Stephen Zouch, Managing Director, Intergas Boilers, discusses the increasing complexity of household products and questions whether this is satisfying a real consumer need or is merely the modern-day marketing equivalent of go-faster stripes.
It was only last year that McDonald’s ran a television campaign extolling the simplicity of their coffee offer. This was a fitting response to the high street coffee shops selling, among other combinations, an iced, half caff, ristretto, venti, four-pump, sugar free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte. But, as ridiculous as this might seem, they don’t hold the exclusive rights to OTT features, that accolade goes to manufacturers of household appliances who have loaded their products with every possible advance. Washing machines now have more functions than we have outfits; kettles can heat water to a choice of temperatures and toasters can handle bagels, crumpets and croissants as well as the odd slice of bread. And we all know we’re only using a small proportion of the functions on our mobile phones and computers IF we even know what they are. So, if we never use them, do we need them? Neil Mason, head of retail research at market research company Mintel, says that half of us are put off by too many controls and 70% of us are such creatures of habit we use the same wash cycle almost every time. "The innovation is obviously being driven by manufacturers' desire to add value and to differentiate themselves," says Mason. “But from a consumer's point of view, what they want is convenience and simplicity."
When it comes to the domestic boiler, the stream of new functions and add-ons appears endless too, but complex controls aren’t the best thing since sliced bread. Although Intergas has only been operating in the UK for ten years, it’s the simplicity of our boiler range that is of interest to more and more housing associations. Sam Southern, Managing Director of Taunton-based Falcon Rural Housing was particularly impressed by our restraint: “The simplicity of the controls means the customers are saving as much money on heating their homes and hot water as they could with some of the more complicated ‘Eco’ forms of heating that are currently on the market.”
Customers today are active hunters, not passive targets
And it’s the customer who counts. No longer passive targets, customers are active hunters, well informed about a product’s strengths and weaknesses than ever before and they’re not looking for the best price, they’re looking for the best customer experience, one that is targeted to their needs. A large percentage of that experience comes down to peace of mind; they need the reassurance that the product they buy is totally reliable, and we all know that the more complicated the boiler, the more likely it is that it will let you down. All Intergas boilers have only 12 components, including four moving parts, and the design of the two-in-one heat exchanger, which remains at the cutting edge of boiler technology since its launch over 20 years ago, means there’s no need for a diverter valve, valve motor, auto air vent or secondary hot water plate heat exchanger. Basically, all the parts that stick, leak and let you down aren’t there. We’ve been working with Les Finucane, Business Development Director of BSW Heating and with Ashford Borough Council, specifically because of our record of reliability. Speaking about this collaboration, Finucane, said: “Boilers these days just breakdown with increasing regularity and it makes sense to install boilers that are not going to let you down. From our initial experience, Intergas boilers are proving to be very reliable. And, with a life expectancy of between 15–17 years, this will improve the way properties are maintained.”
Intergas, like all manufacturers, is always moving forward. As a company we innovate and add product features that improve performance but always retain the simplicity. It’s our USP, but it takes a lot of engineering intelligence to be this uncomplicated. What you see is what you get – an energy efficient boiler that won’t let you down and there are no go-faster stripes in sight.