Brand• Brand Authority• Contractor• Electricians• HVAC• HVAC Branding• HVAC Business• HVAC Distributer• HVAC Marketing• HVAC Wholesale• Marketing• Plumbing• Protected consumer• Quality• Quality Consult• Skilled Trade• Strategic Marketing• Wholesale

The Protected Consumer | A Marketing Perspective

The HVAC protected consumer
Marketing is an ethically-focused practice that helps build the brand and reputation of a company. When consumers are in the market for a particular HVAC brand, for example, they must depend on past experiences and/or extensive research to decide what type of unit to buy. In order to do so, they have to locate an authorized dealer of that equipment and contact the contractor who installs that particular brand. All combined efforts during the install process include the manufacturer, wholesaler, contractor, and the protected consumer.

The consumer purchase decision is backed by a protected consumer approach. This makes it clear that the type of purchase can be harmful to the consumer and certain rules and regulations must come into play. When standards are set and defined, certain parties are then held accountable in an event of a liability case. Trane, like many other HVAC equipment companies, sells their equipment to authorized wholesalers who are lawfully only permitted to resell them to licensed, and sometimes dealer-exclusive contractors. As an HVAC contractor business owner, there have been multiple marketing and consumer observations made relating to ethical practices in the industry.

Product selection and the typical consumer

Selecting the brands that are the most trusted is solely based on the quality of the promise that the company makes and keeps. When a consumer thinks of air conditioning quality, often the brand Trane comes to mind. Trane, owned by Ingersoll Rand, is an industry-leading provider of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. The typical consumer is homeowners in the United States but offers the equipment in various areas throughout the world.

hvac equipment marketing hierarchy
HVAC Equipment Marketing Tree – Trane, marketing, distributor, contractor and consumer
In 2018, Trane was named America’s Most Trusted HVAC by Lifestory research (Trane, 2019). This was measured with a study of over 8,000 opinions over the course of a year. Outside of residential applications, Trane is also heavily involved in the commercial aspect of HVAC. The company offers commercial water chillers, unitary units, ductless solutions, and rooftops units. When it comes to consumerism, Trane is a leader in the HVAC industry in both residential and commercial spaces. They appeal to homeowners who are HVAC technology savvy and contractors that are Trane Comfort Specialists (Trane, 2019).

Consumer purchase decision

The consumers for Trane products fit into two categories. The capable consumer and the protected consumer. When homeowners build new homes or purchase existing homes, the need and importance of a well-functioning HVAC system is a vital component to comfort and peace of mind. Everybody wants to remain warm in the winter and cool in the hot summer months. Without it, families would be sacrificing the feeling of comfort. In extreme climates, living without air conditioning can be life-threatening. The importance of not only quality contractors, but quality HVAC equipment is vital.

The protected and capable HVAC consumer

The protected consumer

There are many ways that the equipment is regulated when installed by a licensed and bonded contractor. For example, according to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Standard 5, section 3.3.1 “Requirements”, the selected equipment will satisfy the building’s specific load requirements. The document also aims to protect homeowners by providing contractor guidelines that include adding the proper refrigerant charge and electrical requirements. The protected consumer is backed by these standards and more that select qualified contractors who must adhere to. HVAC systems, electrical in nature, hold the potential to cause fires and threaten the lives of the building occupants. The manufacturers hold liability as well in addition to the contractor. The protected consumer can make liability claims with all involved. The HVAC+R distributor can even hold the responsibility if equipment and electrical components are sold to those without a license.  

The capable consumer

They are able to make their market choices through extensive research of HVAC brands and equipment. The decision is based on informed and rational choices prior to making a buying decision (Brusseau, 2012). There is a vast amount of relevant content online that reviews various brands. Online reviews are widely available and the credibility of Trane and other equipment manufacturers are available as well.

The capable consumer is able to do a substantial amount of research before deciding what brand of equipment to have installed. The primary source of this influence is the licensed contractor. Since HVAC equipment requires skills and knowledge to properly install and maintain, the consumer gravitates towards the opinion and expertise of the contractor. While some homeowners may not care about the brand of equipment, it is the contractor’s responsibility to inform the homeowner of their various choices. Simply installing the cheapest type of equipment will lead to more problems down the road.

