Visiting HIGIEXPO 2012 in Curitiba, Brazil, INCLEAN consulting editor Alan Hardcastle met Peter Hug, managing director of EUnited Cleaning, the European Association of Cleaning Machines Manufacturers. Here, Hug proffers his views on exhibitions, market developments and association work in Europe.
The HIGIEXPO took place for the 22nd time and in parallel to the WFBSC world conference for building service contractors. The show, in combination with the conference, was a perfect platform for the cleaning industry to gather and see and hear about the latest trends in cleaning technology.
Markets for cleaning technologies have been performing rather differently in 2012. While Germany, Russia and Scandinavia are doing well and even China is still on a growth path, markets in the Mediterranean region like Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece are extremely sluggish. Turkey is an exception in the area although experts had foreseen a stronger pace for 2012.
Talking about exhibitions and market penetration in general, there are four major points to take into account.
Firstly, the total size of the machinery, tools and cleaning chemicals markets; secondly, the level and speed of innovation; and thirdly, the importance of machinery, tools and chemicals for the cleaning contractor in terms of shares of his total cost.
Based on these key points the development of a marketing strategy looks very different in individual markets. The fourth point is labour cost. Labour costs play a vital role in all market scenarios. While we see minimum wages in some developed countries, the cleaning industry is facing cheap labour cost in most less developed economies.
In countries with cheap labour cost the use of machinery can only be cost efficient if machinery was used by skilled staff and for long hours every day. The quality of the cleaning result might be another reason for using machinery instead of more labour. Thus, a cleaning contractor’s management must be interested not only in buying a machine at a reasonable price but in skill development so that equipment is operated more efficiently.
In developed markets like Europe or the US, machinery accounts for 2 to 5 percent of the total cost of a cleaning contractor. Machinery might therefore not be in the focus of the cleaning contractors’ interest. But there must be an overall interest in how to perform the individual cleaning process and its quality including all factors like staff, machinery, chemicals, water and energy.
In developed countries sustainability issues play a more important role as well. Not only when it comes to environmental aspects but also when corporate social responsibility is part of the sustainability concepts of large scale cleaning contractors. Therefore, machinery is used also to make the cleaner’s work easier.
Concepts for market penetration must keep those topics in the focus to aim directly at the customers’ needs and find his interest. Exhibitions might in this sense be a perfect strategy for some of the markets. For other markets, and especially for developing economies with a small existing population of machinery, the go-to-market strategy might better be different.
EUnited Cleaning is discussing these issues internally like other associations do for their industries. The key question is how to bring the messages across to the customers under different framework conditions.
Within EUnited, the national European associations meet frequently in the so-called National Associations’ Panel. Most of the relevant stakeholders sit around the table to find solutions for the individual scenarios. EUnited’s major focuses include technical and standardisation issues as well as advocacy topics.