements. Of the nine Geberit product groups already certified, eight are represented in the A class and one in the B class. These product groups account for over 20% of Group sales. This water-efficiency label has been added to packaging and specified in the catalogs since 2013.

G4-PR4 Non-compliance with labeling requirements

In the reporting period, there were no known cases of violation of applicable laws or voluntary codes.

G4-PR5 Customer satisfaction

The Geberit concealed cistern celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. With 60 million cisterns sold to date, the plumbers, technical planners and wholesalers turned the innovation that Geberit introduced on the market in 1964 into a real success story. A whole series of events was held to mark the event. The 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 an outstanding meal and a creative stage show. A total of 3,800 guests attended. The gala evenings with their exceptional show elements were also a milestone for Geberit in terms of customer events. At the same time, they provided a dignified setting for Geberit to thank many customers for their years of loyalty.

A high degree of customer satisfaction in the regional markets is central to Geberit’s success. The AquaClean advertising campaign in a total of eleven markets was continued in 2014, including the systematic expansion of the marketing principles. These are also based on brand tracking studies for end users carried out in all eleven campaign 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 affected markets, the awareness of the product category and the perception of the Geberit AquaClean brand in particular have significantly increased since the start of the campaign – and the upward trend shows no signs of abating. The study reflects the success of market cultivation and the campaign in the individual markets. The intensive branding is thus proving a significant success factor for company growth.

In recent years, Geberit has built up a standardized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) process for all markets with the aim of further boosting customer satisfaction. Thanks to this system, which is specially tailored to Geberit, customers benefit from more targeted communication with the relevant contact persons. Since 2014, the CRM system has been gradually migrated to a new technological platform to enable a deeper integration into daily business processes.

For further information, see  Business Report > Business and financial review > Customers.

13.3 Compliance Product Responsibility (PR)

Management Approach – Compliance – Product Responsibility

See  Management approach customer health and safety and  chapter Society.

G4-PR9 Sanctions due to non-compliance with product liability regulations

No sanctions have been imposed in connection with Geberit products and services or their use.