Green buildings is a catch-phrase across the globe. As a result, there is also a growing awareness in India on energy efficiency in building solutions. The trend is touted to pick more momentum with markets becoming more responsible towards the environment. The heating and ventilation is one segment of building solutions that can contribute to energy savings – it’s matter of getting the solution right. One such solutions company which banks heavily on it’s technological prowess is the German-headquartered Stiebel Eltron GmbH. In an exclusive interaction with Buildingandinteriors.com, Mr.Sandeep Surana, Managing Director, Stiebel Eltron India Pvt.Ltd., talks about the company’s product offerings, technology and it’s projection on the India market.
B&I: How has the Indian market responded to solutions from Stiebel Eltron in each of the categories the company is present in?
SS: Stiebel Eltron GmbH is a German company established in 1924 and is headquartered in Holzminden, Germany. Stiebel Eltron India is a subsidiary of Stiebel Eltron GmbH, and has it’s head-office in Pune. As a company, we are into Hot Water Solutions, Renewables, Space Heating and Ventilation. In essence, we see ourselves contributing to the green buildings. Demographically, India is a huge country with varied climatic conditions. With our long history and a detailed product range, we have a big advantage in offering solutions for every climatic zone. This puts Stiebel Eltron in a very good position from the consumer perspective – we give him a product with superior technology from Germany.
B&I: What is the distribution model for the company? Which parts of the markets have been tapped and which are the next focus regions for Stiebel Eltron?
SS: Stiebel Eltron India has a mixed model of Distribution and Retail. Within a short span of 3 years since incorporation, we have established an extensive partnership network across India with prominent presence and space at leading channel partners showrooms and display spaces in Tier I and tier II cities. The next focus would be to extend the network to Tier III and Tier IV cities and to be able to pass benefit of a superior product to the end consumers living in far-flung parts of India.
B&I: As a green buildings solution provider in the HVAC segment, which brands do you compete with? What are the challenges for a brand like yours’? What are the warranties that you provide with your solutions?
SS: The products designed and engineered by Stiebel Eltron are unique in their own ways. This means that technologically, we don’t think of other brands as competition. There is a market for every technology as India is a huge market. Stiebel Eltron makes highly engineered products. The technology, safety and design advancements in our products makes them priced slightly higher than the other solutions in the market. The price, than, sometimes becomes an ‘explainational challenge’. But we have customers who are able to understand and appreciate our products and that’s the reason on our making steady progress in India. And on top of that, we provide a 5-year warranty for our products.
B&I: How do you see the project business? Which project connects (Architects, MEP, HVAC do you tap for selling in projects?
SS: Project Business for Stiebel Eltron currently comprises one-third of the total turnover and we plan to increase this part of the pie. Inspite of the prevelant business scenarios, we are seeing a robust growth in our project business year-on-year. This is a clear indication that there is still a growing demand that needs to be fulfilled. In the project business, Plumbing Consultants are our main focus but there has been an interesting shift and we see more involvement from the Architects and the Designers. Of course, achieving the objective of green buildings is everyone’s concern and Stiebel Eltron specialises in these solutions in the HVAC segment.
B&I: What is your value proposition for a specifier?
SS: Our value proposition for the specifier is the credibility of our product. Stiebel Eltron products last for a long time giving its customers value for money. We also have a strong established network of technical services support team capable of troubleshooting quickly & effectively ensuring better customer experience and satisfaction. Energy efficiencies and contribution to green buildings is our biggest value proposition.
B&I: As a green buildings solutions company in the HVAC segment, how do you educate the specifiers and installers?
SS: Prior to the lock down, we used to have regular, interpersonal training & knowledge sharing sessions of our new launches or product updates with our specifiers and installers. We also engaged in joint training and seminars with Consultant bodies and associations. The same is now done over video conferencing, zoom sessions and one-to-one virtual meetings. We are also utilising technology to keep our specifier and installer community updated.
B&I: Good water quality is essential for solutions connected with the plumbing. Are there any features in your solutions that take care of variable water quality?
SS: This has to be looked at in two ways. We are essentially an electrical product company. For all home water needs, our products come with pre-set features to adapt to various water quality parameters and also our team makes aware during pre-installation phase of the water quality requirements. However, for drinking water, we have a special product called Stream 5S. With this product, our customers can get their daily dose of essential minerals. Since the water quality may vary from one location to another, this product always supplies the same output of safe drinking water by adding all the essential minerals that may be missing in the inlet water supply.
B&I: Covid19 has played havoc with businesses worldwide. What are your post-Covid19 strategies for Stiebel Eltron India? Any special product launches for that market?
SS: Like many Industry peers, we at Stiebel Eltron, have realised the need of the hour- Socio-distancing working to further business. The whole business methodology has changed. What was essential, has now become a luxury and vice-a-versa. Work from home is the new norm for non-sales operations, which optimises operational costs. Stiebel Eltron India with its employees’ support has further adapted and strengthened this cause.
We have products with special focus on safety and hygiene. Take the example of our mini Instantaneous water heater. This product is used under the kitchen counter provided endless hot water which is helpful for washing cookware, vegetables and fruits as it neutralises harmful germs and microbes. The HTE 4 instantaneous hand dryer is a great option for workplaces & organisations, where one can maintain personal hygiene by keeping hands dry and clean without any noise. For Instant pure water, we have Stream 5s, one can get all the essential minerals in a glass of water, when it becomes difficult to step out for sunlight every day.
B&I: How do you see your marketing communication – with specifiers, channel partners, customers and business audience at large change in the post-Covid19 times?
SS: Stiebel Eltron India has increased its presence on digital and online platforms. And, we use the best available means to connect with its target audience during these challenging times. As we all know, there has been a paradigm shift from the conventional marketing methods to integrated online marketing strategies. This is visible across digital social media platforms addressing different age groups of consumers and target audience. For direct engagement, Stiebel Eltron team uses various video conferencing apps for online meetings with the architects, designers and consultants. And we communicate the message by using available e-marketing tools for awareness and training programs.
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