We're the ones with the switches – all over the world. Gira's Head of International Marketing, Christiane Fastenau, talks about the countries where Gira is active and how the pandemic has affected international markets in 2020.
Gira Editorial Team: Ms Fastenau, you look after 40 international markets in your area. Where do you see the greatest growth potential?
Fastenau: In Corona times, Gira can count on the historically well-developed markets, such as Austria or the Netherlands in particular. In addition, the Asian market recovered relatively quickly during the pandemic. An economically driven change is taking place here in particular, from which many foreign companies can profit. Many economic indicators already picked up again in China in the third quarter of 2020.
Gira Editorial Team: Are there particular products that are in higher demand in some countries than in others? Could you name some examples?
Fastenau: The Smart Home business field, in general, is a good growth driver in all markets. The Asian market in particular is very receptive to Smart Home solutions. However, the trend toward smart solutions is also increasing worldwide. This is due to the growing middle class and rising incomes.
The Gira G1 operating centre and the Gira X1 Smart Home server are currently very promising products in all markets. In England, for example, KNX-based Smart Home solutions still have a small market share. However, this share is growing steadily, as customers are increasingly opting for complete smart solutions - everything from a single source.
Gira Editorial Team: Are there products that are offered exclusively for certain countries?
Fastenau: This applies above all to socket outlets, because despite globalisation, most countries still have their own standard. In Belgium it's the CEBEC socket, in Poland it's the same and in Denmark it's SCHUKO, Cebec and Danish sockets. Great Britain uses the British Standard sockets and also relies on the Cooker Switch and Fused Spur Switch socket variants. Socket outlets for international systems are available with varying depth of range in all Gira switch ranges.
Gira Editorial Team: Are there products that are exclusively available in certain countries? And if yes, could you give some examples?
Fastenau: The markets don't have such a widespread in the product ranges – Germany is probably more the exception here. One example is the typical switch/SCHUKO combination. I hardly know of any other country where it would be common to install a switch and a socket in one frame.
It may happen that we do not meet the relevant country standards in individual markets. Then there can be deviations. This occurs, for example, with radio-based solutions, such as Gira eNet. The frequencies are sometimes already blocked by government agencies, or installation takes place in flush-mounted boxes that deviate from the European standard - rectangular instead of round - as is the case in the United Kingdom or Singapore. Then we look for solutions and adapt our range.
Gira editorial teamHow do you launch a product abroad? Which marketing measures do you typically put in place?
Fastenau: The measures are generally comparable to those on the German market. We use both classic media such as print as well as events, sponsoring, etc. This is done with a marketing strategy tailored to the market in terms of content, messages, target group approach. Ideally, an independent campaign is developed that is adapted to the country. Here, national and, of course, cultural differences have to be taken into account. Double dates such as 11.11, the so-called Bachelor's Day or Singles Day, always mean particularly strong Internet purchases in China – one needs to know that.
Gira editorial team: What are your international client relationships like? Do you notice cultural differences in your communication? To what extent are these apparent?
Fastenau: Our contacts are characterised by many years of cooperation; we maintain a collegial and sometimes friendly relationship. Perceiving and respecting cultural differences is the be-all and end-all - that is the basis for every good contact. Every country is very different in this respect. For some destinations, this already starts with the travel wardrobe, continues with the different ways of greeting cultures and extends to the different customs at the dinner table.
Every culture has its own individual character. Experiencing this diversity in international communication is fun and exciting.
Gira Editorial: What are the most important international industry events that Gira participates in?
Fastenau: Unfortunately, the pandemic has put travel to 2020 on hold to a large extent. The first and last international event was the Design Shanghai trade fair at the end of November. Here, one of the leading international design fairs in Asia took place, taking into account the hygiene and distance rules. We are very pleased that we were able to be there despite the difficult circumstances.
Gira Editorial Team: Many thanks for the interesting conversation and insights into your work!