ISH Frankfurt: Solutions for a Sustainable Future

27th March 2023
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CIL’s James de La Salle recently joined attendees at ISH Frankfurt, Europe’s leading HVAC trade fair. Here he walks us through his top three reflections from the conference:

1. “Home comfort and experience” has replaced the language of “plumbing and electrics”.

Historically, electricians had a defined remit within the home, plumbers had another. But with advances in technology, including smart tech and a demand for green initiatives, consumers are thinking less about individual components and more about integrated systems and interfaces.

They want it to include heating and cooling, while being greener, they want one provider to install it and they want one interface to control it. The language of plumbing & electrics and heating & cooling has been replaced by that of home comfort. This trend is reflected in the growing popularity of solar PV, electrified home, and whole home solutions, which were the hot topics of discussion at this year’s ISH event.

2. However, new technologies to meet new needs are bringing more complexity and fragmentation to the supply chain.

Despite the increasing demand for greener technologies, the incumbent European boiler manufacturers have been slow to respond with new products in growth channels. This lack of innovation, combined with international consumer distrust, has also put utility companies in a difficult position when it comes to expanding their services.

ISH showed that the large manufacturers are being surrounded by a growing number of providers and component markets. To stay ahead of the curve, major players are doing their best to consolidate and integrate in these new areas, but keeping up with the fast pace of change is a difficult task. As a result, we saw some large manufacturers showcasing their newly acquired smart and / or green systems at their stands, while others continue to trade on heritage.

With the market shifting towards more sustainable and integrated solutions, it’s crucial for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. By embracing innovation and adopting a more holistic approach to their offerings, companies can meet the needs of consumers.

3. The absence of some big European manufacturers from this year’s ISH event is a notable trend.

These manufacturers would typically spend over €1 million on displays to appeal to merchants, so their absence suggests a clear shift in strategy within the industry. They are redirecting their marketing budgets towards digital channels and away from merchant trade shows like ISH in order to sell integrated solutions to consumers and small trade. This has resulted in the development of enhanced websites and digital procurement channels, with approved subcontractor delivery models.

Let’s see if this is enough to maintain the dominance of the European heating giants, or if it is too little and too late in the face of shifting market forces. The ISH conference really highlighted the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in this conventionally mature and organised sector.

To find out more details on our latest research, please reach out to our Built Environment practice. 


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