The pandemic focused attention on the convenience, health and hygiene of hot water taps, but protecting the planet will be the long-term driver of sales
Already a firm favourite with discerning clientele for their premium projects, a broader church of consumers captive at home during lockdowns and spurred into home improvements had the time to discover hot water taps.
Perhaps introduced to the concept by TV or social media advertising, consumers were educated on the benefits of instant hot water, providing hot drinks on tap and enhanced kitchen hygiene.
That sales drive seems to have continued even after the lockdowns, as product manager at Blanco UK Ian Sanders states: “With certain channels, Blanco is finding that drink.hot products are installed inbetween 75%-80% of new kitchen installations, which is a dramatic increase when compared to pre-COVID times.”
And sales and marketing director for Franke UK Jo Sargeant agrees instant hot water taps is still one of the highest growth categories, so there is a lot of market for kitchen retailers to attack.
With the growth of the instant hot water tap sector, there has been a raft of suppliers entering the market, broadening the market by offering a wider variety of price points.
Managing director of Qettle Greg Rowe Jnr comments: “Boiling water taps used to be the preserve of higher-to-luxury end kitchens but thanks to clever design and new technology, that’s no longer the case.
“It’s now entirely possible for mid-market kitchens to include a 4-in-1 boiling water tap for under £500 – and that’s a product that dispenses ‘truly’ boiling water at 100°C not a ‘near boiling’, ‘kettle hot’ or ‘steaming hot water’ tap.
“As such, there has been a significant increase in the number of new kitchen sales that are specifying a boiling water tap as a matter of course.”
Kitchen retailers could be forgiven with an influx of lower priced models, the market will be driven down .
Managing director of Hotspot Titanium Nick Taylor explains: “There’s no shortage of cheap options but at Hotspot Titanium we’re finding that those consumers who do research are prepared to pay more for brands with good reviews and good aftercare.”
Jo Sargeant of Franke agrees, adding: “While there’s been a surge of new brands entering the market with lower-priced products, retailers are savvy enough to recognise that the price tag may not always reflect the quality, performance, security of supply and aftercare afforded by more established brands.”
Manufacturers have also worked hard to introduce added value at the higher end of the market, whether through electronic operation, addition of filtered cold or sparkling water, and even built-in measuring devices for precise operation.
But don’t forget the simple specification of hot water delivery.
Greg Rowe Jr explains: “In the mid-market, we’re seeing a lot of second and third time around buyers who’ve been early to adopt the convenience of boiling water on tap, but who have been disappointed in performance from taps that are ‘instant hot’, as opposed to boiling.
“It’s really worth looking into whether the tap delivers genuinely boiling water. Day in, day out, we speak to consumers who are disappointed their luxury coffee granules won’t dissolve.
“In this product category 5°C to 10°C can make a huge difference!”
Yet it’s not simply the convenience and safe delivery of instant hot water that promotes sales but a move towards benefitting the environment too.
Marketing communications and customer service manager for Europe and Russia Anne Kaarlela comments: “According to the Energy Saving Trust, 40% of households boil the kettle at least four times a day, with 75% admitting to boiling more water than they need, accounting for a significant amount of water and energy wasted each year.”
And leader category UK for Lixil EMENA and Grohe UK Elina Enqvist-Twomey says a drive towards more environmentally sustainable living is moving up the agenda: “In recent years, we have seen many homeowners look to invest in hot water taps for a number of contributing factors such as sustainability, resource efficiency, convenience as well as a space-saving solution.
“Societal awareness around consumption and our impact on the environment has led to many homeowners seeking to invest in fittings that support a more sustainable lifestyle.”
In fact, industry experts believe long-term sales will be driven by the demand for more sustainable kitchen products.
Managing director of Quooker Stephen Johnson concludes: “More than health and hygiene, consumers are increasingly looking for products that have great benefits and do not harm the environment.
“Environmental factors are increasingly playing larger roles in purchasing decisions. Quooker’s green credentials and how it encourages more sustainable consumption are already, and will continue, to be a long-term factor that will support sales.”