I guess no one should be surprised when we see a TV Commercial that tells you the remarkable benefits of a product and “RIGHT NOW! YOU CAN GET TWO FOR THE SAME LOW LOW PRICE OF $19.99!” (The all-caps is me yelling in print.) This is marketing, right? We take ordinary features of a product, and then we present them in the best possible light. This idea is as old as the great markets and bizarres that go back thousands of years. So what is different now?
The difference is that the merchant in the market understood that if you were not happy with the product of service provided, word would get around and he would not sell another product in the market again. There is accountability in having a LOCAL presence. Additionally, when your employees and ownership live in the same communities, shop in the same stores, and go to the same Friday night football games, we need to be sure that we are providing the highest quality products and services. I live in the same community that my family currently lives in and has lived in since before the 1880’s. Roots matter!
Sunsetter Motorized Retractable Awnings- Taking the ordinary and making it sound high quality
While doing the research for this blog, I was blown away and how difficult it was to find technical and warranty information on the product. By a quick check, about 80% of the space of the Sunsetter Motorized Awning Brochure is dedicated to special prices and give-aways that come with the awning. Weeding through, I have found a few features of the frame:
Air-Craft Quality Aluminum- WOW! That sounds awesome! If it can be put on an aircraft, why won’t it be better on an awning? The truth is, what part of the awning is aircraft quality aluminum? What does aircraft quality aluminum even mean? What specification on an “aircraft” does it meet? Maybe it meets the standard for the beverage cart or maybe it meets the standard for wing construction?
Baked on Enamel Finish- WOW! That sounds pretty cool too, but here is where I am confused. Why not state that the finish meets auto standards? There are well established standards for powder coated finishes. Also note that it states that the frame is ONLY available in a “cream” finish. I guess that’s the “marketing” way of saying you don’t get to choose your frame color. As an aside, “cream” is the least popular frame color in the Chicago market.
Double Cable System for Strength- WOW! If one cable is good, then two cables must be twice as good! This statement is completely mis-leading on several different levels. First of all, it says “for strength.” The cable has NOTHING to do with the strength of the awning. The cable only attaches the springs inside the arm to the arm. It does not even address the tension of the arm(which is important because it determines how tight your fabric will be). The size and number of springs inside the arms effect tension.
Second, the “strength” of the arm depends on how the components of the arm are manufactured. The longer pieces on all arms are extruded. Think play dough. You squeeze it through a mold. The connecting pieces are either “die cast” or “forged.” Think horse shoes-forged versus muffins- die cast. Sunsetter is completely silent on this topic. Lastly, what is completely skipped over is what material the cable is made of. In fact, it is made of galvanized cable that cost pennies per foot and it is covered in a soft plastic. By the way, expect that soft plastic to come off in a few years. Also expect it to NOT be covered under warranty. My guess is that “Double Cable System for Strength” is going to market test better.
Finally, I will set aside the skepticism and sarcasm for a second. We are not stating that Sunsetter is either a high quality or low quality retractable awning for your deck or patio. The point of this blog is to make you- the consumer- go a little deeper in your analysis before purchasing a product that should last on your home for 10-20 years.
Blog was written by Rodney Allott, President of Thatcher Retractables and Vice President of the Mid-West Fabric Products Association. Thatcher Retractables is located at 7930 S. Madison Street Burr Ridge, IL (western suburbs surrounding the City of Chicago.) Come see our factory showroom or visit us on the web at www.rolloutavacation.com or call us (630) 5-AWNING