Streaming series

28 Jan, 15

What differentiates lower, through to mid and top-end taps? Philippa Turrell asks

During the recession, taps were one of a few bathroom products to benefit in sales. As large-scale projects diminished, consumers looked to more cost-effective ways to refresh their home, and the replacement bathroom tap and even accessory market flourished. However, as the economy has started to recover, will this see taps slip back down the consumers’ wish list, as attention once again turns to whole bathroom renovations? Industry experts suggest not, as the say consumers have learned the value to be had in changing the brassware to create a new look.

Diffentiate by metallics

There hasn’t been a seismic shift in the style of bathroom tap consumers want to buy, as last year we reported monobloc mixers remained key for those trading in the mid-market, while designers working on more high-end projects may opt for wall-mounted or freestanding, architectural pieces. And 12 months down the line this still rings true. But industry experts believe there has been a greater diffusion of top-end styles into the mid-market.

So to differentiate from the increasing blur of contemporary chrome, manufacturers have looked to re-introduce classical shapes and a mix of materials – think copper, gold, brushed finishes and even taps made from glass! Certainly a move away from chrome taps may help a design project stand out from the crowd, although it still remains a go-to finish for consumers and designers alike.

Sponsored Video

Substance back up styling

So if contemporary and chrome remain the cornerstones of tap design, and there seems no suggestion that they won’t, what is going to be the differentiator of future tap sales? Could it be more substance to back up the styling with enhanced safety features such as thermostatic values? Certainly if the tap is to mirror shower sales, thermostats can only grow in importance. And with the added impetus of the BMA lending its support to the Child’s Burn Trust, promoting thermostatic valves could be a genuine sales focus.

But the eco debate still rages on in the bathroom industry, as opinion is divided over consumer awareness of the need to reduce water usage and its influence in future sales. Perhaps what could combine all three elements of style, safety and eco – digital technology will come to the fore of the tap industry? Certainly that’s an expectation of many, as taps follow showering – it just remains to be see how long it will take.

The full article appeared in Kitchens & Bathrooms News December 2014 issue