Brand harmonisation completed
Following the replacement of the Keramag brand with Geberit in the key markets Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium as well as in several Eastern European countries in the previous year, the brand harmonisation continued in three further markets in 2020. In more than 2,000 showrooms, over 25,000 ceramic sanitary appliances from the brands Allia (France), Pozzi-Ginori (Italy) and Sphinx (the Netherlands) were replaced with Geberit products. Thanks to strong partnerships with wholesalers and intensive preparations, it was possible to complete this brand harmonisation in 2020. The associated streamlining of the brand portfolio affected almost all areas of the company – including production and logistics, master data management, marketing and the sales organisations.
Focusing on the strong Geberit brand – a brand that is firmly established in the sanitary industry – has numerous advantages. Foremost among these are the concentration of marketing activities, the simplification of production and logistics, and the consolidation of product information. Additionally, in Italy, for example, almost all supplied showrooms were visited by the sales organisation as part of the brand switch. As a result, it was possible to significantly enhance the presentation of the Geberit products by using new showroom modules and demonstrating product combinations in front of and behind the wall.
Significantly increased presence with customers
As before, a significant share of the varied marketing activities is targeted at plumbers and sanitary engineers. This especially applies to the ongoing, personalised and frequently project-related support given to installation companies and planning offices by technical advisors and other sales representatives.
In all markets, it was difficult to carry out face-to-face customer visits in the reporting year as a result of the lockdowns and restrictions enforced due to COVID-19. Accordingly, the sales organisations quickly and consistently used digital visit and meeting formats in addition to increased contacts over the phone. Despite a drop of around one-fifth in face-to-face customer visits, this resulted in a 9% increase in overall contacts (including phone calls and video conferences). The goal of being there for customers and offering all-round support in their work at all times – even in these difficult times – was thus met. The significantly intensified customer relationships in the year under review were also reflected in the fact that the number of e-newsletters sent out rose by 120% to 4.1 million and the number of hits on Geberit's worldwide websites increased by 48% to 25.0 million. For more information on marketing and sales aspects in connection with COVID-19, see the section Geberit and COVID-19.
Standardised product data for wholesalers
In order to ensure that trading partners can process product and marketing information from Geberit in an efficient and structured way and present this in their portals, the corresponding data has been adapted to meet ETIM (Electro-Technical Information Model) standards. This meant the product data for more than 20,000 items had to be revised.
In addition to well-structured product information, the availability of products is of prime importance for wholesalers. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Geberit was able to maintain a very high level of delivery capability at all times.
Digital tools for sanitary engineers and plumbers
Digital skills in customer support and sales promotion were further expanded, with the aim of developing and launching digital tools as efficiently as possible and according to the needs of the respective target groups.
As before, the support of BIM was given a high priority here. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an interdisciplinary planning method for optimising the entire planning and building process. Architects, sanitary engineers and building owners use BIM to share information efficiently. This helps them to avoid planning errors and improve productivity, which brings advantages in major construction projects in particular. For a number of years now, an in-house Geberit team has been providing BIM users with support in the form of product data and calculation modules. A special plug-in has been developed for the Revit planning software, which gives sanitary engineers direct access to compact 3D models and corresponding planning parameters that are always kept up to date. The small size of the individual files allows them to be used efficiently. Following the roll-out for the most important product categories in the first markets in autumn 2019, the plug-in is now available worldwide and has already been downloaded over 4,000 times by planning and engineering companies.
A digital specification tool has been developed to offer even better support to architects, sanitary engineers and plumbers when planning and configuring bathrooms. It is used to assist the specialists in selecting the right products for a customer-specific project, from the installation and sanitary technology all the way through to the various bathroom products. Additionally, a new tool for industrial applications supports planners and engineers in the specification and dimensioning of the Mapress metallic piping system.
