Is pyrolytic destined to become a must-have specification?
Although pyrolytic ovens have been around the industry for decades, in terms of oven sales it’s often been a case of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’. It has taken some considerable time for pyrolytic functionality to catch on, which considering it wipes out one of the most hated household chores – cleaning the oven – seems rather odd. Head of category built-in at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, Richard Walker explains: “The first pyrolytic oven was launched in 1968, however manufacturers have for a long time clouded consumers’ perceptions of ‘easy cleaning’ ovens with less effective cleaning options or marketing gimmicks such as catalytic, oxylytic and hydrolytic.” Arguably, then, it has only been the industry to blame for lack of traction in sales!
Broadening the market
But now manufacturers are now more than ever making up for the tentative foray into pyrolytic ovens, with the functionality now a part of many appliance portfolios. In fact, pyrolytic is already entrenched in the mindset of the premium consumer. MD of Sub-Zero & Wolf, Craig Davies says: “Wolf only offers and have only ever offered pyrolytic ovens – with the exception of the convection steam oven, where it is not required – so it is seen as an essential feature and expected by our clients.” And Neil Pooley, kitchen category manager at Miele, agrees: “Pyrolytic has become a ‘standard’ feature in consumers’ minds.”
Now pyrolytic cleaning has filtered down the market from mid-market, even into more entry-level appliances spurring growth. Product manager of Built-in appliances at Electrolux UK & Ireland, Robbie Prestedge comments: “The category has become more accessible in recent years with mass brands entering the market at lower price points. Zanussi has proved the most popular Pyrolytic oven of the three brands [AEG, Electrolux, Zanussi] with 19.6% share of volume in 2014.” And Danny Lay of Caple adds: “Pyrolytic is still seen as a premium offer, however we have introduced a more cost-effective product intro our range recently and sales have risen sharply, so price does seem to be a factor.”
Certainly pyrolytic is gaining in sales as GfK reports sales of pyroltyic models are up from £23.1million in sales value in 2012 to £32.6million in 2014. And they are increasingly making their mark in terms of percentage sales of built-in, having a 6.7% share in 2012 and an 8% share in 2014.
More pyrolytic models
Lower price bands, making the technology more affordable, are just one part of the story, though. Models which also ease installation have aided greater market penetration of the pyro. Product development manager of Smeg, Joan Fraser adds: “We have found our pyrolytic oven is really taking hold with our customers, particularly as they can plug the ovens into a 13 amp supply, so they can use it in any kitchen without the need to upgrade the power supply.”
And although the majority of pyrolytic oven sales are in the built-in sector, there are an increasing number of freestanding models featuring the technology. This even includes range cookers. In fact, Smeg points to freestanding cookers as becoming the fastest-growing type of pyrolytic oven as its collection of models grows.
Cooking demands cleaning
With this increased accessibility to ovens with a pyrolytic function means consumers are more likely to hear about and understand the features and particularly the benefits of a self-cleaning oven. Head of Gourmet Academy UK & Ireland V-ZUG UK, James Smith adds: “There’s generally much greater access to information about different types of ovens and so people seem to be much more aware of and open to purchasing a model with enhanced features.”
Particularly with multi-function ovens now offering a variety of high temperature cooking features, a pyrolytic oven is fast-becoming a must-have. Trade marketing manager of Whirlpool UK, Neil Austin says: “The conventional settings, grilling, spit roasting and cooking a pizza using the bottom element area all used at higher temperature settings and therefore bake on any splatters etc. Consequently pyrolytic has come into its own…Moreover, with the kitchen increasingly integrated into living space, pyrolytic functions keep the oven looking pristine and a sleek addition to the living area.” And this need, combined with time-poor consumers, who want to spend the least possible time on chores, means pyrolytic should be a firm choice for customers. James Smith of V-ZUG UK adds: “Pyroltyic ovens continue to grow in popularity, as let’s face it; who likes cleaning? It’s such a great feature being able to simply burn away the oven residue by just pressing a button. Pyrolytic ovens eradicate a tiresome and time-consuming chore, freeing people up to do more interesting things.”
Upward sales trend
Certainly, the move towards more pyrolytic oven sales is supported by figures from appliance manufacturers, as trade marketing manager of Whirlpool UK, Neil Austin points out: “We have seen a significant increase in sales through the calender year, with over 75% of total sales in pyrolytic ovens coming in the final quarter.” And Robbie Prestedge of Electrolux UK & Ireland has also found a growth of pyrolytic ovens in his group’s sales, albeit still currently a small part of the total amount. “8% of our electric ovens sold have pyrolytic functionality, up 3% year on year, which accounted for 58,000 units [sold] in 2014. However, in terms of value this percentage increases to almost 13% during the same period to £32million growing 10%, versus 2013.”
Use online demos
And the upward trend can only continue to spiral, as the exposure of pyro grows through retail sales, and on the shop floor. And industry experts believe manufacturers, kitchen retailers and designers can all do more to drive consumer understanding, despite the technology being practically impossible to demo in store. However, Richard Walker of Glen Dimplex Home Appliances points out: “The developments in digital marketing have lent themselves to better communication of what pyro is and what it does.” A cursory search on YouTube brings up more than 1,000 videos which explain what pyro is and how it works. So perhaps a computer, tablet or smartphone will become the sales aid of accomplished kitchen professionals who want to increase sales of pyrolytic ovens?
More and more
One thing is for sure, that by building pyrolytic oven sales now will only continue to boost the market, for replacements later down the line. Richard Walker of GDHA points out: “Consumers who have owned a pyrolytic oven would be unlikely to revert back to manually cleaning their oven. This, in essence, means that there is an irreversible trend towards oven with pyrolytic cleaning.”
All of which signals potentially higher sales for kitchen retailers and designers now and going forwardsm as the pyrolytic oven rightfully demands a higher price tag than model without. Marketing director of Baumatic, Owain Harrison says: “According to a recent report by GfK (November 2014), one of the benefits of increased sales of built-in single ovens was that consumers were willing to trade up and invest in premium technology, and that pyrolytic versions had fuelled growth over the past few years, proving popular despite an average price point of £535.”
Pyrolytic as standard
With more models at a variety of price points, greater consumer understanding driven by cooking needs and cleaning convenience, oven with pyrolytic functions are destined to become a must-have. Neil Austin of Whirlpool states: “Consumers have certainly warmed to the idea of pyrolytic cleaning and, because of this, it will continue to proliferate into the wider marker and become more of an ‘essential’ in the modern oven.” And Neil Pooley of Miele agrees, adding: “I would expect pyrolytic sales to continue to take share away from the their non-pyrolytic counterparts over the coming years.”
So, don’t get left behind. Get on board with pyrolytic ovens now and help the specification become a standard sale, not only to achieve higher ticket sales, but also helping manufacturers further advance appliance technology and design.
The full article appears in the March 2015 issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News.