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that makes us stand out from our competition.” In order to encourage retailers to partner with the stairlift provider and stay a step ahead of competition, the company launched its Accredited Partner Programme in Spring 2017, offering partners valuable marketing support, as well as tempting rewards for loyalty. “We’ve been very pleased with the response to our Accredited Partner programme,” said David. “Our intention was always to improve communications between Companion and our network of mobility retailers, and to give them additional marketing materials to help promote our stairlift and accessible bathing services. “We’ve had excellent feedback and we’ll be launching the next phase of the programme in 2018.” STAIRLIFT VS HOME LIFT MARKET The emerging home lift market has seen considerable growth over recent years, with established stairlift brands such as Stannah and platform lifts companies such as Gartec releasing their own home lift brands, as well as companies specialising in the technology such as Lifton and Stiltz. Interestingly, when asked if this developing market was threatening the larger and more established stairlift market, suppliers on either side shared very different opinions. Companion’s David Harrison believes stairlifts are not competing with home lifts, with the price points of both products being the biggest differentiation. He explained: “We don’t believe customers see home lifts as an alternative solution. It’s a different proposition for many due to the high cost and disruption to their homes compared with installing a stairlift.” Research carried out by Rica for Age UK in 2016 found the average price for a stairlift to be supplied and installed was in the region of £5500 – although this can vary widely depending on the stairlift purchased, the environment and the company – whereas the cost of a home lift is often more than double the cost.

David added: “Stairlifts continue to be a cost-effective and affordable solution to the challenge of climbing stairs for many people as they get older.” New technology, such as Handicare’s photographic survey systems (PhotoSurvey), also continues to improve the installation process of the devices, further reducing time and costs whilst improving accuracy. Despite their more expensive price tag and potential installation disruption however, home lift suppliers insist that more consumers are turning towards home lifts as a viable substitute to stairlifts. John McSweeney from Terry Lifts commented: “To a degree, consumers are moving away from stairlifts to home lifts. Increased awareness of the home lift as a safer, more flexible

new homeowner often has to pay to get it removed as it has negative connotations surrounding mobility and disability” highlighted John McSweeney. Gino supported the claim, adding: “Customers who have bought a Stiltz home lift and had to move for whatever reason, such as deciding to emigrate for example, have told us that the value of their property has increased due to them having a domestic lift.” APPEALING TO A YOUNGER AUDIENCE Whilst the two products may not be competing across the wider demographic of disabled and older customers yet, there is the risk that as home lifts become more affordable, they may pip stairlifts to the post

“The industry cannot afford to play fast and loose with consumers lives.” JOHN MCSWEENEY

alternative to the traditional stairlift is a key factor.” Stiltz’ Gino Farruggio supported this idea, highlighting that the company’s home lifts can be installed almost anywhere in the home rather than limited to a staircase, can provide more independence for wheelchair and walking frame users, and importantly, shakes off the stigmas associated with stairlifts. “We are seeing more and more consumers choosing a home lift rather than a stairlift because they recognise the huge benefits,” argued Gino. “A Stiltz home lift is a much more dignified solution for the user as, in some homes, the first thing visitors might see when they walk in is the stairlift.” The home lift suppliers also emphasise that installing a domestic, through-the-floor lift into a property raises its value. “A fully enclosed home lift will add value to a property as it becomes desirable to a wider demographic. A stairlift does not achieve this and the

when engaging with customers. According to both Stiltz and Terry Lifts, home lifts appeal to a younger demographic who are looking to the ‘future proof’ their homes, in comparison to stairlifts which are typically purchased when mobility becomes an issue.

Gino Farruggio, Trade Sales Director at Stiltz Lifts, suggests more people are coming around to the idea of ‘future proofing’ their homes

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THIIS December 2017  

In the December issue of THIIS, we catch up with retailer Aid and Enable to find out how one article changed the future of the business. Thi...

THIIS December 2017  

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