Sorting fact from fiction in a marketeer’s world

It was that great philosopher Arsene Wenger who once said, “Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home”.

He was responding to a jibe from a rival manager that his team were undeserving of their league and cup winning status, pointing out that it is hard to be objective when your allegiances lie elsewhere.

The catering equipment market seems to face its own similar sort of issue when it comes to the not-so-insignificant topic of equipment that saves on utility costs: Every manufacturer thinks they have the most energy efficient product.

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There is no denying that a desire to reduce power consumption, improve the environment and create a more sustainable approach full-stop continues to define the nature of commercial kitchen projects more drastically than ever before.

But the challenge that buyers and sellers face in distinguishing one product’s energy efficiency credentials from another remains a rather painful and muddied one.

Never a group to miss an opportunity, energy efficiency is one of those delightful industry issues that the marketeers seized upon from day one. Subsequently, the market place is awash with bold statements and brash assertions about the power-saving wonders of every kind of product you can possibly imagine.

There is nothing wrong with a company wanting to highlight everything that is good about its products, but in the rush to board the bandwagon many overlook the fact that being too brazen, too often, and without a certain level of substance, can have the effect of desensitising those for whom the message is intended.

How many times have you read of a new innovation being such-and-such more energy efficient than the previous model? What model isn’t though? It would be a pretty foolish — yet admirably honest — manufacturer which came out and said its latest product was a whole lot less efficient than its predecessor.

I recently spoke to a large catering equipment dealer who complained how difficult it is to get substantial technical data from manufacturers on the energy efficiency of their products in various working environments. To overcome this, it is investing more of its cash in remote-monitoring customers’ sites in order to attain its own analysis.

In a market where methods and styles of testing vary wildly from one brand to the next, customers have always had to take manufacturers’ claims at face value.

But the call for more evidence, clearer benchmarking and universal standards is growing louder by the day.

I truly expect the industry to see some massive developments in this regard over the next decade, but in the meantime the quest to separate fact from fiction is as pertinent as ever.

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