Volume 8, Issue 5 - May 2007
from the Publisher
Itís All in the Messageóand the
When a ground-breaking product is introduced, as was the case in 2001 when low-maintenance glass came on the scene, it gets a lot of fanfare. This was true as both this publication, and DWMís sister publication, USGlass, covered low-maintenance glass* in-depth.
In the subsequent years, other glass companies threw their hats into the low-maintenance ring and we featured these in our magazine. Then the years went by and not much was written about this product group, in this or any other publication. And itís not because we werenít asking about it. Even as we walk through window manufacturing plants, low-maintenance glass is never mentioned.
Why? This is the question DWM assistant editor Sarah Batcheler went on a quest for answers when she began her in-depth feature on low-maintenance glass for this issue.
What I found most fascinating about her discussions with window manufacturers is this: Most say these products havenít been successful due to delivery of the message, in other words, the way it is presented, the facts set out, etc. For example, it is difficult for a window dealer to demonstrate the productís effectiveness in a home. And, the benefits of low-maintenance glass often get lost in translation between the window manufacturer and the dealer.
Glass manufacturers say the key is presenting this product in the right fashion. Sounds easy, but itís not. One window manufacturer said his dealers were telling homeowners they never have to clean the glass again which the window manufacturer knows is not true. Then why is this message being conveyed? Is the window manufacturer not doing a good job of passing this message to the dealer or is the dealer just not listening? A good bet is that it is a combination of both.
To make matters worse, some of the glass manufacturers are sending mixed messages. While one glass manufacturer is quick to point out that the product does not truly clean itself, its website contains references to self-cleaning glass. So itís no surprise that the message is muddled by the time it gets to the homeowner. After all the message has traveled from the glass manufacturer to the window manufacturer to the dealer then the most important partyóthe homeowner and window purchaser.
In the case of new home construction, the message must travel from the glass manufacturer to the window manufacturer to the builder, to the builderís sales agents (which there may be many), to the homeowner. With an extra step in this chain itís that much harder to control the message. But, this product does have potential in the new home market. As someone currently building a home I know that there are pages and pages of upgrades you can add to a home. Why not add low-maintenance glass to the list? Many may not buy it as heated floors or stainless steel appliances may be more attractive to them. Some will chose the option whether it is the aging population, or people who hate cleaning windows. Hereís where the communication comes in. While the average person knows what a stainless steel appliance is they donít know what low-maintenance glass is, so this one will need some explanationóa clear one of which all members of the supply chain are aware. And for those who do opt for this upgrade, no doubt word of mouth will aid in future sales of this type of glass.
Whether itís low-maintenance glass, a new glass that protects furniture from fading, or a new type of hardware itís all about the message. Remember that you can have a revolutionary product to sell but never realize its success if itís not sold properly. On the other hand, a product not as unique could enjoy widespread success due to a company that has crafted a clear message and ensured its clarity throughout the supply chain.
I hope this message came through crystal clear.
* Our company, Key Communications Inc., uses the term low maintenance for all types of low-maintenance glass, self-cleaning, etc.