Traditionally, the ISH has been the biannual forum for the European heating industry to showcase product innovations and new business strategies. The big five in Europe – Bosch Thermotechnik with its brands Buderus and Junkers, Viessmann, Vaillant, Ariston and its Elco brand, and BDR Thermea with its brands Remeha, Brötje and De Dietrich – welcomed tens of thousands of installers to the international five-day business-to-business fair in Frankfurt, Germany, at the beginning of March 2017. They chose two entirely different ways of presenting the new generation of heating solutions: Viessmann and Junkers focused on online marketing and sales, whereas Vaillant and Buderus favoured system integration. “Easy selling” reads the exhibition wall at the booth of Junkers (see photo), where the new online marketing tool was shown to attendees.
In September 2016, Roger Hackstock returned as Managing Director of Austria Solar after having already occupied this position between 2002 and 2013. In the three years that he was not at the helm of the Austrian industry association, Hackstock published a book on the “Energiewende” (energy transition), worked as programme manager for the country’s Climate and Energy Fund and coordinated the Storage initiative as an independent consultant. During our interview, he spoke about the challenges solar heat has had to face over the years, as market demand for system solutions is steadily on the rise, and noted that he was happy to support the industry in this new era.
The German solar thermal market is still stuck in recession. Although incentives are higher than they have ever been, demand has not really picked up over the first five months of this year, according to the market statistics by the two associations BSW Solar and BDH. The total collector area sold until the end of May was again down by 5.3 % compared to the previous year, although vacuum tubes have been more strongly affected by the slump (-18 %) than flat plate collectors (-4 %). Installers are viewed as the bottleneck in the supply chain and an increasing number of solar thermal suppliers have run advert campaigns to try and reach end customers on their own. Solarthermalworld.org has already reported on the new end-customer sales strategies employed by Thermondo. This article describes how the campaigns of another German system supplier, Sonnenkraft, have changed over the years. The image depicts an advertisement for the campaign from 2005 (left) and one from 2015 (right).
Start-up Thermondo, based in Berlin, Germany, has turned the tables on sales and planning methods for home heating systems. Not only does the company generate its turnover online, it also leaves most of the planning for heating installations to a computer algorithm called “Manfred”. Surprisingly, Philipp Pausder, one of the two managing directors of Thermondo, said that the most important outcome of the new strategy wasn’t low prices but great service. The photo shows Thermondo’s three founding members (from left): Philipp Pausder, Florian Tetzlaff and Kristofer Fichtner.