Ethical principles

When considering Trane’s slogan, “it’s hard to stop a train”, it can be interpreted in various ways. If a consumer has experienced a faulty unit nearly catching their house on fire, that slogan could ignite rage and negative light on the Trane brand. It may be in fact easy to stop a Trane, and that’s why it never worked correctly after contractor ABC Heating & Air Conditioning installed it. Was this something that the contractor did wrong when not compliant with the ACCA standards? Either way, the image of the Trane brand is at risk with that consumer. The more this happens, the more the equipment starts to build a negative reputation. If an installation of a new system goes horribly wrong, their slogan can be considered an unfair practice, causing substantial injury to consumers. The relationship between licensed contractors and equipment manufacturers is a highly important one that avoids these situations. When unlicensed individuals install units, the risk and liability increase. Trane and other HVAC brands trust the wholesale industry to distribute their products to licensed contractors. 

all parties meet in the middle during the HVAC equipment installation process
The manufacturer, contractor, distributor and consumer meet in the middle

The consumer

The consumer is the most vulnerable entity during the entire installation process. The ethics and quality that are involved are the responsibility of the manufacturer and contractor, who will assume all associated liabilities.


The HVAC wholesale distributor plays a critical role during the installation process. Contractors who are licensed shall only purchase equipment and electrical components. If the distributor fails to comply, the risk associated falls on them.


The licensed contractor is known as the hero throughout the process. They are the direct representation of the equipment brand and their own brand. They operate as the true professional and take on all responsibility of informing the consumer and operating from an ethical and quality position.


The manufacturer is responsible for setting the quality of their equipment standards high. The more they produce a quality product, the more contractors will get and stay behind their name. Brand authority in the HVAC market is a critical component to installation success.

Quality standards

The buyer beware concept doesn’t apply when purchasing new HVAC equipment from a licensed contractor. The risk and liability are higher than other products and are more sensitive in nature. The slogan was not insinuating that it is impossible to stop a Trane but saying it is hard to stop one can be a little deceptive to the consumer. If the consumer is naïve to proceed with that logic, they can quickly become loyal customers to upset and angry. False advertising can be at question, and ethical issues such as safe products are associated with HVAC equipment brands.

Trane’s marketing team focuses on ensuring they are dedicated to the consumer’s comfort by offering quality products. Trane concentrates on building brand authority and informational advertising and tend to avoid the choppy waters where unethical marketing practices such as viral advertising dwell (Brusseau, 2012). Ensuring occupant comfort through quality installations of energy-efficient equipment is the primary focus (ACCA, 2020). The ACCA quality standards for designing, installing, maintaining, repairing, and verifying indoor environment standards can be found here.

Privacy policies

Trane traditionally runs advertisements on YouTube and focuses on reaching out to contractors. TV commercials are rare and social media is a focal point of their strategy. When marketing their product, Trane will need to continue to be aware of the threat of a data breach. While holding a large amount of contractors’ billing information, their systems are constantly at risk for a potential breach. They also withhold a substantial amount of homeowner’s information including names, email addresses, and physical addresses through warranty registrations. A data breach will prove costly to Trane and other equipment manufacturers. Aside from various compliance fees and court fees, they would have to pay what it costs to reacquire their customer base after losing trust and strong relationships (cloudmask, 2017).


Trane is a leading HVAC manufacturer that offers a quality line of products for the HVAC industry. Their products are carried by licensed and reputable contracting professionals who practice their own set of ethical standards when installing this equipment. Commercial building owners and American homeowners depend on the professionalism of both the contractor and Trane as the manufacturer. They are the protected consumer, who are vulnerable to the equipment’s performance. When the right contractor installs Trane equipment while adhering to the ACCA standards, ethics are considered and applied effectively.


ACCA (2020). Quality Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Brusseau, J. (2012). The Business Ethics Workshop. Washington, DC: Saylor Foundation

HVAC Quality Installation Specification . (n.d.). Retrieved from

The cost of data security: Are cybersecurity investments worth it? (n.d.). Retrieved from

Trane Retains Title of “America’s Most Trusted HVAC Brand” For the Fourth Consecutive Year. (n.d.). Retrieved from

roberts consulting marketing leadership business
Ronnie Lee Roberts II is a brand and marketing super fan and owner & operator of Roberts Consulting Firm. He writes about marketing, leadership, and business.

Questions or Comments? Drop Them Here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.