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Gira is global, but every country is unique

G-Pulse Editorial Team: You manage 38 international markets. Where do you see the greatest growth potential?

Fastenau: Some markets show a greater growth potential than others, such as Asian markets, but also markets that experienced a more conventional, long-term development path like Austria and the Netherlands. Some markets also benefit from the geopolitical situation in other countries. This can currently be observed in Spain, where the hotel sector shows a stronger development since less tourists are travelling to Turkey.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Are there particular products that are in higher demand in some countries than in others? Could you name some examples?

Fastenau: The business area KNX is a key growth driver in all markets. But, the area Smart Building shows a remarkably high growth in China. This is due to the increasing middle class and related income levels.

In these markets, the products G1 and X1 show much promise. In the UK, KNX still has a smaller market share, which is nevertheless growing steadily because of a rising consumer interests in holistic building solutions.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Are there any product that are exclusively available in certain countries? And if yes, could you give some examples?

Keup: This mostly applies to sockets. Despite globalization, most countries still adhere to their own standards. Belgium has the CEBEC socket, Poland the dto, the UK uses the British standard sockets, the Danes SCHUKO, Cebec, and Danish sockets. In the UK we additionally use the cooker switch or the fused spur socket. All of Gira’s switch assortments offer sockets for international systems.

The international Gira Team

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Does your product assortment vary across countries and to what extent does this vary from what is offered to the German market?

Fastenau: The assortments do not diverge so much across markets – but Germany is the exception. An example is the typical switch/SCHUKO combination. I do not know of any other country where it is customary to install a switch and a socket in one frame.

It can happen that we do not meet the norms of some countries. This can lead to a divergence. An example of this are wireless products like eNet. The frequencies are sometimes blocked by governmental bodies or for installation other fuse boxes need to be used – e.g. square instead of round, like in the UK or Singapore. In these situations, we have to find solutions and adjust our assortment accordingly.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: How does a market introduction abroad differ from how this is usually done for the German market? Which criteria are important to consider?

Keup:The market introductions are partly taken from Germany but then adjusted to the specific country-context. However, first we need to identify the potential, research market prices, competition, opportunities, threats, and possible distribution channels. There are lots of differences here that need to be taken into account.

Local producers often have clear price benefits or are already as well-established in the market as Gira is in Germany. We pinpoint our USPs and focus on these. In China, for example, there are no installation technicians the way we have in Germany. Additionally, such installation technicians tend to always use the same products, usually from their own country. As a result, we depend on the collaboration with and support of importers. Because of this, end-consumers and architects have been a core focus of ours.

International Gira products and showrooms

G-Pulse Editorial Team How do you launch a product abroad? Which marketing measures do you typically put in place?

Fastenau: The marketing tools are usually the same – advertisements, commercials, etc. – however, the weighting can vary because each country has their own online platforms, language, and target groups. Ideally, a country-specific campaign is developed, customized to national and cultural specificities. On special calendar dates, such as on the so-called Bachelor’s Day on 11-11, internet purchases boom in China. This is something you need to know when you are, for instance, implementing a shop on one of the eCommerce sites Tmall or

G-Pulse Editorial Team: You travel a lot for your job. What do you do when you are on the road?

Keup: I visit trade fairs and events, I have meetings to plan marketing activities with importers, and I have appointments with agencies or publishers.

Sometimes I also visit building sites and talk to the architect. During my stay, I always try to get a general idea of the country and want to find out how marketing is done there. For this, I usually walk through the streets, take pictures, see which exhibitions and media there is, and I research which collaborations would be possible. Sometimes I come across things that are unknow to us in Europe and are quite unusual.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: What are your international client relationships like? Do you notice cultural difference in your communication? To what extent are these apparent?

Fastenau: We usually have very close and friendly relationships. Appreciating cultural differences is of vital importance – it’s the foundation for every good relationship. Every country is unique in this respect.

International industry events

For some travel destinations, this already starts when packing your suitcase. In Qatar or India, you should dress in a more covered-up manner, whereas in Spain the dress code is very casual. Also, the way you greet each other varies from country to country.

In some countries, you kiss on the cheek when you meet – one, two, or three times. In China, blowing your nose at the dinner table is not welcomed but burping and snuffling are. In some countries, you first talk about family or show pictures of your children before discussing business. With Scandinavians you should have a drink, the Russians love vodka. This is also part of business. Our Muslim clients receive an annual greeting card for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan. In this way, every relationship is different and always exciting.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: What are the most important international industry events that Gira participates in?

Fastenau: In January, Gira was at the imm cologne. Here, Gira presented the latest innovations in intelligent building technology. Other important events are: the WAF (World Architecture Festival) in Berlin, Hi-Tech Building in Moskau, Casa Decor in Madrid, Powerdays in Salzburg, 100% Design in London, and of course, the trade fair Light & Building, which takes place every two years in Frankfurt – this year from March 18 to 23.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Many thanks for the interesting conversation and insights into your work!

Did you come across any cultural differences on your travels? Exchange experiences with other readers here.

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