Exclusive interview: trade show opening with RECARO
The international trade fair “Kind + Jugend” begins tomorrow, 14 September 2017. For four days, Cologne will become an international hub for the baby and toddler industry. In the area of pushchairs and children’s car seats, safety is a priority for parents, the industry’s core target group. But other criteria such as comfort, functionality, design, and brand are important too. CEO Ralf Kindermann from RECARO Child Safety provides interesting answers in this exclusive interview with Luna Journal.
Before buying a pushchair or a child’s car seat, many parents read test reports or scores on social networks. The test results influence the purchasing decision, but are not always decisive.
The consumer group Stiftung Warentest tests both products regularly (every two years). The published results are disseminated by numerous other print media and produce a relatively large media echo. If a pushchair or other product receives a negative score, the manufacturer often has to retrofit or face negative economic consequences due to falling sales figures. However, the manufacturers have different estimates of how the test results affect sales figures. Every manufacturer aims to achieve the best possible test results and to meet all international regulations and standards in order to survive on the most important markets inside and outside of Europe.
The market is fiercely competitive, which makes competitors all the more dependent on the innovation and reliability of their branded products.
Luna Journal: What do parents particularly value when purchasing child car seats?
Kindermann: Our target parents are looking for an optimal combination of quality, safety, ergonomics, and functionality, which adds up to an intuitive handling. An appealing and contemporary design also plays an important role.
What innovations (technical and otherwise) will your company offer this year and next?
This year, we are writing a new and, above all, innovative RECARO brand story under the overarching motto “Excellent Parenthood”. Core elements include, among other things, the combination of a previously rationally shaped brand with emotional components to build a holistic bond with parents. As a premium brand, we are performant, innovative, passionate, and approachable. We always communicate with our customers. We focus on urban, modern, and responsible parents, who are busy, curious, active, and progressive. These parents have a lot in common with our brand: They share our passion to develop steadily, without constraint and under our own initiative. RECARO is not only a brand for parents, but also for their children – especially in terms of ergonomics and safety. We accompany parents and their children in partnership through the first years together, making it a great experience for all: Excellent Parenthood.
As one of our highlights, we presented the world premiere of the Zero.1 Elite (i-Size) this year. It’s the first child seat to connect an ultralight carry cot (only 2.9 kg) to a fully-fledged group I child car seat. In addition, the Reboarder (suitable from birth to a height of 105 cm) can be turned to face the car door thanks to an elaborate 360-degree rotation function, which means it’s child’s play to get in or out (or to move Baby into and out of the carry cot). In addition, our Lightweight Buggy Easylife Elite will soon be available to buy with many new comfort features, as well as the Group II / III child seat Monza Nova Evo, with optional Seatfix connection.
For 2018, we are planning further exciting new products. RECARO is heading in a new direction, especially in the area of pushchairs.
In which markets inside and outside of Europe are you strongly represented? What is the role of production sites and sales markets in Asia, especially in China, for your company?
Apart from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the markets of France, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Benelux, and Poland also play an important role in Europe, particularly in terms of sales.
RECARO also enjoys an excellent global reputation as an international brand with German roots. The main market in terms of distribution is clearly China, not least because of a birth rate of 18 million per year. Then follow South Korea and Taiwan. Among other things, rising car ownership and incomes in the middle class in Asia are also contributing to the growing market potential.
On the subject of production sites: We focus on manufacturing in Germany and then export our products to the target countries. In addition, there are country-specific products that are produced in those countries, especially for the Asian markets – in RECARO quality, of course.
What are the important issues when exporting / importing your products?
First and foremost, it is important to check whether our products meet the country-specific standards and regulations. Here, the key is testing, testing, and testing again. In addition, there are customs-relevant provisions in terms of import and export, to which we must pay close attention. Beyond the rules and regulations, of course, we need to ensure that our products match the respective mentality of the countries; that is, that we know the needs of the target customers.
What are the safety guidelines in your sector? Which institutes do you work with to implement these guidelines?
Standards and safety guidelines play an important role, especially in the field of child car seats. RECARO is therefore committed to meeting the highest standards in the market: Euro NCAP, i-Size, ECE, CCC (China), to name a few examples. This is the result of the competent judgment of neutral test institutes (ADAC, TASS, TÜV, Dekra), with whom we cooperate intensively, and above all the fact that the safety of the youngest ones is very important to us.
Test results from Stiftung Warentest and other independent institutions always receive great attention from the public. How do positive or negative test results affect the sale and manufacture of your products?
As I said, one of our biggest objectives is to offer parents and their children the highest safety standards. This is why we rely on high-quality materials, invest consistently in improving our product technologies, and test our products, before they enter the market, on our in-house crash-test system and with external partners. Parents attach great importance to the results of independent institutions; they rely on their judgment. This is why RECARO naturally attaches great importance to achieving positive test results, which we have often achieved, as a logical consequence of our careful and innovative development work.
Negative results are never good. But the decisive factor is how to deal with retailers and end-consumers. It is important for us to communicate with both target groups as equals, always open, honest, trustworthy. And we are determined to act consistently in the interest of our customers and their children.