Not long ago, when domestic robots were first developed, the German group Fraudenberg Household Products (FHP) entered the new world of robots with a careful analysis of market trends in-hand.

The group, founded in Germany in 1849 and present in over 50 countries (with known brands such as Vileda, Wettex, Marigold, Gimi and Framar), is a world leader in home cleaning products. With an Italian market presence since 1950, the company has always prided itself for its attention to innovation. “The thought process with which we entered the world of robots can be described as quite democratic,” explains Fiorello Bianchi, general manager of FHP Italia. “Working mainly in large retailers, we created a dust-capturing robot – a structure with a dust-catching cloth that drives itself around the house. That said, it is not a smart robot. In designing the robot, we examined the domestic robot market, noticing that prices were between 300 and 500 euros. We used both an analysis of market trends and targeted price positioning to develop this particular product and introduce it to the market.” At the time, FHP had already introduced electronics in its product line. For example, the market giant created a wireless electric broom and entire line of associated products. “We work strategically as there are numerous markets complementary to that of electronics. Our dust-cleaning robot is an evolution of the traditional broom. We’ve also developed the Windomatic, a wireless spray cleaner designed for cleaning windows.”

The passage from electronics to real robots is swift. “We design robots to be sold within a specific price range – between 120 and 250 euros – and to date have only developed three robotic products. We want to tread carefully within this field and not overdo it, as we believe that being prudent may increase the value of that specific line of products in our brand.” This strategy, according to Bianchi, takes into account the following facts: an aging population that will increasingly have a need for automated tools and services, and the emergence of consumers who differ from previous generations in that they are attentive to cleanliness but value the convenience of not needing to personally take care of the house. “Working on these points, introducing technical products in the electric area was a rather spontaneous decision. We also have a brand that meets the challenge very well, according to some research, given its credibility.” How long before a robot capable of cleaning the entire house enters the market? “Everything goes back to price. A robot that knows how conduct a series of tasks implies a higher cost. It’s more realistic for the typical consumer to purchase a simple robot that performs one specific task. That said, we are investing in human resources focused on R&D and we do not exclude the creation of partnerships or joint ventures.” In addition to price, there is the issue of acceptance of these new technologies designed to work in our homes. Regarding cleaning involving washing, there is still much to accomplish for products to meet the current demands of consumers. Ultimately, this gap between expectations and product availability generates distrust towards a world that will continue to evolve.