The need to be seen as different has never been so important as it is right now. The recession, combined with the educational power of the internet has forced us all as an industry to sit up and take note at how much more savvy today’s homeowner is compared to 20 years ago.


During the recession years, we were all advised to show ourselves as being different. To expand our product portfolios to add potential new revenue streams to help our businesses survive. So diversify we did. Research and development departments got to work in a grand way. The last five or six years has probably seen the most market research and surveys done than in any other time. And it has led to a raft of new products and innovations, all launched during a period where the British economy has flirted with the edges of disaster. It is this environment which has led to the uber-competitive industry we see now.

All the time I am looking at tweets and emails from a plethora of small, medium and large manufacturers and systems companies who have all spent varying amounts of time, money and resources to bring to market “new” and “innovative” products. The pace of innovation has been relentless for this past half decade and I think most might agree that the amount of choice right now is immense…probably too immense.

Thinking Like A Homeowner

Lets take a step back and try and put ourselves in the shoes of the homeowner. I am now in the market to replace my windows and doors. I go to Google and type in “windows and doors Wakefield”. Up comes page after page of companies vying for my attention, telling me their range of windows and doors are the best quality, or best price etc. If I start to do some research, my mind is going to very quickly become tangled up in the vast array of brands, product options and hardware. It wasn’t this difficult last time I bought windows!

If some of us are finding the amount of choice available difficult to understand, imagine the difficulty experienced by someone from outside the industry. And that is where this fracturing of our industry, the extreme diversification of our product ranges is going to throw spanners in the works.

Education Key

Education is going to be only way to help guide homeowners along with their purchase. If they decide to go on your company website, is it easy for them to understand what all the product options are, and what brand they belong to? The same goes with systems companies and fabricators. Do their installation customers understand their whole product portfolio and the options available for them? I bet a lot don’t. I know I don’t know all my options.

So simplifying the whole process and helping to guide customers along each step is going to be the only way to make sure all the information we want to get across does so. For some, this has been lost in the energy used to bring new products to market so regularly. It is very easy to get caught up in developing and manufacturing something new, without taking the time to back it up with marketing literature, pricing support, technical support etc.

Fracturing Will Get Worse

Competition to be different out there is fierce, and it’s not going to stop. The industry isn’t like it was a couple of decades ago, where choices were limited and the job of selling was a lot simpler. New products and innovations are being brought to market like never before, and I suspect that this is going to be the pattern for the foreseeable future.

Planning is what we need to remember. If we’re going to continue to innovate at an immense rate, are we doing enough to help educate the homeowner on what they’re actually looking at and why it makes a good purchase? Are we doing enough to support installation companies who are at the sharp end with enough information and guidance to help launch and sell the product well. I think in both these cases a lot can do better. Not enough planning and support is being created to help back up new product launches. I can tell you that it is highly irritating to a sales person and their installation company when a new product is launched and there are gaps in product knowledge and technical detail.

The market is fractured, and will become more fractured in the coming years. This isn’t a bad thing, provided the information and education is there to back everything up.