A Polarised Window Market Doesn’t Have to Mean Bad News

There’s little doubt that we’re seeing a growing polarisation in the window market – with sales of premium products to affluent householders growing much more quickly than sales of standard alternatives in the more mainstream sector.

The recent figures from AMA Research’s report into the UK Door and Window Fittings market certainly indicate that high value, high security hardware products are considerably outperforming standard mass market products, and the latest Palmer Report again emphasised how market growth is being driven by high end products.

If you’re a fabricator or installer, the received wisdom now seems to be that the only place to position your business for growth is in this premium sector, promoting products like high end composite doors, flush fitting sashes and aluminium bi-folds to customers who are more likely to be older homeowners with more disposable income and less focus on price.

It’s difficult to argue with that strategy when you see the figures broken down, but there are still an awful lot of fabrication and installation businesses in the UK whose entire business model is based around targeting the mass market, and who see no reason to give up on that any time soon.

It’s true that their customers may be younger, able to spend less and certainly more price focused, but those ‘squeezed middle’ buyers still represent a significant chunk of the window and door buying public, and I think it’s a mistake to dismiss the opportunities they present.

As I see it, the mass market itself might not be growing, but there is still lots of potential for fabricators and installers to grow their own share of that if they can reduce costs, improve efficiency and get their sales and marketing approach right. It’s all about maximising the value they can offer at every point in the buying process, without of course sacrificing their own sustainable margins.

Crucially of course, they need to be offering value without compromising on quality – mass market buyers may be price conscious, but they are quite rightly no less demanding.

That’s the reason why Mila offers ‘good, better, and best’ versions of so many of our hardware products, so that we can allow customers to choose the specification level which is right for whichever sector they are targeting and still benefit from the core Mila strengths of quality and value.

It is true that the ‘good’ versions of our products are extremely cost effective, but that’s because we have a highly efficient and quality focused supply chain, and not because we cut corners.

Even our everyday white cockspur handles, for example, come with a 10 year mechanical operating warranty and a 10 year warranty on the painted finish; and our entry level letter boxes come with a 5 year guarantee on performance.

Fabricators and installers who choose to fit Mila know that they won’t be called back to repairs and remedials, which means they won’t risk damage to their reputation or brand and they won’t see their precious margins eroded by call backs. Surely, it’s a false economy to save just a few pence on a handle from a cheaper competitor if it will cost a lot more than that to fix when it fails?

Mila customers also, of course, benefit from our brand recognition across the industry and that all adds to our value proposition. We enjoy our own hard earned reputation for quality and reliability, which means that when trade and retail customers see a Mila product fitted, they can see the added value in that.

We recognise that times are tough in the highly competitive mass market at the moment, but fabricators and installers can give themselves a better chance by choosing suppliers like Mila who are committed to working in partnership with them to provide the products and the service they need to stay ahead.

All of our ‘good, better and best’ products are showcased in our new Key 8 catalogue, which is itself available to view and download from our brand new website at www.mila.co.uk

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