Successful digital education and training offer
As a result of the restrictions enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only possible to provide around 27,000 (previous year 35,000) professionals with face-to-face training on products, tools, software tools and installation skills at the 29 Geberit information centres in Europe and overseas. However, this was more than compensated for by a wide range of webinars and alternative training formats. Whereas webinars were visited by just 2,000 specialists in the previous year, there were around 52,000 participants at these online training courses in the reporting year. Additionally, the range of in-house digital training courses was expanded and saw widespread use by employees. For more information on training aspects in connection with COVID-19, see the section Geberit and COVID-19.
Digital alternatives to trade fairs
With the exception of Swissbau, which took place in January in Basel (CH), all national and international trade fairs were cancelled in the reporting year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Geberit responded quickly to this development. For example, with the cancellation of the SHK – which was planned for mid-March in Essen (DE) – the German sales organisation decided to offer trade professionals a virtual 360° visit to its planned booth. A similar approach was taken in Spain, where the Casa Decor in Madrid (ES) – a renowned trade fair for interior design – was cancelled to visitors. Here too, the local sales company offered the interested professional audience the opportunity of visiting the Geberit booth online.
At the same time, Geberit also developed a virtual showroom that can be tailored to the needs of the individual markets with relative ease. These showrooms offer a good overview of the wide range of products and new products in the respective market. They also provide additional information in the form of short videos, graphics and links, and offer visitors the opportunity of tailoring their own showroom experience. The first virtual showrooms went live in the second quarter of the reporting year and have already been visited by over 30,000 customers. For more information on digital trade fair aspects in connection with COVID-19, see the section Geberit and COVID-19.
Increasing focus on the end user
Following its launch in autumn of the previous year in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the end user campaign “Better bathrooms, better lives” was rolled out in a further 12 European markets in the reporting year. Increasing the level of communication with end users is a key step in a long-term strategy of firmly establishing the Geberit brand among users.
The campaign consists of three digital elements: an advertising campaign in digital media, the websites of the local sales companies and a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Nowadays, a large majority of potential end users first take inspiration online before visiting a specialist showroom. As a consequence, the Geberit websites are continually enriched with new inspirations, information and digital tools that are both relevant and helpful for the end user. Potential customers are made aware of the websites by a campaign in digital media. They then receive additional advice and support from qualified specialists after they register in the CRM system. In the reporting year, the campaign generated over 2.5 million sessions on the corresponding websites and 17,000 end user registrations in the CRM system.
Targeting customers via social media
The social media presence was further expanded and intensified in the reporting year. In addition to employer branding, the focal points included increased sales support. The target groups here were professional decision-makers and end users, who were addressed with targeted advertising formats and editorial content. Geberit used the most popular social media channels for these activities and informed the constantly growing communities through the local marketing teams and the Group on Facebook (295,000 followers), Instagram (102,000 followers), YouTube (58,000 followers / 34.6 million views), LinkedIn (73,000 followers), Twitter (17,000 followers) and Pinterest (4,000 followers).
Campaign for shower toilets continued
The advertising campaign for AquaClean shower toilets launched in 2018 was continued in the reporting year and again met with a positive response in all 15 campaign markets. As a result of event cancellations due to COVID-19, there were only limited opportunities for the mobile test options – the Geberit AquaClean truck, mobile AquaClean WC lounges and the AquaClean trailers – in the reporting year. In contrast, the “Test at home” campaign continued to prove popular in its four markets. As part of this campaign, potential customers are given the chance to try out a shower toilet at home for free. In most cases, the interested parties wanted to keep their installed Geberit AquaClean beyond the trial period. Another campaign is the test set, which was successfully piloted on the Swiss market. The set can be connected temporarily with an existing WC ceramic appliance in just a few steps and without tools, and removed again easily. It can be tested out free of charge for 14 days, and is sent out and returned by post.
The international sales initiative for hotels again made encouraging progress. Additional prestigious hotel projects were acquired in the reporting year, including the Art House in Basel (CH) and the Mandarin Oriental in Munich (DE). The number of four- and five-star hotels equipped with AquaClean shower toilets in Europe is now far in excess of 500.
The webshop developed by Geberit for shower toilet consumables (cleaning and descaling agent, replacement filters for odour extraction units, etc.) is now live in five markets.