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The hardware industry is also benefiting from the baby boom in Germany. Product development in the hardware market is strongly influenced by the rise in births and the growth of parents in their mid-thirties. Today’s parents attach increasing importance to high-quality premium products when equipping their children. Luna Journal spoke with individual hardware manufacturers about the innovations for 2019 and how important quality and safety tests are for the industry.
“Today’s parents get their children later and later and they become a kind of status symbol. Of course, the parents only want the best for their child and that in all aspects, both in terms of safety, as well as the sustainability and naturalness of the products. The parents’ objective is for the products to meet these requirements for their children,” says Katharina C. Hamma, Managing Director of Koelnmesse GmbH.
According to Rainer Stäbler, Managing Director EMEA, Britax Römer, the topic of sustainability is also increasingly coming to the fore with parents: “The growing interest of end consumers in sustainability and increasing environmental awareness is definitely having a major influence on the trends. The topics of chemistry and pollutants are also playing an increasingly important role. This is why we at Britax Römer decided several years ago to manufacture all our child seat covers in Europe, from yarn to the finished product, so that we can monitor and control the entire process. In addition, we can improve our CO2 balance through shorter transport distances”.
In addition to the properties of quality, safety, user-friendliness and sustainability, the aesthetics of hardware products are becoming increasingly relevant. Child seats and pushchairs are now part of the lifestyle category, which is supposed to adapt to the individual ideas of parents.
Michael Neumann, Managing Director Northern Europe at Dorel Juvenile, explains: “Parents today have very high expectations of the added value of product innovations: They should make life easier, always be available when they are needed and adapt optimally to changing life situations. Accordingly, there is a trend towards multifunctional, flexible products that grow with people and support a mobile lifestyle. Another trend that will have a long-term impact on the hardware market is intelligent products that emit warning signals, communicate with parents’ smartphones or are equipped with pre-crash systems, for example.
Technical developments on the hardware market
In the future, hardware manufacturers will offer even more user-friendly and compact products. In the longer term, future-oriented products will increasingly come to the fore, especially in the child seat segment. These include, for example, child seats that communicate with parents or the vehicle via the smartphone and send warning signals. In addition, there are plans to install voice modules in child seats. In addition, child seats will be equipped with pre-crash systems that can predict an accident and automatically react to hazards by taking appropriate measures. For example, the inclination of the seat changes if there is a risk of an accident.
“In the area of child seat safety, development has progressed so far that the seat automatically checks whether the child is correctly anchored in the seat and whether the child seat has been correctly fastened in the car,” explains Katharina C. Hamma, Managing Director of Koelnmesse GmbH.
With prams, technical development is moving towards practical folding systems, as more and more families are now living in cities and interest in products that are as small as possible has increased as a result. Rainer Stäbler sees the hardware innovations in 2019 in the area of functionality and comfort: “The increasing demand for significantly smaller, more compact and lighter products demands innovative solutions”. According to Managing Director Michael Neumann, the digitization and networking of products will continue to develop very strongly in the future and make up a large part of future technical innovations.
Inspirations for the 2019 hardware collections
The hardware manufacturers get inspiration for the new collections from the automotive and bicycle industries, among others. But fashion fairs and the Fashion Weeks in Paris and Milan or high-tech fairs are also visited in order to get impulses for technical components. Feedback from consumers and the results of studies and surveys are also important for manufacturers.
“Consumers are the most important source of information and inspiration. The exchange with the people who use our products and services is very important to us and we see our products as innovations only if they offer consumers real added value. That’s why we attach great importance to studies and surveys. In addition, we have trend specialists who observe very closely what will gain importance in the future,” explains Michael Neumann.
Safety in child seats and prams
In principle, child seats and prams should comply with the current EU safety directives and the latest safety standards. In addition, hardware manufacturers advise parents to pay attention to how the products perform at renowned and independent test institutes.
“In order to be able to form your own opinion, it is important to look at and compare different tests, as each institute tests somewhat differently. The processing and the place of manufacture of the seat are also helpful indications, because different countries have different standards. In Europe, the highest manufacturing standards certainly apply. With well-known brand manufacturers, brand origin and experience flow into product quality and safety, on which parents can rely. An individual but nevertheless very important safety feature is product compatibility with children and cars,” advises Rainer Stäbler.
Quality and safety tests for hardware products
For most hardware manufacturers, independent testing is very important because it encourages them to optimize and develop their products to ensure safe child seats and carts at all times. In addition, the tests provide end consumers with transparency and an opportunity for comparison.
“Safety for children in particular is of course a very emotional issue for parents. When choosing the right child seat, parents therefore often rely on seals of approval such as those from Stiftung Warentest. Stiftung Warentest‘s results often have a major influence on the consumer’s choice and thus on the sales and market success of a product. Test institutes thus assume a great responsibility towards consumers and also towards us as manufacturers. We are in close contact with the testers at Stiftung Warentest and ADAC. If a product does not perform well, we immediately seek communication with the testers and check or question our product, but also the test conditions, the rating scales and the weighting of the individual test areas. Test institutes such as Stiftung Warentest are basically a welcome factor in the market, because they constantly challenge us as manufacturers to constantly test and improve our products,” says Michael Neumann of Dorel Juvenile.
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Image: Britax Römer